If you want an energy efficient, convenient, and delicious dinner, try using a crock pot. I saved about 80 cents by using my slow cooker instead of the stove top to make a dinner recently, and everyone loved the results.
There are tons of savory crock pot recipes on line. A few weeks ago we had a friend staying and I thought I'd drag out my old crock pot and put it to the test. On a cold, damp morning I found a recipe for an autumn stew that sounded really good. I've made many stews on the stove top, but they require being at home to watch the pot.
Typically, I simmer a beef stew on my gas stove for at least three hours. I calculated with my handy electrical usage meter that this requires about $1 worth of electricity. Running my electric slow cooker for the eight hours it took to make a stew cost only 20 cents! So, I saved 80 cents and if I did this once a week all year long I could pocket close to $50! But, (and this is the best part), the stew I made tasted better than any I ever made on a stove top.
The nice thing about it is that I spent about ½ hour preparing the meal at 8:00 in the morning after I took my daughter to school. Then I left the house for the better part of the day. By 4:30 that night the stew was ready.
Perfect End to Rainy Day
I turned my crock pot to warm and finished doing some chores. Around 6:30 I boiled noodles and cut some Italian bread. We broke out a bottle of wine when my husband and our friend came home at around 7:00 and enjoyed it with a very satisfying meal of stew over warm noodles. The perfect end to a dreary, rainy day.
My slow cooker has found a new life. Last week I made a fish chowder with halibut that even my daughter said was “really, really good.” Coming from a twelve-year-old girl, that's high praise!
RECIPE FOR AUTUMN VEGETABLE BEEF STEW
1 ½ pounds lean stewing beef
1 slice bacon, (diced)
1 cup chopped onion (I used leeks)
2 cups beef broth
1 cup apple cider
5-6 medium potatoes (diced)
2 carrots (peeled and sliced thin)
2 ribs celery (ditto)
1 ½ cups diced rutabaga (I prefer parsnips)
1 cup of fresh green beans (I added for color)
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried rosemary
a dash of pepper
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
The combo flavors of cider and bacon make this really tasty. Just cook the bacon, beef and onions over medium heat until beef is browned and bacon is cooked. Drain the grease and add the beef, bacon, onions along with beef broth, apple cider, potatoes, carrots, celery, parsnips, bay leaf, rosemary, and pepper. Cover and cook 7 to 9 hours on medium. Combine flour with cold water to form a smooth mixture. Stir into beef mixture, turn to high and cook 15 minutes longer. The recipe says it serves 4-6, but I added a little more beef and veggies than called for, put it over noodles, and served 7 people.