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For Christians, Easter is a time of reflection, gratitude and deep faith that goes to the very heart of Christianity. For truck drivers who celebrate Easter on the road, it’s also time for feasting!

We asked our truck driver community on Facebook whether they are celebrating Easter on the road or at home this year, and the poll results so far are included on the left.

For the truck drivers who are celebrating Easter over the road, here is a story of a truck driver couple who are making the most out of the holiday on the road this year—even planning to maintain their same family traditions in their truck.

Mike Wolford and Emily Allen are among the truck drivers preparing an Easter meal in the truck this year.

The couple is looking forward to commemorating the day.

“I feel very blessed to be where I’m at right now,” says Allen. “For me, Easter is about celebrating Jesus and the fact that he is risen. I want to make something special, something I don’t make every day, because it is a celebration for us.”

Easter celebration

This year, Allen will make a meal that reminds her of her upbringing: pineapple-glazed ham.

“I’m going to bake a ham with brown sugar and pineapple, just like Momma used to do,” she says. Allen laughs at the thought. “It’ll be a whole lot smaller than Momma used to do, though.” She’ll cook it in one of her kitchen standbys, her Lunchbox oven. She’ll accompany it with mashed potatoes, corn, beets, and biscuits with melted butter.

For Wolford, an avid griller, Easter is about celebrating Jesus. But it took a woman’s touch to inspire him to celebrate Easter on the road with a special roadside meal.

“Before Emily joined me out here a year ago, cooking on the truck was always about quick and simple,” he says. “I never would have considered doing what we do now. I like the idea of a special Easter dinner, but I would not have made one if I were by myself.”

Allen is a great cook, preparing dinner in the truck at least six days a week.

A typical meal Emily Allen and Mike Wolford make together on their truck.

In her kitchen lineup is everything from an Aroma cooker to an electric skillet.

“Somewhere along the line, I developed a passion for cooking,” says Allen, who learned mostly from her mom. She sharpened her culinary skills further while working at a Michigan restaurant in her teens.

“I like good food,” she says, “whether it’s on Easter or any other day.”

We’re always interested to hear how truckers celebrate Easter from the road. Join our community here to share your story!

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Trucker Kevin Carter ate sushi one night and figured he could make his own sushi for a fraction of the cost. That was a year-and-a-half ago. Carter, a company driver for Titan Trucking in Canada, has been rolling sushi in his truck ever since.

“The key to making a good sushi roll is patience and perseverance,” Carter says. “You gotta make sure the rice is spread out evenly and it’s a nice, tight roll.”

Carter spreads the rice three-sixteenths of an inch thick and tops it with ahi tuna, salmon, mackerel, even swordfish.

Carter learned to roll sushi through trial and error and by watching online videos. He’s now so skilled that he rolls sushi about once a month.

Carter is self taught in much of what he does. He builds houses from the ground up, inks a great design, and cooks just about anything. At age 7, Carter cooked beef stroganoff for the first time. It sparked in him an interest in cooking that has lasted a lifetime.

He learned to cook from his mom as a youngster growing up in Calgary, Canada. “I’m a mama’s boy,” he says. “She instilled in me a quality set of morals and self esteem. She always wanted me to push myself and make myself better. And she succeeded.”

He Honed His Craft In The School of Hard Knocks

Carter obtained his GED in an unlikely place—the penitentiary. He worked in the kitchen there for three years and became a skilled baker. At 26, after his release, Carter attended culinary school and became a certified “Red Seal” chef, qualifying him to cook in Canadian hotels.

Before becoming a truck driver, the multi-talented Carter also owned a tattoo business for a couple of years. For the record, Carter has 39 tattoos, 34 of which he inked himself. He learned to tattoo in 1991, using himself as a canvas to perfect his skill.

“I was sitting there drawing one day and some guy came up to me and said, ‘I want you to ink that on me,’” Carter recalls. “It was fun, I was good at it, and I just stuck with it. Then, I started doing it for others. And, the more I did it, the more I liked it. The more I liked it, the better I got.”

One of the tattoos Carter has inked

Carter estimates he’s inked upwards of 30,000 tattoos, including 80 memorializing someone.

