Another word on crockpots after my last post. I received some feedback regarding that post, that you can in fact cook a roast in a crockpot without adding water or liquid to the crock. I had never heard of doing this, so I am more than happy to stand corrected on that point, and I might even give it a crack myself, as it would be a lower electricity way to cook a roast. Given that my last electricity bill turned my hair grey(er), it seems like a good option.
I have also been checking out some slow cooker websites. As mentioned in my last post, there are tons of recipes for slow cookers online, but there are also blogs and Facebook pages just devoted to slow cooking, including one called Get Crocked, which I am linking to entirely because I enjoy the name. What amazes me is all the slow cooker desserts. I honestly have never considered making a dessert in a slow cooker, although I do stew apples in mine frequently. I discovered a slow cooker version of a Mexican Flan, which is one of my favourite desserts of all time. I just may have to try this.
My crockie will never be the main tool I use to cook. Personally, I prefer the sizzle and crackle of a stove top and the warm aroma of the oven. However, I do appreciate the convenience of the crockie for days when I am busy, will be late home, am working on a major project, or it is hot outside and I want to minimise the heat levels in the kitchen. I appreciate its usefulness for making soup stocks and cooking dried beans and stewing fruit, and its general ‘workaday’ characteristics, which mean I will always replace mine if it breaks down. Fortunately, they seem to go on virtually forever, with minimal breakable parts – although my mother always seemed to have a crockie that lacked a knob and she was forever turning it on with the tines of a fork. Even when her brown 1970s crockie eventually died and she replaced it, she ended up with another sans knob – I think she was incapable of turning a crockpot on without a fork. Thank goodness it wasn’t a toaster…
Pork and Black Bean Tacos
1 cup sliced roast pork, roughly chopped – free*
1 can rinsed black beans – $1
1 sachet taco seasoning – free**
1 sachet taco sauce – free***
2 cups homemade stock (any kind) – free****
Combine all ingredients in the crock. Turn on low, and let it cook away until dinner time. Serve in burrito bowls or in tacos that you bought ridiculously cheap on a loss leader special from Woollies one day.
Total cost: $1
Per person (serves 4): 25 cents
*I cooked a pork roast in week 30. This was already paid for in that week. This pork was leftover (frozen) – restaurants and business call this ‘leveraging’ and is part of how professional chefs account for their food pricing. Hence it is a freebie. Cha-ching.
**Occasionally it is cheaper to buy a whole kit than a single pack of tacos or tortillas, when supermarkets are running a huge loss leader special. As such, I count these as ‘free’ even though I paid for them, because I didn’t pay any more for them than I would have for a standalone packet of tacos. Usually I don’t buy taco seasoning mixes as they are essentially a mix of the spices I already own plus some thickeners and salt, marked up at an outrageous price (about $1.40 for two teaspoons or so of seasoning). You can replace that with 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin, coriander, garlic powder or fresh garlic, and cayenne pepper, which is what I would have used if this wasn’t waiting around to be used up.
***See above – you could use half a cup of chopped canned or fresh tomatoes.
****And of course, homemade stock is the ultimate in leveraging – using something that would be thrown away to create food that is healthy and useful. That is why it is always free, and why I always have it in my freezer. Double cha-ching.