The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Slow, gentle cooking with a slow cooker

slow cooker“Oh I mustn’t forget to go into the garage!” Angela turned the internal key and disappeared into the darkness.
“Fiona, do you happen to know where the light switch is?”

I could find it blind. The first few days when I was working in their empty house the fuses tripped regularly and I was in darkness. Fine if I was near the garage, not so fun if I was upstairs.

Within seconds she was carrying a large cardboard box into the hall.
“It’s a slow cooker. If it works, I’ll take it to France.”
Back in the seventies I had toyed with the idea of buying a slow cooker but decided against it. Who would want to be frying onions and meat before breakfast?
Angela sensed this and added almost apologetically, “I just want it for Steak and Kidney.”

Magical words.
Centre stage, she gently put the box down and turned to me.
“With a slow cooker you don’t even need to fry the meat. Just roll it in seasoned flour, cover it with enough boiling water not to dry out and eight hours later you have steak and kidney to die for.” Her smile was radiant.

I was impressed and astonished that anyone still cooked with these things. So surprised that I was incapable of even thinking of a sensible response. So I just nodded and smiled.

The next day I was propelling my trolley past a large discounted display in Tesco. There was a slow cooker (half the original Tesco price) I immediately thought of Angela’s Steak and Kidney. I could be tossing the meat in seasoned flour at dawn and returning exhausted to the heart of a wonderful meal nine hours later. I grabbed a box and tried it for size in my trolley – there was plenty of room as I had only just started shopping. Then I thought of the palaver of explaining why I had a slow cooker in the boot of the car to D and quickly returned the box to the shelves.

On the drive back home I had plenty of time to reconsider the purchase in depth. Our slow cooker could be the work horse to make our overnight stocks and soup. Surely a 290 watt slow cooker couldn’t use the same energy as a tempramental Zanussi fan assisted oven over the same length of time. It would be using the pwer of three lightbulbs comapered to an energy sucking beauty with heat, light and noisy fan. The slow cooker could silently make casseroles and even pot roasts. Danny didn’t need all these reasons if I whispered “Easy Steak and Kidney” through the gap around the front door he would be pushing a blank cheque though the same slim but draughty slit within seconds. Note must get a bale of draught excluder.

We tried Amelee Issa’s recipe for split peas and ham in the slow cooker today (her excellent recipe appears as a comment on our Ham and Parsley Sauce recipe). A virgin run of our new Slow Cooker and Amalee’s Recipe had every living being in the kitchen happy and expectant for 6 hours. Thanks Amalee it was superb and the dogs finally let rip and bayed until we gave them some too.

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  1. amanda - bangor

    I love my slow cooker! we use it for everything from roasts (chicken)to soups and stews – its brill for minestrone – chop up all your left over bits of veggies, some stock, cup of passata and some small pasta (we like tempestini which are little balls)and a bit of chilli if you like – leave on low for several hours and its yum! (watch out tho’-larger pasta tends to go too soggy) – can also throw in a tin of cannellini beans. Serve up with crusty bread and some grated cheese on top!
    also to follow the cavalo nero thread above I got a great “green” minestrone from a sunday supplement a few years ago – good stock base (veg or chicken) sliced garlic, finely sliced cavalo nero (I tend to take out the stalk), chopped onion and tinned white beans – fry up the veggies lightly, add stock, bring to boil and cook for about 20 mins until cavalo is tender. season and sprinkle of fresh parmesan on top!

  2. Thanks fn, and good morning: found the article very interesting, it seems that you cannot overcook that is BRILLIANT. the mac link took a bit of opening in windows, but persevere like me!

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello OAP

    I have never cooked a pudding in my slow cooker so can’t personally advise. However I Googled and found this which may help you .pdf

  4. Morning can you please tell me if the time needed to steam say a spotted dick pudding which takes 2 hours in a steamer over a pan would be the same in a slow cooker or is it OK to leave in the slow for as long as you wish without it overcooking?

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