These days, he’s devoted to his CDL trucking job, but he still inks and does piercings for clients in his free time.

“I like driving,” he says. “It’s a good fit for me. I’m on the road for about three to five weeks at a time. I see so much of the country, so I’m able to scout out places where I’d like to buy land in retirement.”

Recently, Carter did buy land—eight acres on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. When he retires from his CDL trucking job, Carter plans to build an 850-square-foot house there that runs on solar power. He’ll hunt his own food and live off the grid. It’s a longtime dream of his 15 years in the making.

That’s the thing about Carter—he never stops dreaming.

He puts his dreams into action, too. “I’m constantly striving for knowledge,” he says. “If I’m not learning, I’m not living.”

The dream precedes the goal, drivers. What dreams are you working to make reality? Join our community here and tell us about it!

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Smoking, Meats

Part of Drive My Way’s ‘Big Rigs and Barbecue’ Series

If Karl Pickard were a recipe, he’d make for an interesting mix: one part truck driver, one part foodie.

The company driver for ATS out of St. Cloud, Minn., started cooking in his mama’s kitchen at age 8.

He’s pushed his culinary boundaries ever since, whether he’s cooking at home or on his truck.

“Us out here on the road, we don’t have much. The one thing I do insist on is good food,” says Pickard in a smooth drawl. Pickard puts few limits on what he’ll cook, even if it means having to improvise while on the road for his CDL trucking job.

Karl and Jeanette“Everything we cook really does not have a recipe,” he says of himself and his wife, Jeanette. “We’ll look at the recipe online and get the general idea, then we take it in any direction we want to take it.”

Having a CDL trucking job doesn’t hinder Pickard’s ability to cook what he wants. He’s been at it long enough to make anything work. On the road, Pickard loves to grill truckside. On any given evening, he could be firing up brats, sausages or the stuffed hamburger Jeanette makes.

But when he’s home, it’s all about the smoker. Pickard learned to smoke meats when he was a teenager. He learned from watching his uncle and stepdad, who were “big into it.”

By now, Pickard, 57, is big into it, too. He’s smoked it all, from brisket and pork shoulder to fish and sausages. When asked what he prefers to smoke, he replies, “Everything. I’m an eater. I’m a foodie. I just like eatin.”

The Prep

Pickard loves pork short ribs most of all. He recommends first pulling off the membrane on the inside of the ribs. If the membrane is on, the dry rub won’t soak in. And for Pickard, it’s all about the dry rub.

“The rub gives the meat its flavor,” he says. “So you start with a good dry rub, like McCormick’s applewood dry rub. I add to that chipotle, cayenne powder, brown sugar and black pepper. You rub it on your ribs really thick—really thick—and put them in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.”

When Pickard’s ribs have marinated long enough, he fires up the grill to 225 degrees. He soaks wood chips in water, getting them nice and wet so smoke develops. Then he puts his ribs on the grill and closes it up, letting them smoke for 8 to 10 hours at low temperature.

Cooking on the Truck

Pickard cooks ribs on the truck, too, but when he does, it’s quite a different process. When the ribs have Karlmarinated in the refrigerator for 24 hours, he cuts the slab into three equal pieces and places them in his Aroma cooker, one slab on top of the other. He sets them to “slow cook” for three to four hours, “until they’re nice and tender,” he says.

Then he fires up his 18-inch gas grill and cooks the ribs for about 10 more minutes per side, until they’re crispy.

“If you want sauce, I’ll bring sauce to the table,” Pickard says. “I do not sauce my ribs. I take pride in what I make. It’s the best feeling to see the looks on people’s faces while they’re eating what I cooked.”

Missed our first “Big Rigs and Barbecue” story? Check it out here.

Featured image courtesy RealAKP / Pixabay, other images courtesy of Karl Pickard.

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Cedar Plank Grilling

Lee Fisher, an over the road company driver from Colorado, has liked cedar plank cooking ever since he tried it one year ago and won an online cooking challenge with the recipe. This Easter, Lee and his wife, Kari, will be spending the holiday on the road. But that’s not stopping them from cooking Easter dinner on 18 wheels. They’ll be preparing their winning recipe: cedar plank salmon.

