Slow Cooker, Quick Dinner!

Everyone has that lifesaving bit of kitchen equipment at home. Some people can’t live without their mandolin, for others it’s a good old-fashioned hand whisk – but for me, my best friend in the kitchen has to be my slow cooker. It was a wedding present from my aunt and uncle, and little did they know they saved me from many hungry nights and eating apart from my husband. I hadn’t long started a job where I was working late shifts from 12pm-8pm, and I was struggling making the simplest meals I could but still not eating until 9pm most evenings, which really wasn’t fair on poor Dave who was sitting there waiting for me to come home, and as I’m still teaching him how to cook, there wasn’t much he could do about it.

In comes Lakeland ltd mini slow cooker, designed for just two, making it perfect for us. People at work had actually been telling me about their slow cookers waiting for them at the end of a late shift, and I had thought of looking into it myself. I was a bit wary, having been brought up by my dad’s phobia of the things believing there was no more variety than casseroles containing beef one night, lamb the next, but at work I was getting recipes for Thai pork and all sorts, so I was ecstatic when we got a slow cooker AND recipe book for our wedding present.

I do two lates a week, so the need for variety was even greater than just bringing my dad round to this style of cooking, I wanted to make sure we weren’t having the same thing several times a month, and that the preparation was easy enough for me to do before I went into work each day. A quick browse through the recipe book my cousin picked out brought up things like Abruzzi lamb, a dish with tomatoes and pasta, various curries from across the globe as well as the more homely beef and ale hotchpots, or steak and mushroom pies. At the moment, I’ve just been using recipes with the very slow cooking times of 8-10hrs, tending to be the meat options, but the recipe book also contains soups, fish and vegetable meals, which all take a lot less time to cook so I’ve not really been able to try them out yet.

The recipes we have tried though are all really delicious and so different – the first one I tried was the Abruzzi lamb, made with an onion and stock mixture, with cherry tomatoes and pancetta with rosemary to go perfectly with the lamb. I have honestly never tasted meat so tender – it’s almost like fish in the way it falls to pieces as you cut it up, and quite literally melts in your mouth. I wouldn’t have put lamb with pasta personally, but it works beautifully, feeling like a really rustic, gorgeous italian dish. Another amazing one was a tomato chicken dish where the rice is cooked in the slow cooker, really flavourful and interesting, almost like paella but not. The beef and ale hotchpot was so rich and again the meat was cooked to perfection, and the oriental dishes are a really nice way of having something unusual but with little effort. All the recipes take barely more than 30 minutes to prepare in the morning, generally just browning off the meat and mixing up and onion mixture of some sort with whatever stock is required – it could not be easier.

The only problem is I’m whizzing through the recipes so quickly! Two a week doesn’t take long to finish off all the recipes than I can leave to cook all day, I’ll just have to try out the fish recipes at the weekend. I can’t wait to move into the bigger family home, get a larger slow cooker and convince my dad that there is more to the slow cooker than a boring casserole.

Yours,

The Vintage Housewife x

P.S I now have a word to the wise – follow your slow cooker recipes EXACTLY – with something that you’re watching as you’re cooking it’s ok to make substitutes and correct as and when, but I left out yellow bean paste of a recipe and it dried out quite a bit :s not inedible, in fact the flavours were still really tasty, but poor Dave was left with a bit of a mess to clean up!

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