Slow food

Kristina’s $5 slow cooker is mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal state­ment and work­ing it­self to the bone.

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Country Smile -

We often see a flock of goats hang­ing out at the sum­mit of the hill as we drive from our bay into the next. I know they are pests, but there are mo­ments when I look at them and see them for what they truly are: de­fi­ant, strong, noble crea­tures, strik­ingly beau­ti­ful in their multi-coloured hides, and ob­vi­ously right at home graz­ing the re­gen­er­at­ing bush around our bay and hill­sides.

But then I think of my slow cooker at home and mem­o­ries of savoury aro­mas bub­ble up to the sur­face of my con­scious­ness. Sud­denly the goats look even more beau­ti­ful, but in a de­li­ciously car­niv­o­rous kind of way.

It’s not only goats that get me think­ing about slow cook­ers. They also re­mind me of the story called Stone Soup where a hun­gry trav­eller ar­rives in a vil­lage with just a pot slung over his shoul­der. He sets him­self down in the mid­dle of the vil­lage square and makes a small fire, putting his pot on to boil. Its con­tents are one stone and a few litres of water. Soon the cu­ri­ous vil­lagers are com­ing out to see what he’s up to, and be­fore you know it, they are adding this and that to the soup to im­prove it be­cause they all know ‘you can’t make soup from a stone’.

One chap goes off to get a bone that the dog has fin­ished chew­ing and into the pot it goes. Now I’m not go­ing to sug­gest that for these recipes you go off and try to wres­tle with your dog, but if you’ve brought down a goat or a deer, you could def­i­nitely use chunks of meat on the bone from that beastie in your slow cooker. You will end up, like the cun­ning fel­low in the story, with a de­li­cious stew made us­ing just a bone and a few veges that could go a long way to mak­ing a tem­pes­tu­ous spring night bear­able when cows are calv­ing in the pour­ing rain and ewes are hid­ing away giv­ing birth to triplets in the top gully un­der the barbed wire fence in a pud­dle. Mum had a slow cooker when we were grow­ing up and I think it was prob­a­bly her favourite elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ance in the kitchen. In the win­ter and spring, it was al­ways full of soup or stew or corned beef. It made the house smell so good and made her day so much eas­ier. Mum was re­ally into us­ing up left­overs too (she called them 'res­ur­rec­tion' in­gre­di­ents) and these would get thrown into the pot rou­tinely with her 'com­post soup' (a pre-made stock cre­ated from clean vege scraps) and the re­sult would be an in­ex­pen­sive meal that could feed up to 15 peo­ple if nec­es­sary. I read one

funny com­ment about slow cooked food re­cently, that you shouldn't ex­pect it to look ‘pretty'. I had never re­ally thought about whether slow cooked food needs to be pretty or not be­cause usu­ally it smells so good and tastes so good that my eyes never get a look in.

An­other rea­son that I love slow cook­ing is that bones con­tain loads of ex­cel­lent nu­tri­ents that can only be ac­cessed by cook­ing them slowly. They've been used for cen­turies to make bone broth, her­alded as a cure-all for a range of mal­adies, from sore throats to pro­vid­ing vigour to a dy­ing re­la­tion­ship. They con­tain gly­cosamino­gly­cans, in­clud­ing glu­cosamine which is great for joint health, and ge­latin and glycine, both use­ful for detox­ing and heal­ing the gut.

I have been amazed at how our third son has taken to these bone stews. He METHOD Put all in­gre­di­ents into a slow cooker and turn onto high. Let it cook on high un­til mid-af­ter­noon or un­til the slow cooker is sim­mer­ing mer­rily, then turn it down and let it sit on a low tem­per­a­ture un­til din­ner time. Turn the joint of meat two or three times dur­ing cook­ing. Re­sist the temp­ta­tion to take the meat off the bone too early - only do that just be­fore you serve up so that the meat holds its mois­ture and shape. loves de­vour­ing all the gelati­nous bits off the bone. Bear in mind, this is a child who won't eat mush­rooms be­cause they are 'slimy'.

The slow food move­ment has been gath­er­ing mo­men­tum for the past few years now and I like to view it as a po­lit­i­cal state­ment, a sort-of un­der­ground rev­o­lu­tion that pokes its fin­ger at fast food. I get a great deal of sat­is­fac­tion from turn­ing my $5 garage sale slow cooker on in the morn­ing, know­ing that when I come back in at night there will be hot food ready. It's food that took me just 20 min­utes to pre­pare in the morn­ing, food that falls apart ever so del­i­cately and melts in my mouth due to the sub­tle com­bi­na­tion of acids and al­ka­lines from the wine, vine­gar, le­mon and toma­toes that I have added to per­me­ate and give flavour to the very fi­bre of the flesh. A METHOD Put the whole lot into your slow cooker and just cover with boil­ing water from the jug. Set the cook­ing tem­per­a­ture to high and let it crank up to sim­mer­ing point (usu­ally takes about 2-4 hours). Check liq­uid lev­els as the lentils and bar­ley will start to soak up it up. Add more if nec­es­sary. Keep it thick and stew-like but not stick­ing to the sides. Ex­cel­lent served pip­ing hot with a dol­lop of sour cream or thick Greek yo­ghurt. meal cooked in a slow cooker is also an en­tire meal in it­self if you add a whole swag of veges. It can be a soup or you can have it over rice or pota­toes. Have I sold you on it yet?

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