Before the Slow Food movement came the slow cooker, a household appliance that thrives on one primary cooking method: “simmer.”
You can allow courses to cook for hours, full days even, combining traits of patience and convenience in the kitchen.
In theory, you get out what you put in, but the simmering flavors can season an entire home with savory aromas. There is still prep-work (the appliance doesn’t take all the fun out of dicing and measuring), but there is a sense of tranquility that the methodical device takes on—not rushing to completion, but rather relishing in a truly flavorful finish.
Make sure to buy an energy-efficient slow cooker, which use nearly 50% less energy that standard cookers.
Most anything that can be cooked can be slow-cooked, so recipes for the method are countless. Here are a couple that are simple, with ingredients that can mostly all be found at a local farmers’ market:
Slow Cooker Spiced Applesauce
8 apples—peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
½ cup water
1 teaspoon of spice blend with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, allspice
¾ cup brown sugar
Combine sliced apples with water in a slow cooker. Cook on low for about 7 hours, or until saucy consistency. Stir in brown sugar and spices. Cook for another 30 minutes. Cool before serving.
Market Vegetable Soup
2 cups water or vegetable stock
4 cups of fresh vegetables (anything you can get locally and seasonally: corn, carrots, peas, beans, mushrooms, broccoli, etc.)
3 cups of chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
¼ cup uncooked rice or pasta shells
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, excluding rice or pasta. Cook on low for about 6 hours. Add rice or pasta half an hour before serving.
Feel free to share some of your own slow cooker recipes!