“The more we experimented with cedar plank cooking, the more we learned how to do it properly,” Lee says.

The key is to soak the cedar plank in warm water for one hour before cooking, Lee says, then place the plank on a warm grill for about seven minutes before adding the fresh salmon—“to where the plank starts to smoke.”

Truck drivers prepare Easter dinner on the roadWhen the salmon is done cooking, it retains a nice smoky flavor. On Easter, the Fishers will serve it atop a bed of wild rice and accompany it with grilled asparagus for a complete, healthy meal.

Cooking on the road has brought the Fishers ever closer, Lee says, especially on holidays such as Easter. “It’s a joint effort when we cook. It’s made our relationship stronger. Those days where basically I’m stuck in high traffic situations, breaking the grill out, it’s like therapy.”

Keeping it Simple

People with CDL trucking jobs prepare Easter meals on their trucksEarl “Bugsy” Milroy will be cooking an Easter dinner on the truck for the first time this year. “I just figured I’ll be out here anyway, so why not?” reasons the OTR owner operator leased to C.R. England. Milroy plans to cook something simple, like ham with carrots and potatoes.

Milroy, who’s had a CDL trucking job for 23 years, enjoyed cooking Thanksgiving dinner on the road last year and is eager to see how his Easter meal fares. In cooking, Milroy relies most on his plug-in cooler and Lunch Box stove. The stove, shaped like a lunch box, works like a slow-cooker.

“I like the fact that I made it,” Milroy says of his cooking. “More and more at truck stop restaurants, the food doesn’t seem to be prepared with as much care as I would give my own food.”

Milroy, a Christian, savors the tradition of the Easter meal as much as the food itself. “I was raised with traditional holiday values,” he says. “I learned most of my cooking from my ex-wife. My mother, God rest her soul, couldn’t cook worth a damn. But my ex-wife is a really good cook, and I learned most of what I know from her.”

Lightening-Up Traditional Meals

Truck drivers cook Easter meals in their trucksLike Milroy, Carie Partin is a Christian who loves the tradition behind holiday meals.

“Easter means life, resurrection. It means hope for us,” says Partin, who made an Easter meal on the truck for the first time last year. “I still want to carry on my mom’s Easter tradition. It was important to her, and it’s something I never want to die out. Even if it’s just me and my husband, I want to hang on to it.”

Partin rides shotgun with her husband, James, an owner operator lease-purchase to U.S. Express. Their Easter dinner will be smaller and lighter than last year’s meal. Like the Fishers, the Partins are on a health kick. James has lost 21 pounds, and Carie’s blood pressure is lower than ever.

Truck drivers make Easter dinner on their trucksThose results have inspired them to cook lighter alternatives like cauliflower “mashed potatoes.” But Partin will make her signature deviled eggs again. Last year she shaped them like chicks; on Sunday, she’ll make them flower-shaped with a garnish of spring onions.

“It’s still the Easter tradition,” Partin says. “But getting healthier makes the culinary experience more fun.”

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While many are home gorging on Thanksgiving Day, some CDL truck drivers won’t have that luxury. That’s not stopping them from cooking a Thanksgiving feast on their big rigs, though.

“I  have little more than a butane stove and a big ‘ol skillet. That’s it,” says driver Kani Kahapea, who cooked Thanksgiving dinner in his truck last year and may have to do it again this year. Despite limited space and little equipment, the Swift owner operator created a feast reminiscent of his Hawaiian upbringing.

Kani Thanksgiving dinner“In my family, we do Thanksgiving with ham and turkey,” Kahapea says. “I wanted my dinner to be as similar to that as possible, so I did strawberry and guava-glazed ham and deep-fried turkey in my truck. It wasn’t going to be easy to fit a whole turkey breast in my skillet, so I deep-fried it, half at a time.”

Kahapea, who once worked as a cook in Hawaii, also made creamed corn, potato salad, rice and stuffing. Modifying recipes he normally makes at home, he tweaked traditional dishes so they were “semi-homemade.”

