Brigham Young University

Provo, UtahDear Santa,

It's that time of year - I've been a good student all semester. Could you please bring me a wok for Christmas? I'd like one with a plug, that way I have a chance at hiding it from the R.A.s here at Deseret Towers.

FYI: I'll be home in Raleigh for the holidays.

Love,

Greg Allen

When Santa Claus forwarded a copy of my BYU freshman's Christmas request, I thought it was a mistake. What about the proper label jeans, L.L. Bean boots to hike through campus puddles, a stack of stereo tapes or the inevitable request for cold, hard cash?

But a wok for a college kid?

Santa delivered; the wok returned to Provo.

Much later I learned of the trendy methods college students employed to clean out their refrigerators, even the mini-storage units in board and room dorms.

`We'd pool our leftovers in the wok, add a little ginger and soy sauce, and have a great meal," Greg explained. "It was definitely a change of pace from the Morris Center cafeteria."

Four years later, the holiday wok changed hands. Greg passed it on to an engaged roommate as a memorial wedding gift - a remem brance of a multitude of stir-fry socials shared.

The college students discovered what the Chinese knew for centuries - cooking in one pot conserved both time and energy. With a minimum of chopping, a touch of oil and five minutes' cooking time, wok wonders surface.

Martin Yan, author of "Everybody's Wokking," described the wok as the "perfect symbol of timeless but modern cuisine. The simple, versatile cooking utensil, which has hardly changed in design in more than a thousand years, is a marvel of efficiency."

Yet Connie Chung, CBS anchor, ballyhooed the durable cooking utensil of her ethnic heritage. "Forget the wok," she says, "I wouldn't use anything but an electric skillet."

On one issue, I agree with Chung.

An electric fry pan eases through sauces or saute, simmer or stir-fry. A slab of French toast cooks as easily as a creme brulee - well, almost as easily.

The versatile appliance facilitates midweek menus. Combining all the ingredients in one pot streamlines meal preparation and makes cleanup a breeze. Decorative exteriors often allow the skillet to function as a serving piece, eliminating further dishwashing.

If the skillet doesn't cover the one-pot meal planning needs within your walls, maybe the updated pressure cooker is the answer.

"Pressure cookers have returned to the well-equipped kitchen," says Mardee Haiden Regan in Food and Wine magazine. "Not as collectibles from decades gone by, but as nutritionally sound, fast and efficient means of preparing food. The pressure cooker is a convenient adjunct to a busy life style."

With the pressure process, entrees can be prepared in a single pot.

"Flavorful chicken soup can be ready in 35 minutes," suggests Lorna Sass, author of the recent publication, "Cooking Under Pressure." Split-pea or lentil soup takes 15 minutes while a complete New England boiled dinner will cook in 45. The pressure cooker can transform a less expensive cut of meat into an elegant beef bourguignon in 15 minutes. Lamb shanks cooked in a pressure cooker reach that delectable state of falling-off-the-bone tenderness in 30 minutes. There is no handier way to cook dried beans or chili; 30 minutes to serving time."

And only one pot to wash.

The ultimate one-pot convenience is the slow cooker or crockery cooker.

From its market introduction in 1971, the slow cooker captured a share of family meal preparation responsibility. Second generation cookers feature lift-out immersible liners and squattier shapes to accommodate larger pieces of meat.

Rival, maker of the "Crock-Pot," even makes a bread baking pan for crockery use.

A variety of sizes is available, according to Bert Phillips, home economist for Rival. "Some people want to own more than one size. They like the large size for family meals and a small size for individual servings."

Phillips suggests guidelines for expanding the use of the slow cookery:

- When converting a conventional recipe to the slow cooker, do not add as much liquid; liquids do not boil away during the cooking process.

- Browning is usually unnecessary.

- Seasonings intensify in the slow cooker. Add leaf or whole herbs during the last hour of cooking.

- Milk and cream break down during lengthy cooking; add during the last hour.

- Cooking periods increase 3-5 times if crockery high temperature is used, but 8-16 times on low. For example, if a regular recipe takes 15-30 minutes to cook, it will need 11/2-21/2 hours on high or 4-8 hours on low.

Readers interested in new directions with the slow cooker may request a pair of free recipes leaflets from Rival, "Dining Light," and "Guide to Adapting Recipes to the Crock-Pot." To order, send a stamped, self-addressed legal size envelope to Rival Manufacturing, P.O. Box 419556, Kansas City, MO 64141-6556.

