Slow cooking without a slow cooker.

Winter is here. Time to get out the slow cooker and cook up some warming stews and curries…  Oh, wait a minute, I don’t have a slow cooker. I have meant to get one,  but I don’t really have the space to store one.

If that sounds familiar than you will be happy that after about 30 seconds of research however,  I have discovered I don’t even need one. I have a large cast iron casserole dish, I can just use that (maybe I am a bit slow, but I never really thought of that before). After all a slow cooker is just a mini oven? So as I have learned I can just follow the same recipe and then set the oven on about 200°f or 250°f if the calls for the higher heat setting.

Of course the jury is still out when it comes to the additional cost of leaving my oven on for eight hours. I know it will cost almost three times as much if I had an electric oven but  I have a gas oven and can’t find any comparison… I am sure however, that unless you are going to be using slow cooker recipes every day, it is really going to be that noticeable, so until I can find space for a slow cooker to be stored when not in use I will just use the good old oven method.


2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Read this before you buy that egg poacher…

Hands up who has one of those silicon egg poaching cups. I have two of them and have only ever used them once. I also have an ice cream machine that a barely use, and although I don’t own one I have had passing thoughts of purchasing a slow cooker, a rice cooker and a multitude of other rubbish that I don’t need and would probably never use.

I do however, know many people who collect kitchen gadgets in the hope that by some miracle of science the gadget will magically transfer them into a better cook. I even know somebody who owns an egg separator even though I informed them that eggs come in their very own separator (the shells).

I guess all of us home cooks have, at one time or another, purchased a gadget that just looked too good to pass up, but do we really need them? Or are there any kitchen gadgetry that is actually useful?

John Walsh from the Independent has written a clever article on just that very subject (so that I can give my fingers a rest).


From the Independent

There’s nothing like moving house for making you take stock of your kitchen and the devices that therein lie. However much kitchen space seemed available when you first looked at your new home, there’s never enough room for all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. I mean, just look at it. Whatever possessed you to buy this bulky, expensive and frankly unusable garbage? Whose idea was the fish kettle that you used exactly once, for a salmon lunch in July 2010? Have you ever got cost-per-wear out of the microwave that’s been sitting accusingly beside the toaster since 1997? And here, in these cutlery drawers, on this knife rack, in this utensils jug – just look at all this mad gallimaufry of labour-saving stuff, of bits of rubber and metal and plastic that might possibly lift the heart of a passing rag-and-bone man but now fills you with bewilderment that you ever thought it worth having.

There are so many things you don’t need and never have needed. Things you bought one day in a burst of self-delusion that you are: A) a hippie earth mother or, B) an artisanal cook, living in an era before supermarkets. The bread-maker, the pasta-maker, the incredibly messy ice-cream maker, the yoghurt-maker, the rice cooker (what was wrong with using a saucepan and some hot water?) and that vital necessity of 1970s living, the coffee-bean grinder – because everybody needs to start their mildly hungover day with a noise like a granite-quarry drill slicing through their sore head, don’t they?

There are things you bought to make cooking easier and discovered it made it far more complicated. At the top of this list is the food processor you bought to peel, chop and slice vegetables, to puree them into nourishing meals for the baby, to make soups and sauces and sophisticated reductions for dinner parties. But the fag of having to wash and dry and store all the attachments became so daunting, you reverted to buying the baby food in jars, the soup from Waitrose and the sauces from Marks & Sparks.

Labour-saving devices that promise to chop and slice electronically just add to your work-load because of the tedium of setting them up. I had high hopes of a heavy-duty juicer, but it was just too high-maintenance and we’re now estranged. I feel embarrassed about the way I’ve neglected the electronic weighing scales, ever since I lost the instructions: you can press the ‘Mode’ and ‘Reset’ keys till you’re blue in the face without ever getting the machine to actually weigh something. And don’t get me started on the sub-Gaggia cappuccino machine, to operate it required a PhD in material sciences and  another in Italian psychology.

There are things whose beauty or bulk once recommended them to you but now only get in the way. Among them is a super-enormous, wooden chopping-board: it’s just too damn heavy. Few dinner ingredients need such comprehensive chopping that it justifies manhandling half a ton of teak onto the work surface. The stainless-steel stockpot never saw much action – I mean, who am I, Mrs Patmore from Downton Abbey, keeping the week’s potato peelings and carrot tops in order to make a nourishing stew? I wish I’d got more use out of the four-ton Le Creuset casserole, which resembles the cauldron in which cartoon savages might boil a missionary in the jungle.

And as you unpack another dozen cardboard boxes, you can only marvel at the hundred-odd fiddly devices and rusting geegaws you once deemed necessary for the cook’s existence. I have two meat thermometers – never used – two pizza cutters, ditto; a box grater, terminally clogged-up with fragments of Yarg circa 2009; an olive stoner, never used; three devices for keeping champagne perky after you’ve opened it; and a pack of yellowing cartouches clearly past their sell-by.

A deadly ennui envelops you. Are you going to keep all this stuff for another few years? Or are you going to start all over again?

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December; my favourite month of the year!

We’ve made it folks! The last and best month of the year is here.

I love December, it is filled with all that is good in life, the laughter of children, the closeness of family, the hope of a new and better year, and all that delicious food!

Now, I know there are some of you who are saying bah humbug to December and all it’s twinkly light goodness. There are some who feel that the stress of the holiday season isn’t worth it for the payoff at the end. I feel though that if you plan a little and shop online you can eliminate most of the stress of the season, leaving you more time to enjoy the good things this time of the year has to offer.

So my advice for you all is get planning, pop over to Amazon and get as much done now as you can and make this December the enjoyable end to the year that we all deserve.


Goodbye October, hello November

October was another fantastic month, and the busiest month on the blog so far in terms of visitors and visitors per day, so let me begin by thanking you all for dropping by. Hopefully November can be an even better month for me and you. I have plenty of plans in the works, including some baking for a very worthy cause.

Domesticated Mum does some work for a charity for children born with under-developed or no eyes called MACS. Being a very caring type of gal, she has decided to host a coffee morning on November 3rd at our church to raise some funds for this very worthy cause. So of course asides from Domesticated Mum’s world famous cupcakes, I will be firing up the oven and creating a Coffee Cake and some Chocolate Orange Cupcakes with white chocolate buttercream (recipes to follow).

A couple of days later it will be Bonfire Night here in the UK, which means sitting outside in the damp, cold English Autumnal air. This means I will have to think of something warming and delicious to keep my family from catching the cold while watching the fireworks.

The highlight of my month of course is that I have two weeks off of work which will give me plenty of time to test some Christmas recipes while I make the family a mock Thanksgiving dinner (I say mock because I am Canadian, and I live in the United Kingdom).

So again it will be a busy month here in the Domesticated house and on the blog. I hope you all have just as happy a month and a busy and delicous time in your lives!