A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mealtime Musings: Slow Cookers

One thing that struck me about a recent MOPS meeting that I emceed (we were discussing stress-free cooking at the time) was the number of ladies who said that they had never used a slow cooker before. Equally surprising were the handful that claimed to have one in storage... collecting more dust than gravy stains.
In this day and age, where everyone with or without paid work is super busy, the slow cooker is the ideal kitchen companion. I'm not sure what it says about me but I have had a long, satisfying relationship my slow cooker throughout the years and it has given me and hundreds of people a great deal of joy over the years. I have often toyed with the idea of getting a more capacious, oval one but as it is with life, there's always something more urgent requiring immediate use of one's limited funds. But my opinion is that once you start getting into the slow cooker frame of mind, you'll wonder why it took you so long...

I've been using a slow cooker since I got one for a wedding present, almost 14 years ago. But there has always been one in my life for as long as I can remember. All those bitter herbal concoctions and chicken ginseng soups that well-meaning relatives brewed during stressful periods in my young life were supposed to give me greater alertness and better memory recall... except that I don't think they worked on me at all. My mother, who was a great cook, had one of those twin cooker crock pots for years and years... and that was pretty handy for cooking two different dishes simultaneously.  A pity that those, to my knowledge aren't on the market anymore.

There are a number of reasons why slow cookers are great kitchen tools:
  • Dishes can be cooked overnight on Low heat
  • It gives the cook a bit of freedom to do other things while the dish is cooking in the slow cooker
  • Good for working mums and dads who cannot spend a lot of time in the kitchen
  • The food tastes good
  • There's no need to brown food before stewing (although personally I like to)
  • Ingredients can all go in at the same time but stacked according to the cooking time required. Meat at the bottom and vegetables on top etc.
  • There are a whole range of things that can be cooked in the slow cooker

Recently, I tumbled onto a terrific slow cooker recipe book by Alison and Simon Holst which helped me expand my horizons and think beyond stews and roasts. Alison Holst is the Julia Child of New Zealand culinary excellence and something of a national icon.

So... what do I do with my slow cooker?
  • Roasts
  • Stews, curries, tagine
  • Soups
  • Cakes
  • Meat rolls
  • Braised chicken
What do other people do with their slow cooker?

  • Chili Con Carne
  • Jams, Chutneys, Purees
  • Desserts
  • Pasta Dishes
  • Vegetarian Casseroles
  • Sushi
    Generally speaking, what I usually do is prepare the meat and vegies in the morning and let it cook throughout the day. But if you're a bit nervous about leaving it on all day with no human beings in the house, you can always cook it overnight and turn it off first thing in the morning. Don't forget to let your dish cool down before freezing or refrigerating.

    If you're on the hunt for recipes, a recipe book is usually included with the unit. If not, just google it! There must be thousands of recipes out there.

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