Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Your Mother's Slow Cooker

Visiting my daughter Evelyn, I noticed this cookbook on her shelf.
In the course of my visit to Fairfax last week, Evelyn and I each cooked something in the slow cooker. I made Texas chili with my granddaughter Alice. You can see the video, including the slow cooker, here: A Bowl of Texas Red in Virginia. Evelyn made a delicious lamb stew with white beans and lots of vegetables. This slow-cooker thing transcends generations! Next we'll need Not your Grandmother's Slow Cooker.

In looking over Not your mother's ...  I was intrigued by this recipe:

I love to make plum chutney in the fall when I get good Italian plums, but I've never tried using the slow cooker. I think I might try this chutney recipe some day. But if I find any Santa Rosa plums I'll eat them right up: they are rare and too delicious to use in cooking! Anyway -- my usual recipe for plum chutney and other chutneys is here: Chutney Recipes.

Another slow-cooker book from Evelyn's shelves.
This IS Evelyn's mother's slow-cooker book: that is, mine.
The image of a tiny cooker on the cover reveals how
the size of slow cookers has grown over the years!
My slow-cooker book is dated 1975, which is approximately when I got my first slow cooker. After I had followed some of the recipes in this book, my slow-cooker technique took off. I figured out how to adapt favorite stews and soups to be slow-cooked. Eventually I realized that this "invention" actually duplicated the obsolete conditions of cooking on the back of an old wood or coal stove before modern ovens and ranges were perfected. Therefore, I tried to do old-fashioned recipes that had evolved for that type of situation.

One of my favorites is "ABC" stew: a slow-cooked dish containing Apricots, Beef, and Carrots (see below). Another favorite is lamb shanks, which must be cooked slowly or they'll be too tough to eat. And after Thanksgiving dinner, we put all the turkey bones in the slow cooker with some vegetables and water and make our stock for turkey soup.

Making bones into stock, a perfect slow-cooker task, also conforms to a trend mentioned in Tuesday's New York Times: avoiding waste whenever possible, and reducing the large quantities of food that end up in the garbage. “If we leave the recipe behind and get back to technique cooking,” said one expert on the subject, “kitchen waste will go away.” See Starve a Landfill.

Thinking about these cookbooks I realize that there's a lot more that I could do with the slow cooker!


This classic recipe, which I adapted for slow cooking, comes from South America but has middle-eastern influences. As a result, if you enormously reduce the meat and increase the fruit and veggies, you have something very much like the Passover traditional dish, Tsimmis.

In a frying pan, in small batches, sauté the following and scrape into your slow cooker:
3 LB lean beef, pref. chuck or top round sliced yourself into 1 x 1 x 2 inch cubes
1 medium-sized chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 medium-sized carrot (or more), sliced

Add to the pot:
1 package (11 oz.) mixed dried fruit, large pieces cut up, or equivalent amount of dried apricots
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water

Slow cook on low for a day (7:30 a.m. until dinner). Or on high for half a day. Or overnight, to be refrigerated and then reheated at dinner time. For storing/reheating, place stew in baking dish and heat in oven -- slow cooker will not work for reheating or storing food. You can thicken the sauce with flour blended into 1 tablespoon of butter if the sauce seems thin, or pour the sauce into a small pot and boil it down. Or just enjoy it as it is. ABC stew may be served with rice.

Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations has reinstated Cookbook Wednesday. Today is Wednesday, and I had something to say about these cookbooks anyway, so I made this new cookbook post.


Debra Eliotseats said...

Love that retro look of the 70s cookbook! I think I have an apple butter recipe for the slow cooker somewhere....

~~louise~~ said...

Slow Cooker cookbooks have definitely changed through the years, Mae. This is a perfect example. Actually, when you think about it, in the 70s, we didn't even call them slow cookers, well I didn't anyway, it wa my crock and my best friend:)
I really need to use mine more. So funny you mention making a stock with it. I made a roast chicken for dinner last night and just now I shut off the stock I've been cooking for the last hours from the bones. I could have htown them all in the crock over night, lol...

Thanks for sharing these books Mae and for being prepared for Cookbook Wednesday!!!

Esme said...

I want to start using my crock pot way more.