Karl and JeanetteAnd Kahapea is not alone. Others with CDL trucking jobs are making big spreads in their big rigs, too. Karl Pickard, a company driver with
Anderson Trucking Service, will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner with his wife, Jeanette, in their truck for the first time this year. Jeanette’s going to cook the turkey and Karl’s going to make green beans with bacon and onions.

Their setup won’t allow them to cook a whole turkey, so they’ll cook a turkey breast with a cranberry-orange glaze. Garlic cream cheese mashed potatoes and fudge for dessert are on the menu, too.

“We have several things in this truck that make cooking easy,” says Karl. “A Coleman stove, a toaster oven, an Aroma cooker. We’ve got a mini-kitchen in here.”

Still, it’s hard being away from family on holidays, says Carie Partin, a former CDL driver who now rides shotgun with her husband, James. The Partins’ first holiday on the road came last Easter, when Carie cooked up ham, mashed potatoes and deviled eggs shaped like chicks.

“It’s lonely out here on the holidays,” she says. “Easter was my way of taking home to the highway. It made me feel like we had a little bit of home right there with us.”

CarieThe Partins will do it again this Thanksgiving. They’d hoped to be home, but it’s not going to happen. They’ll make the most of it, with slow-cooked chicken, deviled eggs, the rice stuffing Carie’s mom used to make and a vegetable platter shaped like a turkey.

“Don’t let your mind limit you,” Carie tells big rig cooks who have to be on the road this year. “Look at it as an adventure. Enjoy it the best way you can. That’s how we approach it. We have a lot to be thankful for.”

What do you have to be thankful for? Join our online community here and tell us.

Featured image courtesy Google.com

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in November 2015.

glazed ham

Strawberry/Guava-Glazed Ham Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. ham steak
  • 1/4 cup strawberry preserves
  • 1/2 cup guava juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
Directions:

        1. In a pot, put strawberry preserves, brown sugar and guava juice.
        2. Bring to a simmer.
        3. Reduce by 1/4. It may need a little thickening. If so, a simple mix of cornstarch and water will do it.
        4. Pan sear ham steaks until cooked through, add glaze to pan and coat steaks well.
        5. Serve alongside the rest of the Thanksgiving meal.

 

Melissa Wilson and Jonathan Fish spend between $60 and $150 on groceries every two weeks.

That’s a lot less than the $245 a week they were spending on food before they started cooking in their truck drivers cookingtruck one year ago.

“It was costing us about $16 a plate for dinner and a drink, so it adds up quick,” says Wilson, who has been riding shotgun with Fish, her boyfriend, for five years. “Cooking in the truck, we have leftovers most of the time now. We’re saving a lot of money. As a result, we are able to take care of other things we need to take care of.”

And while Wilson and Fish are seeing the financial payoff of cooking in their truck, that’s hardly the only benefit they’re getting.

“Cooking in the truck benefits you iMelissa and Jonathan breakfastn so many ways,” says Wilson. “It adds a whole new dimension to life on the road. We feel better, the food is fresher and it tastes better, not to mention our risk of food poisoning has diminished.”

After a few years on the road, the couple began getting tired of the usual truck stop fare and the damage it was doing to their wallets. But they kept at it—until Wilson’s father gave them a microwave oven as a Christmas gift. “That’s when things started changing for us,” Wilson says. “We tried to eat a little bit better and get more variety in our life.”

In addition to the microwave, the couple has expanded its cooking accessory lineup to include a toaster oven, electric skillets, a crockpot, even an egg cooker for making deviled eggs. Their menu has expanded with each new piece of equipment they’ve bought, too. It now includes everything from taco pie to pork chops.

While the couple loves the money they save by cooking in the truck, the duo gets another, more unexpected reward out of the deal.

“Cooking has enhanced our relationship,” Wilson says. “It’s brought us closer. We plan our meals together. We shop together. We have a lot of fun with it.”

