The aim is to present methods and recipes for real food that get you out of the kitchen and back to your wheel, needles, and loom. Because I know so many people have different food issues, I will do my best to offer suggestions for substitutions so that everyone can spend less time cooking and more time crafting, without having to resort to take-out pizza.
What is your earliest slow cooker memory? I remember an early Crock Pot in avocado green sitting on the kitchen counter. The first slow cooker I purchased myself was one of the metal rectangular varieties. It was a poor quality appliance and I soon learned that traditional crock pot recipes were never going to work in the device. Turns out it was better suited to growing geraniums on the deck than cooking baked beans. Many years later I bought a real slow cooker. One with a ceramic crock that was ample enough for my big family. During baseball season that cooker got a ton of use. I would fill it up in the afternoon, set the timer, and dinner would be hot and ready to eat when the boys and I arrived home from the game. Before the slow cooker contest was announced it had never occurred to me to plan my cooking around my crafting. Brilliant.
If you do not yet own a slow cooker, an Amazon search brings up many different models and a ton of great cookbooks. Look for a cooker that is sized right for your family. If you are able to find one with more temperature settings than low/ high, or with a timer, you will find yourself turning to it regularly. A slow cooker takes up some cupboard space, but use it often and you will find it well worth a bit of kitchen real estate.
The recipes that follow provide a three course meal that requires 10 minutes up front to load the slow cooker, and 10 minutes at the end to boil noodles, assemble a dessert for the oven and plate the salad. A shopping list is included. I have added substitutions so that vegetarians, vegans and gluten free people can also enjoy a good meal after a day of spinning. Feel free to double or half the recipes as needed for your family.
4 chicken breasts, or any combination of root vegetables 2 pounds or so
8 ounces mushrooms, pre-sliced will save you time 1 small onion Assorted salad greens, enough for four people 1 avocado, if not using cheese curds 4 ounces dried cherries 4 ounces pistachios, shelled 3-4 pounds of berries (fresh or frozen) 8 ounces peas (fresh or frozen)
3-4 pounds of berries (fresh or frozen) 8 ounces peas (fresh or frozen) Vanilla or nut flavored ice cream
8 ounces sour cream (non-dairy works just fine) 8 ounce container of cheese curds 6 ounces butter (or margarine)
12 ounces egg noodles or quinoa pasta 4 ounces chicken or vegetable broth 2 ounces dry white wine Honey Dijon salad dressing
Check the cupboard for
Dijon mustard Granulated sugar Cornstarch (optional) Old-fashioned oats Brown sugar Flour (or gluten free blend) Cinnamon Bay Leaves
Recipes and Photos © Terri Peña.