Our third slow cooking class with seniors showcased just how flexible crock-pot meals can be. To assemble affordable meals, families living on a limited budget often use just what’s in their pantry rather than buy special ingredients required by recipes.
Slow cooking makes this easy since you only need to have a liquid sauce, protein, vegetables, and some kind of flavor enhancer in your pantry. Then simply throw these four ingredients into a crockpot, set the temperature and time, then come back later to a meal ready to eat. the classes share ways to improve the texture and taste of slow cooked meals but we’ll share those in later posts.
For class, I had planned to do a spicy lentil stew then changed at the last minute because the food bank had lots of yellow split peas to give away. So as usual I improvised and here is how I put this crockpot meal together.
- For protein and fat, I chose 1/2 of a Hempler’s lean frankfurter
- For the vegetables I used One small chopped yellow onion, one clove of chopped garlic, two sliced carrots, one chopped celery stalk, and one can of stewed tomatoes.
- For protein, fiber, and vegetables I Included one can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed, and one cup of dry yellow split peas.
- For the liquid I chose 1 cup water with 1 teaspoon of better than bouillon- vegetable flavor and 8 ounces of tomato sauce.
- As a flavor enhancer I added 1 tablespoon of my special Herb bouquet which is a mixture of basil, rosemary, thyme and garlic powder. For hotness I added 1 t red chili pepper.
The first step was to sauté the onions and garlic for about five minutes and then add it to the crockpot along with the other ingredients.
Next step was to turn the crockpot on high for one hour then transferred to low for about four hours.
After about 4 hours, I added the chopped frankfurters and more Herb bouquet as needed for the flavor I was looking for.
And finally, I added a pinch more chili powder to increase the hotness.
NOTE: There was no recipe for this meal. This merely demonstrates how easy it is to make a crockpot meal using whatever you have in your pantry.
Tomorrow I will share ideas on what to use for protein vegetables liquids and flavor enhancers. In the final post of this series I’ll discuss different spice mixes to use with slow cooked meals. Until then feel free to experiment with different ingredients. Have fun with this.
12 04 2014 by Don R