 

Taco Pie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 bag shredded lettuce
  • 1 large tomato or 2 plum tomatoes
  • 1 small bag shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 small white or yellow onion
  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 pre-rolled pie crust
  • 1 small container of sour cream
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • 1 aluminum pie pan with lid for storage
Directions:

  1. Cook ground beef and drain.
  2. Add taco seasoning and follow directions on pkg.
  3. Chop half of the onion and add to ground beef along with half jar of salsa. More can be used to your liking.
  4. Mix well and let simmer until onions are cooked.
  5. Keep warm and set aside.
  6. Fit crust to pie pan.
  7. Pre-heat toaster oven to 350 degrees and bake pie crust for 12 mins. Keep an eye on it, as ovens vary. The back will cook sooner in most toaster ovens, so rotate halfway through cooking.
  8. When crust is done, let cool a bit.
  9. Spoon layer of refried beans on bottom to your liking.
  10. Pour in warm ground beef mixture and spread evenly.
  11. Top with shredded lettuce, cheese and chunks of tomato.
  12. Serve with sour cream and extra salsa if you like.

Ricotta soufflé. Asparagus soup. Even a full Thanksgiving dinner. Cooking in a truck just reached Richard and Sharleenanother realm. It’s the realm of lovebirds Sharleen Winschell and Richard Launius, fiancé owner operators who drive for Pyramid Logistics, transporting trade shows around the country.

For Winschell and Launius, cooking is a passion. Together, they watch the Food Network on satellite TV, dine out at nice restaurants and savor each opportunity to gather new recipe ideas.

“We went out to a Todd English restaurant in Connecticut. They served celery puree with my meal,” Winschell says. “It was so good that we said, ‘Wow, wonder if we can make this.’ Two days later, we made it.”

Not every driver could cook up what Launius and Winschell do on a truck. The couple, after all, has the luxury of ample counter space and upscale appliances. Among them is a glass-top, sunken stove that enables them to cook while the truck is moving—and a generator that only uses 6 gallons of fuel every 10 hours. In the end, it’s a cost-effective setup that makes eating on the road much more affordable and healthier, they say.

Like a great recipe, Launius’s penchant for fine cuisine and Winschell’s panache for home cooking strike the perfect balance. While her home cooking style resulted from years of cooking for her kids, his culinary palate resulted from his love of great food—and something far more pressing: type 2 diabetes.

“He was almost disqualified from driving four years ago because his sugar levels were very high, almost 300,” Winschell recalls. “He was told he had 30 days to get his sugars under control or he would be disqualified from driving.”

That month was tough, but the couple got through it. Launius got his sugar level under control through medicine and diet.

“I knew I had to do it, but I probably wouldn’t have done it without Sharleen,” Launius says. “Now, my knees feel better, my back doesn’t hurt. I sleep a little better. I can tell a big difference.”

By making wise substitutions, such as pureed cauliflower for mashed potatoes, Launius has lost 50 pounds in the last four years.

Winschell and Launius each started driving trucks in the mid-1980s. They’ve been driving together for two years now. Winschell has been cooking since she was 10, when her mother insisted she learn. Launius learned from watching his father and uncle, the latter of whom was an Army cook.

Today, cooking still is a family affair. When the couple visits Winschell’s daughters, “the very first thing we do is load up the truck with things they want to eat,” Winschell says. “We know we’ll be cooking when we get there.”

 Ricotta souffle

Ricotta souffle

Images courtesy Sharleen Winschell; featured image Google.com

Ricotta Souffle Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • 3 tblsp flour
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of fruit preserves of your choosing
  • 1 whole vanilla bean
Directions:

  1. Butter 4 ramekins then coat with sugar. 
  2. Mix 3 tblsp flour, 1 cup ricotta, 1/8 tsp salt, 3 egg yolks, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and the interior of a vanilla bean (slice in 1/2 lengthwise. Using a knife tip, scrape the “meat” from the bean, add it to the mix).
  3. Beat the egg whites from 3 eggs with 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.
  4. Fold egg whites into egg yolk mixture.
  5. Fill ramekins up half way with the egg mixture, then spoon in whatever fruit preserve you like (about 1 tblsp per ramekin)
  6. Cover to top of ramekin with more egg mixture.
  7. Bake on 400 degrees in a convection oven for about 7 to 10 minutes or just until tops are browned.
  8. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve warm. Fruit in middle will be very hot. Be careful not to shake or jar the oven or they will collapse.

