The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday 31 May 2015

The Crock Pot (Slow Cooker) Your number one handmaiden.

There is nothing nicer in the world than getting to the end of the day when you are tired, worn out, and frazzled and you walk through the door to the aroma of a beautiful meal cooked for you. Oh, what a relief. I hope you have experienced this a few times!

It doesn't matter if we have been out all day and returning home or perhaps home after a busy day, the meal all cooked and ready to serve is just the nicest thing.

Everyone loves the aroma of hot food as they walk in. What a welcome home and it builds anticipation of a wonderful meal. 

When my children were babies I was a single Mum. I noticed right away four or five in the afternoon babies were grizzly, I was tired, feeding would be difficult and it all came when I needed to start cooking dinner. There were times when cooking then was hard.

Later this time became busy with baths and bed time, homework, after school activities and tired and hungry children. Five o'clock seems to be the time for everything!

If you are working outside the home you are heading home after five. I can't imagine then also having to face decisions about dinner, cooking and cleaning up. Plus everything else...

Whether its tiredness or too many things happening someone at home cooking your dinner is just a dream come true.

Knowing dinner is beautiful and will be ready has another effect. You are not stressing about it. You are free to talk with the family, help with homework, relax and chat or take a soak in the bath if you want. You are also not running to the grocery store and trying to work out what to cook for dinner or tempted to grab takeaway. None of these things enter your head. This is a money saver and time saver. And massive stress saver. 

If this sounds perfect to you then you can start a new life next week and have your dinner cooked and ready and avoid the five o'clock crazy hour forever. 
You just need a crock pot/ slow cooker. And you don't need to use it everyday. It will provide extra meals that are not recognisable as repeats or left overs. And you will have lunches you could take to work or send with the kids to school. It will save you so much... cooking, time, money, stress and worry.

There are lots of things that just taste better after long slow cooking. Soups, casseroles, roasts, curries and so many things develop beautiful flavours over time. Even inexpensive meats become glorious when slow cooked. Lamb shanks fall off the bone. It is really divine.

But more... you are not standing at the stove, you are off doing things you need to be doing. 

An abundance of soup or meat from last night also gives you tomorrows lunch or perhaps another dinner in a night or two. And many casseroles turn out to be perfect tender filling for golden flaky pies. Suddenly you are famous for your pies.

All of my recipes are designed to get you going and to increase your confidence to cook meals your family will love. In reality you can cook almost anything and so many things you didn't think you had time to cook!

Much of it can be pre prepared, specials can be taken advantage of. I decide much of my menu from marked down meat and amazing vegie specials. These go straight into the crock pot or I freeze ready to go.

Even times I am having a summer BBQ or entertaining the crock pot might be full of sides, like baked potatoes or corn on the cob or a lovely bread to serve hot. Or a hot desert to serve later.

Another huge advantage is saving energy. Here in South Australia power is very expensive. Last summer I stopped using my oven altogether in an experiment. I used either the crock pot, the BBQ or we had cold meals. Our electricity bill was $400 cheaper for the quarter. Yes $400. And since I have found the same and compared the bills. It has been my oven eating the power. 

In summer keeping the house cool is another issue. The oven just heats up the kitchen which is the last thing you need on a really hot day. On those days I usually serve cold meat and salads. Other times I have used the crock pot and it does not heat up the house. I will cook a piece of meat and use it in wraps, or serve salads with it. Wonderful. The house stays much cooler.

You can make beautiful baby food. I worked out that my crock pot full of pumpkin to puree or apples or pears.... results in pureed baby food that in the store would cost $77 to buy. The ingredients to make would be well under $7 so lets just say that is abut $70 saving every time you do it! Isn't that crazy?

You can also stew your fruit. Apples let go long enough turn pink. I used to add sago and the girls loved this for desert and eat it cold the following days. The scent of quinces cooking as they turned pink was another lovely one. Stewed fruit hot in winter or cold in summer is just yummy!

Your crock pot is your trusty helper there to serve you. It will make meals while you are busy or while you sleep. What could be better?

