You don’t have to be a cook to prepare a delicious full-course meal.
For someone living alone, a crockpot can be useful. I love mine. The removable, washable pot fits inside a metal container that has an electric heating element. All you do is prepare, load up and turn it on! Cooking with a crockpot is simple. You select a recipe, assemble the ingredients, and place them in the pot. Then turn on the heat to low, medium, or high, depending on how long you intend the cooking to take.
The crockpot is aptly named slow cooker. It is not for whipping up a quick dinner. It requires planning and plenty of time; usually 6 to 8 hours of unattended cooking. For example, you can load up the crockpot after breakfast and expect a fully cooked dinner in the evening. Some dishes are best when stirred along the way, others cook on their own. I use my crockpot for just a few favorites.
Because I live in a community that offers three meals a day, my cooking efforts could be quirky–serving tastes unique to me. There are hundreds of crockpot recipes to choose from. I will tell you about two of my favorites.
I like applesauce, but not the uniform-smooth processed sauce that seems to come out of the same spigot. So, I learned to make my own. It’s easy and fun. Here is the recipe:
Start with 8 to 10 medium-sized apples. You can mix varieties or use all the same. Softer apples are said to cook down better, and some apples can be used with skin on to make the sauce a little tart. I usually buy whatever looks good in the produce section.
Peel the apples, but don’t worry if you miss a little of the skin. Remove the core and seeds and cut the apples in one-inch chunks. Place the apples in the slow cooker. Add a tablespoon of cinnamon (optional) and a teaspoon of sugar. Turn on the cooker to low heat. In about three hours, you can stir. After 6 to 8 hours, the apples will be cooked down, producing a bit more than a quart of textured (some would say slightly lumpy) applesauce that tops anything you will find on the store shelf. This will keep in the refrigerator for ten days.
For a full meal, I like to make a slow-cooked pot roast dinner. The ingredients can be prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator, or in the morning to use right away.
The ingredients are a 3-pound chuck roast, 1 tablespoon of canola oil, a half-pound of carrots cut in 2-inch chunks, 1 pound of potatoes cut in 2-inch chunks, 4 medium yellow onions cut in quarters, 1 cup of beef broth, 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of water, and salt and pepper to taste. You can start by browning the meat in a frying pan with the canola oil, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. (This is advised by some, but I don’t do it. The proportions can be adjusted to suit you.) Place all ingredients except the meat in the crockpot, then put the meat on top. Secure the lid and set the heat on low. In 8 hours, you will have an amazing dinner.
These dishes, two of my favorites, are from simple to slightly more complicated, but could be done by anyone who can use a knife and a fork. The only cooking lesson I learned from my wife is “if you can read, you can learn to cook.”
By Savvy Senior
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