Use your Crock Pot/Slow Cooker
In my younger days this meant putting food in the oven and setting it to start it cooking at a certain time. As long as I arrived home when I had expected to it was fine, but if I was late the dinner was often ruined!
Nowadays, we have a much better solution. A small crock pot which, in my mind, is an essential piece of kitchen equipment.
You can fill it with your prepared ingredients in the morning, turn it on, and it will slowly cook your meal while you are out of the house.
If you are a little late home it won't spoil. Oh, and the smell of a ready cooked meal hitting you as you open the front door is wonderful!
So what sorts of things can you cook in your crockpot? You might be surprised!
There are, of course, stews and casseroles, hot-pots, pot roasts and soups. You can also cook desserts such as rice pudding in your slow cooker (another name for the same pot).
If the idea of a crock pot appeals to you, I will be creating a whole section on this site of recipes you can cook in one. If you can't wait, you won't do much better than buying yourself a copy of Fix-It And Forget-It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes.
One rule of thumb when using recipes that were not specifically designed for cooking in this manner is to add more liquid than the recipe states. About half a pint is normally adequate. That liquid can be plain water, stock, red wine, tinned soup or milk, depending on the dish you are cooking.
If you feel that once cooked the "gravy" or sauce is too thin you can thicken it up by using one of the following options...
- Gravy powder - which will thicken, but also flavor the liquid which may not be what you require
- Cornflour (cornstarch) - here you need to mix a spoonful of cornflour with cold water before adding to the hot liquid, otherwise you can end up with a lumpy mess
- Arrowroot - a flavorless thickener which again needs mixing with cold water before being added to the dish