Lets get started!

I have several crock pots. They are inexpensive to buy and I have some from op shops too. If you have never used one a really good way to start is to make your favourite soup. Whatever recipe you love. If it is a blended soup you will blend it at the end of the day. Use less water than you normally would but otherwise just pop everything you normally would put in, get it started in the morning and let it go all day. You have no stirring or checking, you just come home to cooked soup. If using vegies that you would normally cut up small don't both just throw in big chunks and save yourself the bother.

Most recipes you love can be used. Less water is usually the key. I only add water to soups. Or around corned beef.  Nothing else! As moisture doesn't escape so things are more moist than you might first expect. And most meats and vegies are moist, it is surprising how much moisture comes out of things.  For flavour or gravy you can use all kinds of things from balsamic vinegar, cranberry sauce, tomato paste, a tin of soup, mint jelly... think of all the flavoursome "liquids" that go with the combination you are using. ie I think Pork.... goes with apples... Lamb goes with mint jelly... chicken goes with cranberry... beef goes with tomato... whatever you think are combinations you love! What else goes? Mushrooms go nicely with beef or chicken. So you could use mushrooms, mushroom soup, a tin or dry... and so on. Apples to go with pork could be whole apples, diced apples, a tin of apples... It is very flexible!

Now my husband said to me that he didn't like crock pot meals. He said they are "too creamy" so somewhere along the line someone had cooked him something he didn't like much and he doesn't like creamy meals. End of story. I just took it as a challenge. I soon knew he loves curries. And I am not a curry maker. So I bought curry bases in the supermarket and went from there. We had butter chicken and I did sides of Nann bread and raita and little salads in pretty bowls and rice. And beef Korma and Tikka Masala and he thought it was all so fabulous. It was all in my crockpot. Then I did a lamb leg and loads of vegies with a rich gravy, and then lamb shanks with tomato and red wine... well it was an easy conversion! 

Your best bet is going to be cooking things your family really loves. I am all for trying new things, introducing more things, packing in a lot of vegies and making things healthy. But start off with things you know they are going to love. I don't mind a bit if you use flavour bases from the supermarket or stock or a can of soup. I am a country style cook. I cook rustic wholesome food. I understand country flavours and my priority is to cook wholesome meals and for us to eat a lot of vegetables everyday. I like us to have seven or so serves of vegies. Everyday. I like to have meals on hand for when I am sick. I get migraines and I factor that in. I always keep meals in the freezer and soup in case anyone is sick. But I don't know how to balance the flavour of a curry and feel intimidated by that. So I buy lovely curry sauces and use them. They have all turned out so well. These do not have to be especially for the crock pot. I keep some on hand. My Mum has abundant mint in her garden so I learned to pick a bunch, blend into yoghurt and add a dash of cumin so I have a raita to serve with curries. This is yum and I love it! What I am saving is it is ok to improvise,substitute, experiment, cheat and learn. We are all learning. And even if we use something like a flavour base or can of soup, over all that meal is still likely to be much healthier than take away. 

Left over vegetables and a chicken carcass can be put on in the evening and let go over night. While you are sleeping you are cleverly making wonderful stock.

You could make a thick heartt soup and in the morning fill the thermos with this and send these to work or to school on cold days. 

Getting set up. 

Having a few basic things ready to go is going to help. Things that you do not want to "stew" will need to be placed on something to raise them off the base of your crock pot. Simple things like egg rings will work. I would do this with a pot roast chicken, for instance. I like to have some cake airers that are just the right size for this. And some casserole dishes to insert that are just the right size. These will be for cakes, custards, creme caramel etc that need to be placed into a water bath for divine results! So see what you have and then see what you can find. I make a template of the base of each crock pot and keep that in my purse. This way I have perfectly sized things when I need them. 
My most often used inserts are a vegetable steamer thingy that I sit over the top of other ingredients to cook peas or other vegies that I might want separate...

This is kind of collapsible and fits a variety of things. Other ones are the old triangle shaped inserts with holes through them. They will work fine.

