Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm in love

with my slow cooker. I hardly cook at all without it anymore.

I have to confess that Mr. Poorhouse does most of the cooking around here. But he's been stressed at work lately and has had less time and energy for the culinary arts. So I lend my hand. Throw stuff in a pot. Turn it on. Come back hours later to food. What's not to love?

This isn't a food blog, but we've saved a ton of money this last year on cheap cuts of meat that cook up delicious in 8 hours or so. 

This week we tried pork chops. You know, it's hard to cook pork chops on the stove. They tend to be tough. But these weren't. They were fall-apart tender. And they couldn't have been simpler. Brown them quickly, add broth and seasonings, cook all day. Take out the chops and for gravy, turn the thing up to high, whisk flour into the drippings, and cook for 10 minutes with no lid. The recipe came from Cooking Light Slow Cooker.

We also find we're more likely to eat (rather than ferment and then toss) vegetables now.  Did you know you can throw a hard squash (like butternut or acorn) or a bunch of sweet potatoes in the cooker in the morning without peeling or any prep other than a quick scrub and stab, and have food cooked and ready to quickly peel and eat when you get home. To me it feels like magic. Cheap. Healthy (no fat). Fast. Er, I mean slow. 

Our all time bestest most delicious recipe was Chicken Korma. The house smells fabulous while it cooks--all cinnamony goodness. You can find the recipe here at my favorite blog on the subject, the fun and helpful, A Year of Slow Cooking

Or, you can get the whole book. It's on my wish list, but if the other recipes are as good as this one, it's a must-have. 

Another winner was pork green chili. I got the recipe from an internet buddy and modified it for the slow cooker. No beans, but lots of kinds of chilis. That was a little more work, but really worth it. Hmmm. I'm making myself hungry.

I have also discovered the magic of steel-cut oats. I set them going at night before I go to bed, and when I wake up, there's instant comfort--no thinking necessary. (I am not a morning person.)

What about equipment? We bought a 6-quarter cooker. It provides plenty of food for the four of us, plus leftovers for Mr. Poorhouse and me to take for our frugal lunches. In our experience, you can skip the programmable thermostat feature. The meat may be to temperature, but it's probably not tender yet. 

At this time of year, the warm, hearty smell of dinner greeting me is mighty welcoming after battling through 20 inches of drifting snow outside.

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