Community Chef Samantha Wells shares some warming winter cooking tips and recipes using two under-valued appliances – a microwave and a slow cooker.
Gentle warming food is the order of the day for mid-January mealtimes – be inspired and save money (and time) with two very useful but sometimes overlooked kitchen gadgets.
Slow cookers may not be the most glamorous of kitchen gadgets out there but this cumbersome beast is worth dusting off and getting friendly with.
With the current energy situation, slow cookers are a great friend to have in the kitchen. They use much less energy per hour than an electric and this is a secret ally. It is also great to have gently cooking when you are at work. Comforting stew or coconut dahl perhaps? A quick hustle in the morning and on arrival home you will be greeted with wafting smells and perfectly cooked food.
Slow cooking tips
- If you are buying a new slow cooker and can afford to splash out a little, try to find one that has a frying or sauté section. This saves frying or browning off ingredients separately (and means less washing up!)
- Despite the off-putting title ‘dump bags’ are a genius way to batch cook, save time and reduce food waste all in one go. If you can carve some time out to prep one meal, why not prep for two (or more) to save time. You can put the ingredients into a freezer safe bag and freeze them until you are ready to cook. Then simply defrost overnight and ‘dump’ into the slow cooker. Any last minute ingredients (usually liquids) can be added when cooking to complete the meal. From soups and stews, risottos to cakes, most recipes can be adapted to this method.
- When adapting a regular recipe to a slow cooker be mindful of liquids. You need to reduce the amount of liquid stated by at least 100ml. If a recipe states a one hour cook go for four hours on HIGH or six on LOW.
Microwaves are another fantastic resource – from simply reheating small batches of leftover food to speeding up the cooking process they are another great choice for energy efficient cooking and baking. The internet is now awash with fantastic recipes and ideas for microwave cookery – here are two of my favourites.
Cake-in-a-mug for one
¼ cup plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp baking powder
5 tbsp milk
5 tsp melted coconut oil
Small handful of chocolate chips
Add everything other than the choc chips into a greased microwave safe coffee mug. Whisk with a fork. Add in the choc chips and heat in a microwave on high for 60 seconds. It may need longer depending on the thickness of your mug, cook for further increments of 10 seconds until risen!
1 unpeeled turnip
Clean your turnip and pierce it a couple of times. Microwave on a plate on high for 12 minutes. Heat for further 2 minute periods until soft. Simply scoop to serve.
Samantha Wells, Community Chef