Non stick baking paper is another essential. With something like a cake or loaf of bread you might rather use a tin inside the crock pot. Otherwise you can line the crock pot dish with baking paper and place it directly in. I just find that makes things easier to lift out. Also you can use baking paper to create layers or "pockets" to separate sections of food from one another.

Next is oven bags. These come in different sizes. These make it possible to have vegies cooking in one bag and baked apples in another all that the same time.

Then you need cake tins, casserole dishes, ramekins etc that sit nicely inside your crock pot.  These casserole dishes fit in just right for individual baked custards where you are sitting them into a water bath so they cook like velvet...

Or this larger baking dish for custard, creme caramel, rice pudding...

Filling the bottom of the crock pit with water and sitting these in is much safer than juggling a tray of boiling water in a baking pan in the oven. When making something like this I will put a tea towel under the lid so there are no drips. I would do that too for cakes, breads etc. Anything where you don't want condensation dripping back into food.

Here I have just used a foil tray for my meatloaf and surrounded my vegies around that. I would put a couple of desert spoons of water in the bottom and that is it. Toward the end I might add grated cheese over my cauliflower ...  or perhaps pour over a sauce.

The other thing to have is a stick blender. To puree soup or vegies I blend it right there in the cooker. Quick and easy.

After you have used the crock pot it is easy to clean. Fill it with water and let it sit. If it is really dirty with stuck on food add some fabric softener or a dish washer tablet and let it soak. You can even run it a while and let this brew do it's thing. It will clean so easily after that.

Next in this series I will start on recipes. They are my tried and tested ones. But whatever recipes are your families most loved recipes they will work. It is easy to adapt and things you never feel you have the time for now you will cook all the time!

Also the large amounts you can cook lead to other meals. I will show you how a chicken casserole will be just that on night one and the left overs can become a family chicken pie, individual pies to freeze or a version of a Shepherds Pie with mashed potato over the top. The crock pot gives you the most tender pie fillings ever! 

You can make baked custards, creme caramel, scrolls, bread, anything! All without worrying about stirring, burning etc. You can put things in before bed time and wake up to cooked breakfast on a cold morning. 

People also seem to think things all need to be casseroles or stews or soup. But you can separate layers or sections so that different components never even touch each other.

You can also divide your meal so one side is main and another side is desert.

Things like boiled puddings or steamed puddings are easy as you never have to worry about them boiling dry.

I will leave it there for today. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find inserts and accessories that fit your crock pot so that you can make all kinds of new things as we go along.

Have a really good week! We have a fresh new moth ahead of us! xxx


  1. Annabel I am looking forward to this series as I don't use my crockpot as much as I could after a couple of disappointing results.

    1. Thanks Barb! In the meantime make soups and stewed fruit etc as even these are such a help when you have been busy or out for the day. It has started to be so cold here that soups are going to be on all the time. First day of winter... I guess we had better get used to it! xxx

  2. Annabel, I can't wait to see how you cook bread in a crockpot!!!! Do we really have to wait a another whole week????? Great post!

    1. Dear Patsy, Thank you for your support on this!
      I hate to tell you but it is going to take a few weeks to do all the posts on this subject! But I hope it will help to .... stretch meals, make economical meals, prepare meals ahead, save money... and all the things I think a crock pot is helpful for. I want to cover deserts and breads and soups... so many things! Have a wonderful week! Love

  3. I'm so looking forward to your posts in this series Annabel. I do not use the crockpot as much as I could either. I usually revert to casseroles, soups and pot roast beef cooked in it, and haven't thought of cooking the vegetable "sides" like you do in it. I have tried overnight oatmeal which was a bit claggy even though I used a trivet, water and a smaller casserole insert.

