Being a parent is a busy old job. As a single working mum it’s hard to find the time to fit everything in. Trouble is some things can’t be put off till tomorrow. We have to eat. I am also a firm believer that we have to eat well. Now I will hold my hands up and admit that I am medically obese. I take full responsibility for it. When I left home I was over weight in medical terms but I was a slim size 16. Years of eating what I want, no exercise and 2 children later….well that’s why I want my kids to eat right! It would be so easy to roll in from work after picking up the kids and shoving a pizza in the oven. There’s loads of ready meals out there to chose from too. It’s not the best but it’s easy isn’t it?
Before falling into that trap, I decided I needed a something in the kitchen that cooks for me and when I come home it sets the table and dishes up. I can’t afford my own chef so I got the next best thing – a slow cooker!
When I was a kid I remember my mum using a slow cooker on the odd occasion. It was always stew when the slow cooker went on. So when I bought my slow cooker a year ago, I decided I would cook other things in it too. I have 3 slow cooker recipe books and have made some fantastic food in it, including Cidered Pork for Valentines Day.
Now that Autumn is here and winter is fast approaching, my slow cooker is hardly ever off, this week it’s cooked us chicken and mushroom in gravy, beef stew and lamb in mint. It’s so easy to use, when I make the days packed lunches each morning, I also fill the pot with my ingredients of the day and add enough stock to cover. Then it gets switched on and left for the day. I’m saving money too, because it cooks so slow that I can get away with the cheaper cuts of meat and it is still tender by the time it is cooked! I’ve used it for chilli and bolognaise sauce in the past too and that’s just recipes I have made up myself!
The other good thing is my kids are getting the good stuff. You have to cook everything in a stock, and as such, the goodness from whatever vegetables in there goes into the gravy. H is pretty fussy and will only eat mushrooms, but the amount of “special gravy” she has on her bread at the end, I know she is getting lots of vitamins and goodness too. There really is no excuse for me now, and as a treat for being so good all week, Fridays are rubbish night – either a chippy or a pizza, whatever we fancy because everything is ok in proportion!!
I’d love to know what you cook in your slow cooker, new recipes are always welcome!!
Yesterday, as we all know,was Shrove Tuesday, more commonly these days known as Pancake Day. Last year was my 1st ever attempt at making pancakes as my ex was always the one to make them before. Last year proved why! I didn’t have a clue so rang my mum for a rough guide on making the batter. I was told I needed plain flour, and used self raising as that was all I had. Every single one stuck and I felt such a failure after. But on the plus I had other stuff in the fridge and I think we ended up with omlette instead!
This year I tried things differently. I bought one of these “Just add milk and shake” pancake mix in a bottle things. I brought a new frying pan specially because I’d thrown my old one out a few months ago and hadn’t replaced it yet. I followed all the instructions and guess what……….they stuck like mad again! I was so angry, especially as H now eats what we eat and the 1st one I managed to save so it went on her plate. Now all credit to these easy pancake mix things – the taste was spot on. But with 1 small pancake between 3 of us, well that wasn’t going to work. So I rang mum and we joined them for mum’s homemade perfect pancakes.
I watched, I even had a go and cooked a perfect one there, gas hob same as mine, only difference was mum let the fat warm up more than I had so I assumed that was my problem. Nope tried again when I got home and the hotter the fat the worse it seemed to stick. So I have decided that’s it no more pancake making attempts from me, if mum isn’t about I’ll buy shop bought ones!
On the plus side though, B was very interested in what pancake day is all about, and why I was asking her what she would give up for lent. I explained that pancakes were made to use up the perishable food before fasting for 40 days and 40 nights from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. She was fascinated and initially said she would give up sex for lent (!!!!), I asked her what she thought that would mean, to which she replied it would mean not looking good till Easter! Hmmm, talked her out of that one and so she has decided to give up being naughty for lent – yeah we will see how that one goes! I have decided to give up chocolate, so to all my dear friends out there, please don’t offer me chocolate till Easter!
It got me wondering though, how many other people actually explain the meanings of these special days to their kids? I mean, B obviously hasn’t learnt about it at school, even though their pancake races are a big event each year. I wouldn’t class myself as religious in that I don’t go to church every week, but I do have my faith and Easter is a time when I find myself taking stock and thinking about what my faith means to me. I always try and give something up for lent. B was christened on Palm Sunday too, so that holds special significance for me as well. What does it all mean for you?
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