5:30 am: Awake. Day’s schedule rolls out in mind’s eye. Every minute planned: Kids to camp; me to work; kids from camp; errands; eat dinner; kids to little league; everybody to bed. That part about ‘eat dinner’ is the day’s joke. How will that nutritious, healthy, kid-friendly dinner appear on the table when we return from errands? Magic? I need a fast, easy meal, preferably one I can prepare ahead of time.

5:31 am: Cupboard’s contents march across mind’s view. Meager; it’s a short parade. But there is that chicken. Days earlier Linda at Wisconsinmade.com gave me a frozen chicken to cook and sample. A new artisan has joined Wisconsinmade.com. She raises hormone-free, all natural, free-range chickens on her small, Wisconsin farm, and we’ve begun offering them for sale in our gourmet food store. The chicken has been thawing in the ‘fridge and should be ready to cook now. The artisan suggested I cook it with few seasonings so that we will taste the chicken’s own sweet, delicious flavor. In a household that is seasoning adverse, this request is easy to honor.

5:32 am: Decide to cook the whole chicken in the crock pot. Crock pots are not only for winter stews. In a hot summer, crock pot cooking is a great way to cook a family dinner of meat and vegetables without also heating the kitchen.

8:00 am: Leave the house while chicken cooks in crock pot with red and green sweet peppers, onion, garlic, and thyme. Now I’ve got time to get everything else done in the day. Even the dinner’s rice is on standby in the rice cooker set to deliver cooked rice at 6:00 pm.

Fast forward: 6:00 pm. Delicious, healthy dinner of chicken, vegetables, and rice magically appears on table. The chicken is outstanding; sweet and flavorful, just as the artisan promised. Will use left-overs for chicken salad dinner. Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipes for crock pot chicken and apple, walnut, chicken salad.

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