Cool weather isn’t here yet, but we got a glimpse of it when a cold front saved us from certain doom during the recent hurricanes. Plus, this week marks the first day of fall. Ready or not, slow cooker season is upon us. Make sure you’re prepared by grabbing a copy of the newly published “Stock the Crock” cookbook (Oxmoor House, $21.99) by Phyllis Good, creator of the bestselling “Fix-It and Forget-It” series.

Good has compiled 100 delicious recipes as well as 200 easy-to-follow variations to suit your dietary need, be it gluten-free, paleo, vegan, etc.

Complete with advice on choosing the right slow cooker (you’d be surprised), tips on using them to poach or bake, as well as other hacks such as a scent diffuser, steam bath or humidifier, this collection of pages is a bit more than just a cookbook. But with sections highlighting pasta mains and vegetarian, poultry, beef and pork, sides and sweet treats, Good is covering all the bases. There is even a “Make Your Own Basics” chapter I find very useful.

“The bar for the recipes in this cookbook was high,” Good says. “I looked for the recipes that no slow-cooker user should be without — the ones that guarantee make-it-again results. I’ve also included all the know-how that I’ve learned through the years about slow cookers and how to get them to do their best work.”

Standouts for me include Warm Clam Dip, Chicken Tikka Masala, Veggie Lasagna and Pumpkin Spice Créme Brulée (use ramekins in the water bath). Whether you’re making dinner, sides or just filling the room with the scent of citrus and cloves, this book is a really good guide and is also available in e-book format.

Pinot on a pedestal
I was fortunate enough to be a part of the recent pinot noir tasting panel with speaker Jimmy Kawalek of Ancien Wines. We enjoyed five different wines, each from different subregions of Napa Valley and Willamette. It was amazing to taste the difference in these grapes from their proprietary AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) side by side.

Although Oregon is known for pinot noir, I couldn’t help leaving with a bottle from Red Dog Vineyard from atop the cool western side of Sonoma Mountain. I’ll be back for more of the Ancien stuff, but while there I had to nab an R. Stuart and Co. Love Oregon pinot noir rosé to close out my summer. I love it even over Kawalek’s Big Fire.

Thanks to Jim and Carrie Cox for an informative evening. Pay attention to Southern Napa for more events like this one.

Breakfast in the buff
Back in my day, “naked taco” meant something completely different, but Taco Bell is augmenting its breakfast offerings with the new Naked Egg Taco. The shell of the taco is a fried egg, filled with customizable breakfast ingredients.

Base price is $1.99, but if you’re too modest for naked they will dress it in a Gordita flatbread.