    I usually steam veggies separate while the meat portion cooks in the crockpot. Apart from soup, I rarely cook veggies in the mix (hubby hates them in with meat) otherwise it is painful to watch him dissect the thing and try to throw out perfectly harmless veggies while I'm not looking!! If you wonder how I get by with "veggie" soup, I blitz the thing and add potato so it is always presented as "cream of..soup" with a swirl of cream. I love chunky veg soup or stews though! I cook and freeze them in portions if I make them so I can have texture still. ;) Thankfully, my daughters all love their veggies like their Mum, and I love heaps of them daily as well.

    I accept the mission challenge Annabel! ;) I have one large and one medium sized crockpot.... I have some items already to make inserts and dividers etc..... so let the games begin!!

    1. Kaye once your Grand daughter is on solids I see you making awesome batches of baby food!
      Blending ie cream of whatever soups is a good idea I do that a lot. But I think I can help with the "keep things separate" issues that will help you.
      In your case inserts, dividers and layers will be really important so the more you have the better! I am thrilled you are on board! Have a great week! xxx

  4. Hello Dear Annabel,

    Yes I choose to accept your mission as well & will be testing your recipes next week, can't wait! I just love the passion that comes through in your post above & it has fired me up to try cooking different ways in my slow cooker.

    I made a gorgeous pot of Pea & Ham soup yesterday (had 2 frozen ham bones that needed using) & it sounds SO BORING compared to the wonderful creations you're doing, LOL. so......BRING IT ON!!

    Love & hugs

    PS: I hope your beautiful grand daughter is coming along in leaps & bounds & is not being too spoilt by her Nana ;)

    1. Dear Susan, Thank you yes Harper has gained and is happy and content and so cute! Andy has had a cold so the last few days I have stayed away as I dont want them to get it... but should be back there tomorrow!
      I dont think Pea and Ham soup is boring at all I think thats wonderful! thick and heart soup is delicious, warming and filling. Oh and economical too.
      But yes it is great to be able to cook curries and pit roasts and puddings etc as well.
      It is cold here today! 1st day of winter!! I will be snuggled up crocheting in the warm... a bliss I know you understand! Lots of love,

  5. Annabel, I love my slow cooker too! It's saved me so much just in the last week. When you know you have to be out of the house all day, it's a lifesaver, and so calming to have that little security blanket of knowing that dinner is done and dusted. A Winter vegetable soup for we in the Southern Hemisphere is Queen of Frugal Meals. Any vege left in the crisper by Thursday, goes into the pot with chicken stock, lots of garlic, onion and fresh and dried herbs and spices, and is simmered all day till fragrant and soft. As you say, a whiz then with the stick mixer, and a swirl of cream, some soft rolls brushed with olive oil and grilled, and dinner is ready and it's healthy and inexpensive! Yum! I'm going to love this series I think. Mimi xxx

    1. Sorry for my slow reply Mimi! I agree that it is a saviour to walk in and dinner is done.Without this there would have been times in life where I would have bought take away or whatever but I have not needed to. This is much healthier and better.
      Soup is so comforting and good. Such a dollar stretcher. My Nan always made wonderful soups. I grew up on them.
      I know you have been having a busy time, I hope you are having a lovely weekend. xxx

  6. Look forward to your recipes. I have done many meals in crockpot over the years but then we all get a bit sick of that crockpot food smell if that makes sense. I have followed your pantry series and have learnt a lot. Yours is my go-to blog now as living on as little as possible i find you have some great ideas whilst quality is not decreased.

    1. Thank you so much Ruth I really appreciate that.
      I feel that there are tough times around and it is a worry as I dont think its getting better. SA is very expensive in so many ways I I wonder what true unemployment is... it is high! I dont know the difference in the west but I imagine much the same. In any instance I think our pantries and budget are really important to help us! Plus the things we can do to make life as lovely as we can!
      I will try and give you some really different things to make in your crock pot. You cant beat the smell of baking bread so that might be a good one! Many

  7. Dear Annabel,
    I have a crock pot, but haven't used it in years. I would benefit a lot from using it and your post is just the inspiration to get me doing so.

    Very much looking forward to this series!! You have the most wonderful ideas.

