Recently, a friend reminded me that cooking with a slow cooker in the summer keeps her kitchen cool — no hot oven or stove.

That is an excellent point, my friends. Our air conditioners are all working overtime. Let’s give those thermostats, bills and ourselves an occasional break with some slow-cooked recipes.

Of course, a nice chuck roast cooked low and slow is a safe bet for a good slow-cooker meal. Even though you cook this one on “high,” the low heat of a slow cooker has the same effect as an oven, but is more indirect. The result is tender morsels of beef in a rich sauce. I bought this roast and mushrooms at my local farmers market.

A warm blueberry crisp with ice cold ice cream is a delicious way to end a summer day. Blueberries are popping up at farmers markets and produce stands already. I do love the blueberry buffer season between strawberry and peach seasons.

Cooking without heating up the house is going to be my goal for the summer. I hope you enjoy these recipe ideas. Feel free to send me some of your own slow-cooked dishes using local ingredients. I’d love to try them!

Slow Cooker Roast with Carrots & Mushrooms

Makes 8 servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

3 slices bacon

4-5 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cubed

1 cup red wine

2 cups beef broth

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 tablespoon Worcestershire

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 pound small or chopped carrots

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced

1½ teaspoons fresh thyme

1½ teaspoons rosemary, minced

1. In a deep skillet, cook bacon over medium-high heat until crisp. Crumble bacon and add to slow cooker.

2. Add beef to the skillet and brown on all sides over medium-high heat. Season with salt and pepper while cooking. Transfer beef to the slow cooker as the pieces are browned.

3. Deglaze skillet with the red wine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and slowly add broth, tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer together 5 minutes, then pour over beef in the slow cooker.

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4. Add mushrooms to the slow cooker. Stir well and cook on high about 6 hours or until beef is tender.

5. Add carrots, thyme and rosemary about 2 hours before roast is done. 

6. Serve hot. Reserve the juices to make a gravy and serve with mashed potatoes, if desired.

Slow Cooker Blueberry Crisp

Makes 8 servings. Recipe is by Teresa B. Day.

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 pints (about 5 cups) fresh blueberries

½ cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Topping:

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup quick-cooking oats

½ cup sugar

½ cup brown sugar

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 pinch salt

1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes

1. Put berries in the slow cooker with the lemon juice and toss to coat.

2. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg. Pour over the blueberries and toss to coat.

3. For topping: With a pastry blender or two forks, mix flour, oats, sugars, nutmeg, salt and butter together in a bowl until coarse crumbs form.

4. Sprinkle crumb topping over berries. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. For the last hour, cover the slow cooker with a paper towel to capture the moisture and set the cover slightly askew to allow the steam to escape so the topping will crisp.

5. Serve warm alone or with ice cream.


Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. Contact her at ieatbrla@gmail.com.