Colorful Summer Cooking

So what do you do when it’s too hot or you’re too lazy to cook? You make a one-pot meal that takes the least amount of effort, that’s what. This is based on a Martha Stewart recipe, if you want to try it. The cool thing about this is that the pasta starch thickens the water as it evaporates, making a creamy sauce that coats every strand.

The prep is perfect for the Zojirushi Electric Skillet as a one pot meal; everything goes in at once including the raw pasta, stir occasionally, done in like 20 minutes.

Add some red peppers for a little kick, parmesan for some topping. The ingredients do the rest for a pretty dang good veggie pasta. Sheesh man, you can’t get more idiot proof than this.

One thing about hot weather is that it dampens your appetite. I remember living in Tokyo during their ridiculously sweltering summers, and all my co-workers wanted to eat for lunch was zaru soba (cold dipping noodles). Oddly, I found out another good thing to eat was curry rice—the idea being that spicy food would actually make you sweat from your head but ultimately cool your body down. Seriously, look it up; I’m not lyin’.

Summer Curry with Corn Rice
Curry is pretty easy to make with store bought curry roux; and with summer vegetables available you can make a colorful version that looks so appetizing to eat.

Color is important when it comes to food, especially when you may not have much of an appetite. You’ve seen all the color studies done—there’s a reason fast food chains use so much red or yellow in their signage or for their corporate colors. it’s there to stimulate your hunger. Green is another color that is appealing in food, for the obvious reason that it’s synonymous with nature. It relaxes and calms, which is why hospitals use green in their interior design.

Here’s a way to add a twist to your rice. Make it into corn rice just by steaming it all together with your rice cooker.

Nice Curry Corn Rice dish, right? No meat so it isn’t that heavy, but still very much curry, if you know what I mean.

Do you know why they call these super hot days the Dog Days of Summer? It has to do with how the ancient astronomers identified Sirius, the brightest star in the sky informally known as the “Dog Star”. During this stretch of summer days, Sirius rises and sets with the sun and is at its brightest in the sky. The Romans believed the Dog Star was giving off heat, adding to the sun’s warmth during this long period of hot and humid weather.

Zucchini Bread
We harvested some zucchinis from our planter box in our backyard and got a really big one. To celebrate the Dog Days and our dog Henry, we made zucchini bread with the Zojirushi Toaster Oven. Henry is a senior who’s been with us for 14 years now. He’s almost blind, has kidney problems and wobbles a lot, but he still seems to enjoy roaming the house, exploring the floor for a scrap of food that we might have dropped. (He doesn’t seem to very much like his presciption diet.)

The zucchini bread was moist and delicious, and looks good with the bits of zucchini on top.

Summer Fruit Pies
Summer fruits look so good, we always tend to buy too much and can’t eat them all before they go bad. One easy thing you can do is make little fruit pies with all the extra fruit. You can get pre-made, pre-cut pie crust from the market especially made for mini pies, so all you need is a muffin pan.

Sprinkle a bit of sugar and lemon zest for added flavor. You don’t need much because most of the fruit is already sweet and starting to get overripe from being leftover, remember? They all get done at the same time, so popping a single muffin pan into your Toaster Oven makes just enough and makes great use of all that fruit.

Eat it before the Häagen-Dazs® melts!

Summer is almost over, so enjoy the rest of it…personally if I had to choose between the extremes of summer and winter, I’d rather be too hot than too cold. And get off the brown grilled meat train for a day and cook with color!
Products used in this post: IH Rice Cooker & Warmer NP-HCC10/18, Gourmet d’Expert® Electric Skillet EP-RAC50, Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30

One-Pan Pasta: Martha Stewart’s One-Pan Pasta

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2023

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About Bert Tanimoto

Oldish father (still) of two youngish (but now young adult) kids. Zojirushi enthusiast and professional writer. California resident with roots in Hawaii and Japan. Classic rock, popcorn movies, audio books, spam, sushi and cone filtered coffee. Guilty pleasures include donuts and pop bands like ABBA and Wham! Don't laugh, you should see my vinyl collection--I give hair bands and prog equal credit.

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