    1. Dear Glenda, This is exciting for me! If I can help you with this I would be thrilled. Especially, say, if you can be free to do some sewing as your crock pot is busy making the dinner! That sort of thing...
      Tomorrow I am making a focaccia bread in the crock pot as I am busy all day and this will go with an easy dinner. Pictures next week! Lots of love,

  8. Oh this is so good Annabel, I will be following with interest. I was using my slow cooker lots and then I had a couple of failures so I put it away. I prefer to use my pressure cooker at the moment, but will definitely try some tried and true recipes that you post.


    1. Sorry for my slow reply Tania! For days that you wont be home the slow cooker is so wonderful. You walk in and dinner smells great. Even if its a big pot of soups something is waiting for you. I hope some of the recipes help. With love,

  9. Hi Annabel, I love my slow cooker, but I tend to only use it for things like casseroles. I am feeling so inspired by all of your suggestions and can't wait to hear some of your recipes. I would love to know how to make chicken soup from the left over carcass. Things have been pretty busy for me lately, with study and work, so the thought of coming home to that 'dinner's cooking' smell sounds heavenly.
    Stephanie xx

    1. Stephanie I will try to cover that next week. You get a lot of flavor from a chicken carcass and it is also good for risotto or other soups. But chicken soup is hard to beat.
      It is wonderful to have dinner waiting for you. Its a relief!
      Thank you very much for your encouragement! xxx

  10. Annabel, I made a Slow Cook Foccacia Bread in my crockpot I had never used the crockpot for anything other than a casserole before that. It didn't last very long as the menfolk scoffed it down. Lamb Shanks are my latest experiment. This is a good series and I am sure it will be helpful to a lot of busy mums including my girl who is probably reading this during a 2am feed with my little grandson :-)

    1. Thank you Nanna Chel! I will link to your focaccia recipe next week as I am making one tomorrow! I have a soft cheese I add at the end that kind of melts and goes gooey over the top... it is lovely.
      I hope your lovely daughter sees my baby food costings. Isnt it crazy the amount saved by making such a simple thing?
      Also tomorrow night I will have creme caramel in the crock pot. That is another thing that works out well and is easier.
      Have a great week. lots of love, Annabelxxx

  11. Hi Annabel,
    I have been following your blog for a while and I am really enjoying it. (Like you, I make all of my own cards) Our summer is starting here in Ontario, Canada and I can tell you that I use my crockpot all year round for the same reasons you gave. It stays on my counter top.When I am not making dinner in it, I am making a soup stock or cooking dried beans to split up into 1 cup portions for the freezer.I am looking forward to this series and so happy to learn many more uses for my favourite appliance.

    1. Welcome Susan, it is wonderful to have you here all the way from Ontario!
      I am so glad you use your crock pot to help you with so many things. I will ve thrilled if you find even more uses for it!
      Tomorrow I am making focaccia bread then creme caramel... I know my menu ahead so I know these will be on. This makes things simple. I will post these next Monday as they are quite useful and yum.
      Thank you so much for commenting! xxx

  12. Nice! Definitely a few interesting tips in that one! Love the idea of the meatloaf with the veg around it, who would have thought only a few spoons of water could cook your veggies haha :D I'll have to give that a go for sure!

    Anne xxx

    1. Thanks Anne! Yes that bit of moisture is enough that everything will be steamed and tender. An alternative is vegies with a sauce over the top. ie a cheese sauce on cauliflower...
      I put things on in the morning and use high. Later you can always turn it down. It is very handy! xxx

  13. It would appear that my comment from yesterday has gone astray lol!

    I just wanted to say that this will be a great series Annabel, I look forward to following along and learning some hints and recipes. I have used my slow cooker quite a lot this year but had a couple of flops so put it back in the cupboard. I eagerly await to try your tried and true recipes.

