Say hello to the latest addition to my household…
yes, it’s yet another gadget for my ever growing collection of kitchen appliances!
I wasn’t intending to buy a slow cooker, but I was recently sent a copy of newly published Vegan Slow Cooking For Two – Or – Just For You by Kathy Hester (best selling author of The Vegan Slow Cooker and the Healthy Slow Cooking blog). I did warn the publishers that I didn’t own a slow cooker, but they sent me a copy anyway. Maybe they knew what would happen 😉
Before reading Kathy’s book, I always thought slow cookers were for cooking stews and casseroles. However, Kathy has totally blown my preconceived ideas out the water. She seems to cook everything in her slow cookers – porridge, fondues, dips, tapenades, pasta, baked potatoes. She even has a recipe for a full Thanksgiving dinner that’s cooked in just one slow cooker pot!
Kathy’s latest book is specifically designed for single and couple households, and includes over 100 recipes for the smaller 1.5 litre slow cookers. The majority of the recipes take 7-9 hours, so you can quickly prep the ingredients in the morning, then come back from work to find your dinner ready and waiting for you. The breakfasts also take 7-9 hours, so you can switch the slow cooker on before bed, then wake up to a warm bowl of ready-made porridge.
Kathy’s recipes are simple to follow and she provides soy-free, gluten-free and oil-free options for each meal. Most of the ingredients she uses are easy to purchase in the UK. There are a few recipes that call for ingredients such as vital wheat gluten flour or liquid smoke, but these are available from online stores, including Amazon.
After reading Kathy’s book, I couldn’t resist ordering a slow cooker so that I could try out her recipes for myself. The idea of slow cooking on days when we have after-school activities especially appeals to me. When we get back home, rather than having to start cooking (and invariably eating late into the evening), dinner will be ready and waiting for us. We won’t even need to warm it up!
On my study class night, I’m usually rushing around at the last moment, trying to get dinner cooked for the boys and grabbing a quick bite for myself before running out the door, but not this week! I spent 10 minutes in the morning prepping the ingredients for a curry based on Kathy’s Navratan Korma recipe and threw the ingredients in the slow cooker. Dinner was sorted! It was delicious too!
Last Friday, I made another of Kathy’s recipes and, this time, I chose something from the ‘Sweet Treats’ section… Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce. As soon as I read the ingredient list I knew that I was going to love this sauce. It includes some of my all-time favourite spices – cinnamon and cardamom – and with the addition of pureed pumpkin, it has got to be the perfect sauce for this season.
Kathy recommends that the sauce be cooked on low for 7-9 hours but I just couldn’t wait that long to try it, so I cooked it on medium/high for 3 hours instead.
And the verdict? This sauce is scrumptious! After testing it, Lil’ L declared it to be “very Autumny!”
In the mornings, we’ve been stirring a couple of tablespoons of the sauce into our porridge/oatmeal. It’s warming, sweet and, for me, it’s the most perfect porridge flavouring for this season.
We’ve also been enjoying the sauce in our apple & yoghurt compotes for dessert.
The recipe quantity yields 3 cups of sauce. Kathy tells me that the sauce will keep about a week in the fridge, so I’ve frozen half of it in ice cube trays. That way we can be enjoying the sauce for the next couple of months (and it will stop me from devouring the whole lot in one go 😉 )
Here’s Kathy’s recipe, reproduced with permission from Fair Winds Press:
Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce (Soy-free / Gluten-free / Oil-free)
Kathy says:”This rich, gooey sauce embodies fall. It’s lightly spiced and perfect in a cup of coffee. But don’t limit yourself – try it on vegan ice cream, dip cookies into it, or stir a bit into your morning oatmeal.”
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 7 to 9 hours
Yield: 3 cups (700 ml)
1 can (13.5 oz / 400ml) full-fat coconut milk
1 cup (225 g) packed brown sugar (I used coconut sugar)
1 cup (245g) pumpkin puree
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom*
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice (I used mixed spice instead)
pinch cloves (omitted, as I used mixed spice)
*Ground cardamom isn’t readily available in UK supermarkets. I’ve heard that freshly ground cardamom is the best anyhow, so I grind my own. I simply remove the cardamom seeds from the pods, lightly toast them for 2-3 minutes until they are fragrant, then pulse them in a grinder into a fine powder. 1 tablespoon of cardamom pods makes about 1.5 teaspoons of ground spice. I store the spice in a glass jar in the fridge.
Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours. Store in the fridge and use a few teaspoons (15-20 ml) in your hot or iced coffee.
Per 2-tablespoon (28ml) serving: 42.9 calories; 0.5g total fat; 0.4g saturated fat; 0.2g protein; 13.1g carbohydrate; 0.4g dietary fiber; 0mg cholesterol
Products I used
– Chaokoh Coconut Milk, from the World Food aisle at Tesco. I like this brand as it doesn’t contain any strange preservatives, thickeners or E numbers.
– Coconut sugar, available from online stores, including Elements for Life and Amazon
– Libby’s 100% Pumpkin Purée, purchased from Waitrose
Are you already a fan of slow cooking? Or, like me, are you a newbie that’s intrigued to try it out? Either way, Kathy’s latest book is bound to give you lots of inspiration. Would you like to check it out for yourself? If so, I’m very pleased to tell you that the publishers have kindly offered me a second copy to give away 🙂
The main way to enter the giveaway is to leave me a comment below, answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so!
If you’re new to Rafflecopter, it’s pretty easy! You simply ‘log in’ by clicking the ‘Use Your Email’ button and entering a name and email address (which won’t be published anywhere) or you can log in via the Facebook button. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed via this link.
There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.
The giveaway is open to residents (aged 18 and over) living in the UK, USA & Canada
The closing date is Thursday, 31st October 2013 at midnight GMT.
Good luck everyone!
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