Here we are in January. It’s cold. We over-indulged at the holidays, eating too many decadent treats and now we need to clean up our eating. (I hope no one minds that I’ve adopted the royal “we” for this post.) The trouble is; we are busy. We have many crucially important affairs to attend to. We need a strategy that is simple and not too time-consuming or we won’t do it. We will eat cake. We previously established that it is cold out and a colorful salad chock full of fresh veggies is also cold and leaves us feeling bleak.
Enter the slow cooker. The answer to our sad and pudgy state. We can plop a bunch of beautiful fresh veggies and whole grains/legumes into it on Sunday and have a week’s worth of nutritious hot lunches designed to redeem our poor eating choices throughout the holidays. The truly amazing thing about the slow cooker is that you can make a delicious soup out of whatever mélange of stuff you have in your fridge and cupboards.
I must abandon my affectation, I love to cook! I love to try new recipes and I like to improvise. My favorite impromptu is to take a blend of chopped aromatics, onion, celery, carrots and radishes and lightly sauté them in olive oil (or pop’em in the microwave) for five minutes to release the favor and add some bullion and water or stock, or a bit of both and whatever else I’ve got in the kitchen. I like French lentils or white beans. I love canned fire roasted tomatoes in soups. My secret weapon is hickory salt. Throw it all in the pot before work in the morning and come home to a delicious dinner. I usually toss a chunk of baguette in the oven because neither my 5 year-old or my partner can eat a meal without bread. I add a small tossed green salad: spinach leaves, dried cranberries, gorgonzola and pecans is my go to. The meal assembles easily within 20 minutes of my getting in the door and donning my apron and slippers. Voila!
On Sundays when I have more time, I have been exploring “The Complete Slow Cooker” book of recipes. So far, we have enjoyed the ridiculously easy “Chicken Mole”, the bright and blissful “Garden Minestrone” and the divine “Huli Huli” chicken. I am excited to try the slow-cooker “Paella.” I adore paella and have never made it, simply because I do not own a paella pan. Obstacle removed.
I confess that I have a very basic Crock Pot. I purchased it on a whim to make bone broth when it was on sale for $16.99 at a box store. It has an oval ceramic basin and a dial reading: “low,” “high,” “warm” and “off.” It has served me well. Should I decide to upgrade, the “America’s Test Kitchen the Complete Slow Cooker” has reviewed and rated dozens of models and breaks down the results and prices, so I am primed for my upgrade.
Should you decide to join me in the world of Slow Cookery, SLPL has you covered. I am excited to check out “Six Ingredients or Less” by Carleen Johnson and “Cooking Light Slow Cooker” among other great slow cooker cookbooks.
This week’s guest chef is Aarya, Volunteer& Special Events Coordinator for SLPL. She enjoys an active lifestyle with emphasis on nutrient-dense, whole foods, while indulging in the occasional well-crafted cocktail or decadent dessert.