This is my much-used and well-loved slow cooker. Remember the old Crock Pots of the 70’s? Well … this is the beefed up version for the 21st century woman (and I know a few men who are fans too). These things come in different sizes, so if you have a small family, get a small one … a large family makes better use of a larger one. They are inexpensive to run, don’t heat up the house and bubble away safely and happily while you are out for the day or at work. I have seen them as cheap as $29 at stores like Aldi and Big W, and of course you can pay big prices for top of the line models.
I’ve heard people gripe about them being no good because they don’t have a timer. Well … there’s a good reason for that. You don’t want to go dumping in your raw meat before bed and then have it start cooking in the morning … ummmm … food poisoning anyone? If you really want to get everything ready the night before, make sure your meat is defrosted (if you’re the meat freezing type like me), and you can pre-cut things like potatos, onions & veges and keep them all in the fridge overnight. Then in the morning you just chuck it all in, turn it on (make sure it’s on at the power point!!!) and get on with your day.
These are 2 of my favourite packet mixes to use in my slow cooker. On the left is a beef straganoff from Aldi. For that I throw in a 500g pack of Aldi beef strips, a sliced brown onion, 4-5 sliced mushrooms and the packed mix (shaken up with some water in my Tupperware shaker of course). I find the beef can get tough, so I put it on around 2pm, high for 1 hour, then on low until dinner. Perfect! On the right is a McCormicks slow cooker sachet. I find these a bit strong, so I only use half a sachet, with about 750g-1kg of chicken thigh (breast is also good, but I like dark meat) and follow the directions on the packet. You use coconut milk/cream with this one (and that does get a bit solid during winter LOL), and I just pour in half a tin, mix the sachet in with the other half, then tip that in and stir it all about. I’ll often throw in a few cups of frozen vegs with this … Yummo! I do use my rice cooker to accompany this, and by using 750g-1kg of meat (instead of the recommended 500g) I get a lot of leftovers which do hubby for lunch, and a couple of meals for the freezer too!
Pretty much, if you can cook it as a casserole in the oven, you can cook it in a slow cooker. A quick Google search will net you more recipes than you can use in a lifetime! Super Food Ideas magazine often does a slow cooker/pressure cooker feature in a winter edition, and there are lots of slow cooker recipe books available too. Just have a flick through first, because a lot of them are American, and the ingredients they suggest just aren’t available here. You can pretty much substitute anything you want, though. One of my favourite resources for slow cooker recipes is on the Stay at Home Mum website HERE. At the very least, grab a nice marinated chook from Aldi for under $10, unwrap it, chuck it in and turn it on low for 6-8 hours. YUM!
How is this a time saver? Well, how long does it take you to cook dinner? I’ve timed myself putting on a beef straganoff and it’s less than 5 minutes, and the slow cooker does all the work for me. No stirring, tasting, adding ingredients or faffing about. Throw this baby on in the morning and just serve up dinner when it’s done without slaving over a hot stove, worrying about the kids touching the oven or stressing about what’s for dinner at the last minute and grabbing expensive (and usually unhealthy) takeaway. So … do you have a slow cooker? Do you use it all the time, or not at all? I would love to know what your favourite slow cooker meal is! You can comment below or come over to the Cake & Enemy Facebook page and share your fave photo or recipe there.