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The Joy of Slow Cooking

Lesley Robinson
From New Beginnings, Vol. 31 No. 1, 2010, p. 37

No special equipment is required in order to experience the joy of slow cooking. (Electric slow cookers are available.) All you need is an ovenproof dish with a lid and, of course, an oven. The basic technique is to fill your dish with your ingredients, put it in the oven at a low temperature (250°F, 120°C), and leave it to cook all by itself for 12 hours. I discovered this technique when I learned how to make Cholent, a traditional Jewish dish, which is left to cook overnight for the Sabbath when cooking is prohibited. Although the cooking time is long, no stirring or adjustment is required, and the preparation time is very brief. As slow cooking saves time and effort it is an ideal way for busy mothers to provide nutritious and easy meals, while still being available to take care of the needs of little ones.

This method works well to make soups and stews and I love to do this when I need something to take with me for a potluck lunch or dinner. A soup made overnight makes an easy and warming lunch and the slow cooker method involves so little preparation time, that it virtually cooks itself. In my soups I always include at least one onion for flavor and at least one potato for texture. Other than that, I let my creativity run wild. My favorite soups are leek and potato, butternut squash, or sweet potato. You can experiment with different vegetables and add meat if you are a meat eating family. Celery, carrots, peas, lentils or asparagus all make excellent soups and a medley of winter vegetables, for example, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, and beets, makes a welcoming soup to come home to. All you need to do is to chop the vegetables roughly, add your favorite herbs and/or spices, cover generously with water and leave to cook. When the cooking time is over, just blend the soup together (with a hand blender if you have one) and you will have a beautifully textured and tasty soup. You can add extra fresh herbs after cooking for garnishing and to add a fresh flavor.

Slow-cooked roast beef is a tremendous crowd pleaser at my house for special occasions and is so easy that I am able to enjoy a day out with the family and still come home to a fabulous home-cooked dinner. For best results, sear the beef for several minutes on both sides, then put it in your pot, put the lid on, and leave it cooking slowly all day. When you come home, your dish will be full of wonderful juices for making the gravy.

Slow cooking is also ideal for one-dish suppers. It is perfect for casseroles, chilies, curries and stews and is a perfect cooking method for dried beans. Another wonderful advantage of slow cooking is that these kinds of meals freeze well, so it is easy to cook large quantities and have complete meals ready for days when you have no time to be in the kitchen at all.

For me the greatest joy of slow cooking comes when I wake up in the middle of the night and smell the wonderful cooking aromas coming from my kitchen. I turn over and go back to sleep, knowing that with no further effort from me, my family will have a terrific meal ready for them. Sheer bliss!


A little olive oil
2 onions, chopped
Several garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups mixed dried beans
4 medium-sized potatoes, peeled, and cut into chunks
2 carrots, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
Ground cumin
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce (this is not vegetarian so should be left out if you are feeding vegetarians)
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp flour

Cover the bottom of a large ovenproof dish with olive oil. Layer the ingredients in the order given. Try experimenting with different seasonings. You can add the herbs and spices of your choice. Cover generously with water. Cover the dish with a well-fitting lid and cook in the oven at 250°F (120°C) for 12 hours.


3 cups dried black beans
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 tsp chili powder
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp ground cumin
1tbsp ground coriander
9 cups (2 l) vegetable stock
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lime
Freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves

Combine all ingredients except chopped coriander leaves in a large ovenproof dish. Cover the dish with a well-fitting lid and cook overnight in the oven at 250°F (120°C). Add chopped coriander leaves to serve.

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