The weather is getting colder, the nights longer, the clocks are going back and that means only one horrifying fact to my family …. the slow cooker is going to be taken out and pressed into use again.
It’s not that they dislike tender meat stews, or vegetable stews, or spicy stews, or chicken stew, or beef stew, it’s just that there is only so much of stew one family can take before even the most delicious stew resembles gruel from a gulag.
The slow cooker had been the answer to all my working-mom problems. Prepare it the ingredients the night before (or mass prepare at the weekend), bang the stuff into the slow cooker in the morning while you are waiting for someone to get out of the bathroom and press start. Twelve hours later you will have a belly-warming … stew.
Every night for five months.
After which even the carnivore was happy to see summer salads arrive again.
This year (in what I feel was a deliberate act of sabotage) the kid, the dog and the husband accidentally threw a ball indoors and it knocked the slow cooker off its shelf causing the bowl to crack. Much to their wisely-well-hidden disappointment I managed to repair it, but being the benevolent dictator I am, I felt compelled to find an alternative solution least there be another uprising that cannot be repaired with ceramic paste.
So I have turned to my many, many cook books. Cook books which proclaim that recipes can be cooked in 30 minutes. Cook books which declare that they have nutritious family friendly recipes that all the family will enjoy. Cook books that claim they can teach anyone to cook. Well I’m going to put them to the working-mom test.
My requirements as a working-mom are
- Nutritious food that is tasty but not calorie laden.
- Can be cooked quietly when the baby is asleep or quickly when the baby is awake and ‘helping’.
- Preparation time should take no more than 20min, although cooking in the oven can take up to one hour, but no longer.
- Can ideally be cooked on Day 1, with leftovers for Day 2 (thus meaning every night is not a cooking night, but we get a well cooked meal every night).
- Is suitable for all the family:
- my husband who insists it’s not a proper meal without meat,
- me who insists that there are some healthy vegetables,
- my toddler son who has to be able to eat at least part of it with his hands,
- my grand-father who is suspicious of overly-spicy meat in case its gone off (apparently its something to do with a war, who knows),
- my parents who are open-minded but prefer the meals they recognise.
- my dad who is coeliac
Just to clarify, I don’t have the whole family around every night, but the new recipes I am about to learn I will use for the next forty/fifty years (possibly longer), so they have to be versatile enough for my increasingly crazy family (who I love!).
So with that in mind I am taking on my own Julie and Julia project as I work my way through my mountain of cook books and rate them on the working-mom scale.