Cooking in the Slow Lane

By Patsy Jamieson, January/February 2008

Warm up with these easy one-pot meals for your slow cooker.

Some years ago, I had the distinct pleasure of visiting the idyllic Turkish village of Sirince, in the orchard-lined hills above the ancient city of Ephesus. My husband and I had checked into the beautifully restored Erdem Pansiyon. When our host, Mahmut, learned of my interest in Turkish food, he invited me to spend the day cooking with him. The following morning, Mahmut laid out the ingredients—many of them freshly harvested from his garden—for the güveç (casserole) we would prepare for dinner that evening. After layering lamb, onions, eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes and green beans in a ceramic pot, we scattered bay leaves over the top, sealed the pot and carried it along the cobblestone streets of the village to the bakery. We left the casserole to bake slowly at the side of the baker’s oven for the rest of the day and retreated to the comfortable pension to wait out the intense heat of an Anatolian summer day.

In the welcome cool of the evening, we sat down to a leisurely meal in the garden surrounded by fruit trees and grapevines. After an assortment of traditional Turkish meze (small dishes), which included stuffed grape leaves made from leaves we had plucked from the garden vines, Mahmut lifted the lid of the güveç. The mingling of the vegetables and lamb produced the most enticing aroma. Although we had prepared all the ingredients for the dish, I had the feeling that the casserole had miraculously cooked itself. To finish the meal, Mahmut picked fresh apricots and cherries from nearby trees. Perfection!

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