Cooking Without Cleanup

With Thanksgiving over and more festivities approaching, I've come to realize that although holidays can be wonderful, there's always a sigh of relief when you shut the door behind your last guest—no matter how much fun you had.

After all the shopping, unpacking, prep work and actual cooking, it's then that the real stress and work begins: facing a sink full of dishes. Despite the fact that we all pitched in with the cleanup, I washed so many pots and pans this past Thanksgiving that I wore a hole through my extra–heavy-duty rubber gloves! And dishpan hands are no fun at all.

That night before I fell into bed, I told myself I couldn't face any more cooking for a long, long time. And then the next morning when I woke, it felt like a dream, since I was busy writing out my shopping list for dinner that night. (What was most disappointing—and I guess a sign of a meal enjoyed—is that there were very few Thanksgiving leftovers.)

How could I be so very fickle—one minute swearing off cooking and the next, planning on actually turning on my stove so soon? All it took was a new cookbook I happily discovered that could save the bother of washing pots and pans while still cooking fabulous meals.

The Parchment Paper Cookbook is a find. And it's good for your health—both mentally and physically. Mentally, because by the time you're finished cooking, you can be free of any stress and extra work. You can actually sit down and digest your meal in peace, without having to worry about a sink full of pots and pans or baking dishes to scrub. All you have to do is throw away (or recycle) some parchment paper. And cooking in parchment is a healthy way to go, because it uses a minimal amount of oil (if any) or other fat and seals in the flavors, even allowing a delectable sauce to form right inside the packet.

It's not just about dinner, either. The book's award-winning author, Brette Sember, has come up with creative and tasty recipes to cook up breakfast (so you don't ignore the most important meal of the day!), lunch, dinner and even dessert with this ingenious method. Some yummy examples: Baked Oatmeal, Green Tea Salmon with Ginger, Roasted Parmesan Broccoli and Cauliflower, Sesame Soba Noodles and Strawberry Dark Chocolate Crepes.

Now you know what was on my shopping list.

And now for some exciting news: since I love to share not only knowledge but books and other goodies, we're giving away a copy of this cookbook to one lucky reader. Your name will be chosen at random from the list of commenters. I'll notify the winner by e-mail (so make sure to include your e-mail address in your comment). You'll have 48 hours to respond.  If you don't, a new name will be chosen—and you'll be forever scrubbing pots and pans.

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