Chris Cox is cooking dinner. But he’s not in his kitchen. He’s cooking meals from a much more unlikely place — his semi.

For the veteran truck driver, who has found his niche as a company driver for Ozark Motor Lines, the road to this culinary triumph was long and full of misunderstanding.Chris Cox photo 2

“For a long time I was operating under these misconceptions about not being able to cook in the truck,” says Cox. “For some reason, I just thought it couldn’t be done.”

But that was bound to change.

And about five years ago, it did change, when Cox fell on hard times. Cox’s former employer was bought out, he took a huge pay cut, and he was going broke. He had to reduce his expenses in a hurry.

For Cox, who for years dined out twice a day, reducing his expenses had to start with his eating habits. He began cooking in the truck.

“For me, that was hard,” he says. “It was a big change of my lifestyle.”

For two years, Cox struggled with cooking in his truck. He did the dishes with bins of soap and water. It was a splashy mess. Then Cox discovered the Big Truck Cooking Group on Facebook, and his culinary world changed.

“It was my involvement with Big Truck Cooking that radicalized everything for me,” he says. “All those years of failure, and then all of a sudden I just stumbled across this group — those people are doing this on a truck? Aw, no way!”

For Cox, the group was a godsend. Through it, he learned he could clean up with baby wipes, that they wouldn’t leave a residue on his dishes. He ditched the soap and water, and his imagination soared.

The man who grew up watching his grandmother cook (and who once worked as a professional chef) had found his creative outlet again. It freed him to cook in the spontaneous style he loves, right on his truck.Kilbasa

Cox’s grandmother, now 96, was his biggest culinary influence. She grew up during the Great Depression. “That’s a whole other style of cooking,” Cox says. “You couldn’t go to the store to buy the ingredients you didn’t have. You just had to go without them. And that’s how my grandmother cooked. She made due with what she had. As a young boy, I picked up on that.”

To this day, Cox likes improvising. Big Truck Cooking introduced Cox to the Aroma cooker, which diversifies his menu with its versatility. It’s a steamer, skillet, crock pot and rice cooker all in one. He often uses it to cook Eckrich kielbasa because any unused sausage is easy to seal and store.

“The Aroma was a game changer for me,” he says. “The Aroma and baby wipes were necessary for me to fall into a groove. Now I’m definitely in it. It’s a good place to be.”

Find the best CDL trucking job for you with Drive My Way. Register today. It’s free!

Featured image from Pixabay.com; other images courtesy Chris Cox

 

Veggie dish

Veggie-a-go-go

Veggie-a-go-go Recipe:
Ingredients:

  • Half cup of rice
  • Half cup of water
  • Tablespoon of butter
  • 1 bunch of green beans
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 small or medium can tomato sauce
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 container sliced mushrooms
Directions:

  1. Put half cup of rice, half cup of water and a spoonful of butter in an Aroma cooker. Put Aroma on White Rice setting and wait for timer to beep when done.
  2. While rice is cooking, cut the ends off a bunch of green beans and cut the green beans and corn cobs in half. Slice onions and mince garlic.
  3. Open a can of tomato sauce
  4. Slice sweet, yellow peppers into “matchsticks”
  5. When rice is done cooking, put in a bowl and set it aside for the last step. Put corn cobs in bottom of pot. Put green beans in steam basket with 3 cups of water.
  6. Put Aroma on Steam setting and set the timer for 20 minutes. Close lid, press Start.
  7. The Aroma has a count down timer. At 10-minute mark, add crushed, minced garlic to the beans in the steam basket.
  8. At 7-minute mark, add yellow peppers in steam basket.
  9. At 3-minute mark, add sliced mushrooms and onion to pot where the corn is.
  10. When timer goes off, butter the corn and plate it.
  11. Drain the water from the pot and add the rice set aside earlier, along with all remaining veggies, to the Aroma pot (except corn).
  12. Put Aroma on the STS setting (Sear Then Simmer), add can of tomato sauce and stir while pot bubbles with flavor. Serve when the smell starts driving you crazy.