At this time of year I run around like a demented chicken. The list of jobs is endless, putting up fairy lights, keeping the house nice for guests and shop, shop, shopping. It can be so easy and rather too convenient to forget about saving energy for now. Anyway, surely, Christmas is a time of indulgence rather than restriction?
So, as I sit in the kitchen, contemplating the nature of my energy saving blog this month and the state of my pre Christmas food preparations, my eyes are delighted to rest on a familiar face. This year has bought many blessings, one of which was my new best friend.
For a small investment, a slow cooker can become your new best friend too, if you are willing to welcome it into your life and home, particularly through the festive season.
A slow cooker uses the same amount of energy as a light bulb, and, although obviously exact wattage varies from appliance to appliance, it will use a lot less energy than an electric oven, particularly one with a fan. So it starts work immediately, gratefully paying you back for your investment by saving you pounds.
However, this is not enough for your new best friend. A slow cooker is a small genius when it comes to transforming cheaper cuts of meat into magnificent family meals. The other night I turned out a delicious casserole, which I’m proud to say, everyone, from 7 to 45, really enjoyed. It melted in our mouths and yet the meat for our family of five only cost £3.60. I used ox cheeks bought in my local farm shop, combined them with onions, carrots, sweet potato, stock, and some red wine. The slow cooker worked its gentle magic all day, while I was writing, going to the nativity, and getting manic monsters home from school. We returned home to a beautiful aroma and a flavourful supper.
Today it is doing the curry. Much cheaper and healthier than a take-away and no-one has to go out into the cold windy night to get it.
The talents of your new best friend don’t end there. Just remember it, pay it some attention and the slow cooker will happily transform mountains of left-overs into soups, casseroles and sauces for the freezer.
After a feast, before you head for sofa or bed, spare a thought for your new best friend and don’t leave it lonely and bored. Stuff the sad remnants of your chicken or turkey carcase into your slow cooker. It will take just another couple of minutes to add some bay leaves, peppercorns, a roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery stick and cover with water. Leave it overnight on low and your slow cooker will be so happy that in the morning it will reward you with a wonderful stock. You can stick it in the freezer or use it for a risotto lunch. You get another meal out of leftovers and have you noticed how much those ready made stocks cost?
If you are stuck for activity ideas (recipes) for your new ally in the kitchen I find a ‘quick Google’ inspirational and there are loads of cook books just for slow cookers.
A slow cooker will listen as you rant but never answer back, will help you without moaning and never ask for anything in return.
But please, do remember a slow cooker is for life not just for Christmas.
So it just remains for me to say MERRY CHRISTMAS ONE AND ALL. I will write more on the other side – 2014 here we come.
Oh and don’t forget to turn your twinkly lights off when you go to bed at night – it will save you lots and be a little safer.
Image sourced from Matalan