Ms Betterhome

Slow cooker weather
May 2, 2010, 10:58 pm
Filed under: food, home & hearth, Uncategorized, vegan eating | Tags: , ,

I use my slow cooker year round to make big batches of beans & chickpeas, but the weather is getting cool enough now that I’m starting to think about soups and stews. Most people who use slow cookers here use them to cook meat (and I’m guessing it’s the same elsewhere), but mine is a meat-free zone. I can’t recommend any particular brand – I just went to the Breville Factory Seconds outlet about 4 years ago, and bough a 5 litre ‘Avanti’ model that looked aesthetically pleasing. It  was about $40, and works fine.

I’ve tried a few recipes from Robin Robertson’s book Fresh From the Vegetarian Slowcooker, and there are also some good ones at the Fat-Free Vegan blog (link in my blog roll). Robertson offers some good tips for using ‘modern’ slow cookers, that are generally pretty efficient & cook a meal in 6-ish hours. One good one is to prep the meal at night, and refrigerate the crock (and its contents) til morning. If you put it on just as you leave the house, you gain some extra time, as the cold crock will take an hour or so to get to cooking temperature.  You can also use a pre-set timer… but you need to be aware of general food-safety precautions, & not leave your dinner sitting around at room temperature for more than 2 hours before cooking.

I find if I’m going to be out a long time (it’s pretty easy to be gone 10 hours in a working day when I factor in traffic) I try to make something that is forgiving in terms of that cooking time ie a dish where it doesn’t matter if the texture is very soft. I do find that slow-dishes with added sugar or molasses will brown faster over a long day in the cooker – not enough to burn, but enough to make the crock harder to clean, so be warned. This includes dishes with commercial pasta sauce added, which always seems to have *some* sugar in it.

Years ago I went to a traditional Chinese medicine practioner for tiredness (and assorted malaises), and she said that TCM recommends slow cooked food for people who are unwell, or working hard, as it’s easy to digest. I cetainly like to have a bowl of soup if I’m home late from work (as I will be on Mondays for another month). It satisfies me without making my stomach feel too heavy or full for sleep, and the slow-cooker make it easy to have dinner waiting when I walk in the door.


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