Whether a crockery cooker, a pressure cooker, an electric skillet or wok, a single pot simplifies family meal preparation and cleanup.

*****

Recipes

Cantonese Turkey (Please see microfilm for recipe)

Tuna Cashew Casserole

Submitted by Mrs. James Marshall, Lyman, WY Approximate cost: $3.44 Preparation time: 15 minutes plus baking Yield: 6 servings Evaluation: A typical family casserole with a good variety of flavors and textures. Noodles were a bit soggy, but celery, nuts and topping provided some crunch. Quick and easy to prepare.

Tuna Cashew Casserole1 can (6 oz.) chow mein noodles

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup cashews

1 cup celery, finely diced

1 can (61/4 oz.) tuna, drained

1/4 cup minced onion

Dash pepper and salt Combine half of noodles with soup, water, tuna, nuts, celery, onions, salt and pepper. Place mixture in 11/2-quart casserole; sprinkle top with remaining noodles. Bake at 325 degrees for 40 minutes.

Beef Skillet Fiesta

Submitted By Susan Pohlman, Salt Lake City Approximate cost: $4.43 Preparation time: 15 minutes Yield: 6 servings Evaluation: Quick and easy one-dish meal. Could be served with tortillas and intensified by the addition of green chili peppers.

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup onion, diced

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 can (1 lb.) tomatoes

1 can (12 oz.) whole kernel corn

11/4 cups beef bouillon

1/2 cup green pepper, sliced

11/2 cups minute rice Brown meat, leaving in coarse chunks. Add onions and cook until tender, but not browned; drain. Add seasonings, tomatoes, corn and bouillon; bring to a boil. Stir in green pepper; bring to boil again. Stir in rice, remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve.

Poached Chicken Normandy

Submitted by An Bradshaw, Bountiful Approximate cost: $5.97 Preparation time: 10 minutes plus cooking Yield: 4-6 servings Evaluation: Tender, flavorful main dish with easy preparation. Tang of lemon in sauce complements chicken. Stock can be served as a first-course soup.

Poached Chicken Normandy1 whole chicken, cut up

2 carrots, peeled and cut in thirds

2 small turnips or potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 medium onions, quartered

2 cups apple juice or apple cider

3 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

2 apples, peeled and quartered

1 teaspoon lemon peel, finely grated

2 zucchini, cut in 1-inch pieces Put chicken, carrots, potatoes, onions, juice, water and salt in a large pan. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes. Add zucchini and apple; cook 5 minutes more. Remove apples and 2 cups cooking liquid and put in a blender. Add lemon peel and blend until smooth. Pour mixture into a small saucepan and boil 5-7 minutes, until thickened. Arrange chicken on a platter, surround with vegetables with sauce on the side.

Napoli Casserole

Submitted by Thelma O. Thelin, Salt Lake City Approximate cost: $3.93 Preparation time: 45 minutes plus cooking Evaluation: Colorful appearance with vegetable, cheese combination. Tomatoes and zucchini give the recipe depth; could be used for a variety of occasions. Tester voiced concern about the high fat content.

2 tablespoons margarine

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated

1/2 pound mild Italian sausage

1 medium zucchini, sliced

1/4 cup onion, chopped

2 cups noodles, cooked and drained

1/2 cup tomato, chopped Make a white sauce with margarine, flour, milk and salt. Add 1/2 cup of the cheese; stir until melted. Remove sausage from casing; cut into pieces and brown. Add zucchini and onion. Cook until tender; drain. Stir in sauce, noodles and tomato. Pour into 1-quart casserole; top with remaining cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Tomato Soup Casserole

Submitted by Pamela Stoddard, West Valley City Approximate cost: $4.67 Preparation time: 50 minutes including cooking time Yield: 6-8 servings Evaluation: Excellent flavor with creamy sweet-and-sour type sauce. Cornflake topping complements colorful mixture.

11/4 pounds hamburger

2/3 cup onion, finely chopped

11/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 package (3 oz.) cream cheese

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons shortening

1/4 cup margarine, melted

2 cans tomato soup

1/4 teaspoon pepper

6 ounces noodles

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup cornflakes, crushed Saute onion in shortening; add meat and brown. Add soup, seasoning, brown sugar and cream cheese; simmer 15 minutes. Cook noodles in salted water; drain and add to meat mixture. Top with mixture of crushed cornflakes and melted margarine. Cover skillet and simmer for 20 minutes.