Slow Cookers Make Home Cooking Easy

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Category : Book and Movie Reviews, Whatcom Locavore Basics

Best of Bridge Slow Cooker CookbookEating as a locavore (a person who eats only locally grown food as much as possible) means you’ll be preparing meals at home most of the time. It also means those meals will be prepared mostly from scratch (i.e., no processed foods). Most people, I think, agree that eating at home would be better for their health, but some balk at the amount of time they think they’ll have to spend in the kitchen.Now, I could make a pretty good science-based argument that a lifestyle so hectic you don’t have time to ensure you eat well has other inherent health risks (stress effects on hormones, for example). However, it’s even easier to demonstrate that spending a lot of time in the kitchen in order to prepare healthy meals is totally unnecessary. For example, I’ve written before about how flavorful local food is compared to non-local, fast food, or processed food alternatives. Because it’s so flavorful, you don’t need to use fancy techniques or complex combinations of ingredients to make the food appealing. Give farm fresh vegetables a quick steam and your family will swoon about what a good cook you are. Lightly saute some greens in hazelnut oil with a minced garlic clove, and you’ll have a dish you could be proud to serve to guests. Quickly grill or pan fry some grassfed beef steaks sprinkled with salt and pepper and your main dish is done.People who love to cook may enjoy combining herbs and other flavors, as I do, but trust me on this: it’s not necessary! Locally grown food only requires very simple preparation to taste spectacular. If you spend more than 20-30 minutes fixing a meal, it’s because you chose to do so.Even if you like more complexity, there are still time saving options available. For example, my slow cooker (crockpot) is my best friend when it comes to saving time in the kitchen. I can throw in a few ingredients in the morning and have a delicious hot meal ready for dinner with no further attention.I recently found out about a new cookbook coming out in October called Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook. If you want to learn how to use a crockpot well, I’d recommend ordering this book.

“Best of Bridge” cookbooks are a popular series in Canada. It was started by eight women who had been getting together to play bridge for over a decade. They realized that a lot of the enjoyment they experienced was related to the food they shared around their card games, and they decided to create a cookbook of their favorite recipes. A business was born, and they’ve been publishing cookbooks ever since.

From the outset, “The Ladies of the Best of Bridge,” as they like to be known, had an unconventional vision of how their business would be run. It would be a partnership of equals, a celebration of friendship, and–perhaps most of all–it would be fun. The bank manager who approved their first loan warned them they would never stay friends. They vowed to prove him wrong. Now, more than 30 years and 3.2 million book copies later, they are enjoying the last laugh.

This latest book in their series begins with tips on selecting a slow cooker with features just right for you. They go on to talk about tips for preparing ingredients, how slow cooking is optimal for tougher cuts of meat, how best to use herbs and spices, and how to prep ingredients the night before so your time in the morning will be minimal.

200 recipes with clearly written instructions are provided, including everything from breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes to snacks, soups, breads, and desserts. Recipes range from extremely simple to more challenging dishes for special occasions.

If you’ve never used a crockpot before, the book starts at the very beginning. Even if you’re experienced with slow cooking, though, I think you might find some new techniques to try. For example, I don’t make custards very often because trying to load a tippy pan of custard dishes surrounded by water into a hot oven is just not something I look forward to doing. It’s a tricky balancing act. This book suggests cooking custard in a crockpot instead. I can still use the same single serving custard dishes, but I can set them into water in the bottom of the crockpot. Brilliant solution!

While some of the ingredients are definitely not found locally, many are, and others would be very easy to adapt. Below is a link to a local adaptation I made of their Beef Goulash recipe. Spicy and scrumptious!

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