    Wishing you a lovely week,

    1. Yes that one must have hit a bird Tania. thanks for trying again!
      Soups never fail and it is so handy to have one simmering away. Also stocks from left overs. When you are busy this is a way of getting heaps more done and I know you are busy. I hope this helps anyway. This afternoon before I go out Im putting in a focaccia to got with dinner.
      Have a great week to you too! xxx

  14. This is one of my favourite topics Annabel, so I cannot wait to see what you have for us in the coming weeks! Cream of Winter Vegetable soup is a favourite here, and it's literally whatever veges are on hand, simmered for the day in flavoursome stock, rich with garlic, chilli, onions and earthy spices, and finished with a whizz of the stick mixer and a swirl of cream. So frugal, simple, and comforting. You are genius to make meatloaf and veg that way....I've never thought of that! Mimi xxx

    1. That soup sounds beautiful Mimi. I had leftover vegies from roasting last week and did something similar. It was delicious. Winter is wonderful for things like this. As you say they are comforting... warming and filling. What a good thing.
      I will add recipes and ideas each week for a while... this will push me too to try new things! xxx

  15. Oh Annabel you have done it again!! I really appreciate the time and effort you put into this post. I have learnt so much already. After a few disappointing slow cooker results i got scared off and my slow cooker sits lonely at the back of the cupboard.
    That is all going to change!! Shelley

    you have taught me

    1. Dear Shelley, Thank you! I hope this is a help. At the moment I find soups a big help as it has just started to get really cold. Whatever soups you like will work except put in only water/stock up to about 2 inches max. You can add more later if needed but its easier than removing it as it was too much. Your best casserole dishes should work perfectly too. But over the coming weeks we will do all kinds of things and I hope it helps you.
      It is such a relief to come home to everything pretty well ready for dinner.
      Thank you so much! Love Annabelxxx

  16. I used my crockpot today, thanks to you, and it was wonderful to get to the end of the day and dinner was mostly ready. All I had to do was bake some sweet potatoes. My family raved over it. Looking forward to learning more of your tips!

    1. I am glad your family loved your meal Marie! I agree it is such a relief and so nice to walk in to the smell of something good cooking.I will never take that for granted, it is always just lovely. Evenings being calmer is a good thing too.
      I hope some of my recipes will be helpful to you. Many

  17. Annabel, I am so excited about this slow cooker series!! You have so many wonderful ideas and recipes. I cook lots of different things in my slow cooker but have never tried breads or desserts (other than stewed fruit). The meatloaf I made a while back, using your example turned out great!

    You are so right about baby food being so crazy expensive. I made all my own for our children but never thought to make it in a slow cooker! lol Would have been so much easier.
    Looking forward to many new ideas and recipes! Thank you! :)

    1. Thank you so much Teri! Over the coming weeks I will do custard, baked apples, dumplings, golden syrup pudding...
      First I am doing stock as that is such a handy basic and nutritious.
      Yes things like baby food are easy. You dont have to watch things for burning or catching on the bottom. It is a big help. I will be very pleased if anything helps you out at all. With love,

  18. I must admit that my slow cooker is underutilised. I make soup in it and also a brown stew in bulk that morphs into something else next time it comes out of the freezer. In summer I use it to cook corned meat but that is about it. Really should use it more or at least one of them, I have 3 different sized ones and tend to use the middle sized one the most.

    Think the slow cooker is going to be used more often after this series Annabel.


    1. Dear Lynette, it is great having different sized slow cookers. It is nothing for me to have two going at once. I do corned beef too, Andy loves that.
      The weather we are having is very inspiring for this series. It is so cold here yesterday and today! I love having soup going or anything warming.
      I think I need to get used to the cold... I was enjoying autumn and the sunny days but it has suddenly really changed to true winter!
      Have a lovely week. I do hope this series is helpful. Love

    2. Annabel we are the same - winter has arrived when it usually doesn't until July. Going from warm t shirt weather on the weekend to this has been a shock to the system for sure.


  19. I'm really looking forward to your recipes, Annabel! I use my slow cooker quite a bit - with four little ones I find it much easier to get dinner going in the morning rather than in that mad rush between school pick up and dinnertime. I use it for stews, soup, roasts (a leg of lamb with a little olive oil, some salt and rosemary takes me two minutes to prepare and is amazing), stock, baked potatoes, and stewed apple, but I've never tried cakes, bread, custards, etc. I actually had no idea I could use baking dishes inside my slow cooker. I can see this is going to open up so many meal options for me!

