Fast living, slow cooking

I have bought a slow cooker after talking to my friend about the difficulties of cooking when tired.  I like many people, work full time in a busy and demanding job. When I come home from work, as much as I love cooking, I am not that interested standing up in the kitchen and cooking for hours because I am exhausted from my hour plus commute.  This is of course nothing new in my working life.  I have been living like this for years. Some evenings – dinner is a sandwich, a quick pasta dish or scrambled eggs.  Not that these aren’t nice meals but they do get tiresome at times.  It would be nice to relax and eat a hot meal that is just there when I come home.  However this year, 2019, needs to be a year of positive change for me.  I have started slowly but I am not there yet.  When I was talking to my friend about my post work culinary habits she mentioned that she had a slow cooker which she bought when her first child was in nursery.  She has found it very helpful.  She puts the ingredients in the pot in the morning, plugs it in and by the afternoon the meal is ready.  Sounds like heaven for me.   While I am also interested in cooking batches of food that will last for a few weeks, I also think it will be nice to come home to food that is fresh and hot. 

I also want to see how far I can use it to make more vegetarian dishes and Nigerian dishes.  I have more or less stopped cooking Nigerian foods in the past year or so.  I have made it a thing that ‘takes too much time’ but I know that is an excuse because I used to cook Nigerian food all the time when I lived with my parents.  Then it was just the norm and no ‘extra effort’.  I am pretty certain that I will be able to find a slow cooker recipe for jollof rice. It is likely, that that is not what slow cookers were invented for, but I am hoping I can adapt it to my needs.  I have always found it difficult to ensure that the rice is cooked to the right texture, I’m hoping this might help!  The other thing I want to explore is making more lentil curries  (again sometimes I just cannot get the lentils to cook) I eat more lentils these days and I curious for different ways of cooking them. 

I guess I’m missing the elephant in the room because I have not talked about the wealth of meat dishes that I can now cook.  Well the truth of the matter is that I have significantly reduced my meat intake this year.  It started in March – which I labelled ‘meat-free March’ and it just seemed to have continued.  I just decided that perhaps I just did not need to eat something that came from a living breathing animal. I watched a documentary (yes I am one of those people!) about the humane management of farm animals and while it gave me confidence that some people cared, I knew that much of what is on the shelves is mass produced from animals that live in variable conditions. I felt that I did not want to consume that kind of meat.  I wondered if I needed to eat meat at all.  I know that the answer is controversial and I know that a small about of meat will not harm me. So I opted for one month to not eat any meat and increase the amount of vegetables in my diet.  I would still eat fish, why I have drawn that arbitrary line, I am not sure.  I managed to get through March without meat and I was ‘fine’. This is when I started eating more  lentils and chickpeas. I really did not miss meat. I have only recently eaten meat again at my birthday dinner (we had tapas and Nacho ordered spicy chicken wings) and my sister’s birthday barbecue (I did not even try to resist the burgers and the sausages) but they were considered decisions.  However, for reasons that I am not yet sure, but perhaps being ill this week, I feel that I want to eat chicken again! Again, rather arbitrary choice but I just do not feel like eating lamb, beef or pork.  I am in danger of not sounding rational but these are my current choices! So the other exciting thing that I want to do with my slow cooker is cook chicken – whole, stewed and casseroled. 

It remains to be seen how far I get with all of this. So far I have made a lentil and fish concoction. I spent an hour chopping up a bag of carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic and ginger. I added vegetable stock, salt, pepper, paprika, cloves, bay leaves, yellow lentils, basa fillets (controversial I know and I will need to educate myself on white fish) and rice. I let the whole thing cook for 6 hours while I lolled around the sofa reading ‘Why I am no longer talking to white people about race’ (random, I know, but not so random).

So the finished product was mushy (the rice and lentil combination) but very tasty.  I think next time I make this, it will not include rice. However, in general this felt like a good start. I might start recipe hunting and planning. Wish me luck! 

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