Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Joy Of Slow Cooking

It's now two and a half years since myself and my Lovely Husband™ moved (or moved back, in my case) to London. When we did, I arrived a few months ahead of him, and got lots of things sorted out - a job, a place to live, etc. When he arrived, I had only recently found a flat, and it was completely unfurnished. We put that right over the next few months. Along the way, we had one of the biggest arguments we have ever had. It was about cushions. I won't go into the details, but the end result was that the Lovely Husband™ ended up going back to a department store and returning some items that he had bought, and being issued with a credit slip. Some time later, we used that credit slip to buy a slow cooker.

We haven't made that much use of it until recently, although any time we did, we appreciated the results. However, I've been making soups of late, and the more I do, the more I come to love the slow cooker. For those of you who have never used one, or aren't inclined to cook, let me just say that they are very, very easy to use, and allow you to make some really beautiful food with so little effort it's almost wrong.

A couple of weeks ago, I did a lentil soup with a ham hock in it. Wow - it was divine! One of the tastiest soups I've ever had. Yesterday, partly out of curiosity, and partly to satisfy a dietary-related new year's resolution*, I essayed a similar broth, but without the benefit of the ham hock. It turned out stunning. Delicious. Wonderful.

But here's the thing - I deliberately did it with just about the minimal effort possible. I sloshed some water into the slow cooker, chucked in some red and green lentils, bashed a couple of garlic cloves and threw them in, skins and all. Okay, I did peel and chop an onion, and a piece of kumara (sweet potato), but the total amount of time I spent prepping was less than five minutes, and that includes tasting and adjusting the seasoning (salt, pepper, chilli flakes, veg stock powder). Then I just left the slow cooker to do its thing. Several hours on the low heat setting, and voilĂ  - perfect lentil soup.

I was out for dinner the other night with a journo friend, and mentioned slow cookers to him, but didn't get around to nipping his ear about how wonderful they are. I think I might direct him to this item once I've posted it.

* That new year's resolution is to try, as far as possible, to eat meat (or fish) only every second day, alternating with vegetarian fare. There are two reasons for this. One is that I think it is healthier on a fruit/veg consumption front, and on a weight management front. The other is that I am persuaded that meat reduction is very good for several environmental reasons. So, we'll be healthier, slimmer, and the planet will be a little less damaged. What's not to love about that?


Tickersoid said...

I recently bought the slow cooker pictured. Used it to make chicken and bacon soup with broccoli, carrots, swede, potatoes, onion and sweetcorn. The whole lot gets frozen for work where I dunk fresh bread in it.
Being single, I use mostly frozen veg so prep' time couldn't be quicker.

David said...

It takes a certain tinge of pinkness to transfer one's enthusiasms from fast bikes to slow cookers, but you have done it effortlessly darling!

Oddly enough, I have just been gifted a slow cooker so I may turn my hand, but perhaps I should reserve this for the rotisserie. :-)

Brian Sibley said...

You omitted to tell us all what you do with all the extra time you accumulate from using the slow cooker... ;-)

Qenny said...

tickers, david: they really are a joy, aren't they? After that initial spurt of enthusiasm, I haven't made much in it in the last week or two, but this very afternoon I've defrosted some soup from my last batch, and will be serving it up for supper this evening. It's lentil, so I'll open a window when we go to bed this evening.

brian: I divide all that extra time between practising magic (of course!) and trying out new restaurants for Monday nights :)