    1. Thank you Grace! I am so pleased your Slow Cooker helps you so much! It was the same for me when the girls were little.
      The custards would be good for the children I think, I will do one of those on Mondays post.
      I do a Lamb dish similar... it is so nice! The left over lamb I use with Tatziki dip and salad to make beautiful wraps in summer. This can be warm or cold. It is yum!
      Baked apples are good too!
      I will be really thrilled if this helps you use your Slow Cooker even more. I dont know how I would have managed without mine. Thank you! xxx

  20. You are teaching me so much!!! I am just gulping down your blog :) Thank you for sharing with us and have a beautiful week!

    1. Thank you Jes that is the nicest thing to say! You have a lovely week too. xxx

  21. I'm in the middle of a major cull Annabel and as I rarely use my two crockpots I was eyeing off the smaller one and getting ready to "release" it. (I tend to use my thermal cookers a lot more these days for soups and casseroles). However, I've read your post with considerable interest - cos the concept of separate cooking *in* the crockpot is definitely new, so both slow cookers are still in the pantry, awaiting a new term of service!! ;)

    1. Hi Rebecca, I am wondering if the thermal cooker will work the same and you can still do separate sections?
      I saw you are culling and moving. I was a bit sad about that and your cow and chooks... but I hope it turns out for the best and when you look back it was all good and new and better things are coming!
      Moving is a great time for culling, selling off stuff etc since it is all expensive to move. These have been my times of reducing greatly. Which feels good!
      I hope some of my crock pot tips turn out to be useful even if for the thermal cooker! xxx

    2. Thanks, Annabel - yes, we were/are sad about chookies and cow but hoping for bigger, better (and warmer!) adventures.

      I'm not sure about separation in the thermal cookers - though I do at times have curry/casserole in the big pot and rice in the smaller pot. They need a bank of stored heat to work effectively (without power), so I tend to make full quantities of soup/casserole/curry and then freeze any leftovers.

      I'm really liking the thought of slow cooker experimentation for the things I wouldn't generally tackle in the thermal cookers - particularly as a diversion from culling/packing! xx

  22. Dear Annabel,

    The crockpot IS our #1 Handmaiden! You are so right about that! :)

    As much as I loved her before, this post has changed the way I look at my crock pot! I use it and love it, but there is so much more I never considered or looked into. I am going to look for another crock pot one size larger than what I currently have. I see from reading this post that with two going my results will increase when I have my cook-ups. The possibilities have me GIDDY! I've never done custards in them and I'm going to give it a try, so THANK you so much for this post!

    Thank you to all the other lovely comments as well. I feel like I've been to class and now it's time to put what I've learned into practice!

    Much Love,
    Colette xxx

  23. Thanks for the helpful hints! I use my crockpot religiously and yet have never used inserts. I'll take up the challenge.

    Blessings, Leslie

    1. Thank you Leslie! On Monday I will show how using an insert dish works for creme caramel or custard and also how an insert makes for very easy stock that self drains. This is a big help!
      Welcome to the challenge! xxx

  24. Thank you for sharing this with us at Good Morning Mondays. I love using my crock pots and sometimes I have one going with the main meal in it and one with desert, they are so quick and easy to use. I can imagine how hot your house would get in summer in SA and not turning your oven on would be such a blessing. We use our BBQ a lot in summer here in Victoria and really helps to keep the house cool. Looking forward to more of these posts. Blessings

    1. I found you through Jes, Terri and very glad I did!
      You sound like me with the slow cookers going with main and desert at once.
      Also we BBQ heaps and keep the heat and mess outside. Big help!
      Many thanks

  25. Oh I am so with you, my crockpot is amazing. Just used it yesterday, actually :) Can't wait to see some of the recipes you'll share!

    Thanks for sharing this with us on the Homestead Blog Hop!


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