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 14 June 2015

Crock pot cooking. Baked Apples, stewed fruit, Corned Beef...

Thank you for all the comments and mail on this series! It looks like lots of you have your handmaidens  working hard to help you. Good! We need all the help we can get. If we have help we can do more and do better. And get some rest as well!

Last week I used the slow cooker to make baked apples. This is another one where there are several advantages. One is I can put it on and at dinner time, evening, I have way less to do. The other is slow cooking and fruit are a match made in heaven. Apples turn pink when cooked slowly for a longer time. When the girls were little pink apples were a favourite.
In the case of baked apples the humble apple becomes intensified, caramelised, delicious, making it a wintery thing and a hearty warming desert. Also apples are on special :)
This is all I did... place half a cup of water in the crock pot. Take the cores out of the apples and pack that space with sultanas, walnuts and brown sugar.
I did six. That meant one each for dinner. One each the next night. Warm baked apples for me for two breakfasts! (this was lovely).

Sit the apples in the crock pot and sprinkle over extra brown sugar. This is personal taste. I say add a little bit extra as your water is going to become caramel sauce.

I cooked on low about 4 hours. This you don't need to be too fussy about, more or less would have done.  At this point the sultanas have become plump and juicy and the nuts have become soft and chewy. They are delicious. You could use dates, raisins, cranberries or anything else you think.

When you serve scoop a spoonful of the sauce off the bottom of the crock pot and drizzle over the top. I served with cream. 

This was so good!

Now while I am talking about fruit in the crock pot think of stewing, poaching pears, adding dried fruit in with other fruits and cook until thick and rich. Cook up apples or pears or both and puree with a stick blender and you have baby food. Or apples for apple sauce. Add more water to the baked apples and do sago as well. The kids loved this, we called them little hailstones.

Dried fruits cooked up with fresh or tinned fruit will give a rich delicious hot desert which could be served topped with a crumble topping or cream, custard or ice cream. Kept in the fridge this becomes breakfast on it's own or with porridge or other cereals. Yum!

So many options!

Next I made Corned Beef.  Andy loves this. Traditionally it is served with mashed potato, vegies and a cheesy sauce.  It also gives you cold meat. I did the cold meat option as I don't love it, I think it's a man thing as Andy is mad over it and so is Dad.

You 3/4 fill the crock pot with water. Add a splash of vinegar, bay leaves and about a tablespoon of peppercorns.
Add your corned beef and then enough water to cover it just.

Let this go on high all day. Or overnight. I think 8 hours is good but more or less is ok.

It comes out pink and moist and once cold slices very nicely and you have a ton of cold meat for making up lunches or a cold platter. That is if you don't eat it as a hot meal!

This is much cheaper than buying sliced meat from the deli. Once you have this the other option is to roll it in thick cracked pepper. Once you have that crust on it you bake it for an hour on low. Then you have pastrami. Woolies pastrami is about $25 a kilo! I can do that for about $8.  This slices thinly and is fabulous as the flavor is strong and rich. Either are a big hit made up into rolls or eaten as they are around here. I made up a heap of rolls for a fishing trip with corned beef and mustard. This pretty much equals guaranteed popularity!

Perhaps the best combination is to have a hot dinner and have left over cold meats for the next day. It is just useful!

I wanted to do casseroles and pies this week as well but it will be too long. That is a huge subject! So that's coming up!

Let your handmaidens work hard. No slacking off in the kitchen lol. Put on that bread maker and made bread, pizza dough, scrolls etc. and make it work hard for you. A tray of sweet or savoury scrolls is so handy and so easy if you have dough already made up for you. Let your crock pot be quietly making soup or desert or your favourite curry or something for dinner while you are busy with other things. It just lightens your load so much.  Cook plenty. I didn't need 6 apples but I am not going to cook 2! It was lovely having two mornings with apples for breakfasts (I warmed them in the microwave) and the desert was so nice a second night was welcomed with nothing to do. I would never think of cooking every night. You don't ever need to if you have cooked extra and made a pie or cook something that becomes something else the next night. I will do a post just on that. A lot of people say they can't serve the same thing twice. You can alter things or freeze a portion and a month later it is dinner. Or cook something like I cook pot roast lamb and serve with vegetables and mint jelly. In the next day or two that left over lamb is served in wraps with Tatziki dip and salad. This is so nice and is so different from the first meal. Or a pot roast chicken and another night a chicken pizza or cold chicken and salad. One is cooking the other is assembling only. I love assembling only meals as that is really like a night off.

This week I will cook pears as they are on a big special at the moment. And stock and pumpkin soup as this seems to be my most popular soup. And a curry as the weather is pretty cold. Once night we will have it with rice. Another night it will re appear with naan bread a little salad and raita. It gives me two nights anyway and a little change and it seems different! The girls gave me beautiful indian serving bowls to serve things in. They make it look so nice!

Have a wonderful week! We have some rain which we need! 


  1. Thanks for the hint on rolling the corned beef and making pastrami! That is so helpful. I made corned beef in the crockpot once for dinner and it was pink and no one really liked it. I havent made it that way again, but the set and forget option of crockpots is so helpful and easy. I like it cold, and like pastrami as it is not as bland in flavour. So I will give it another go now and use this option.

    Baked apples always remind me of my Gran. She made them in the oven and always scored around the top so they didn't split. What a beautiful fragrance they create while cooking! I will have to make some in the crockpot this week.

    I used leftover rice and made your crockpot rice custard variation. My girls didn't like it, but it is years since I've made it. My husband and I loved it! I will have to make a macaroni custard now. I confess it was breakfast also for me! Like those yummy apples were to you. I thought, why not?!!

    1. Kaye I love rice custard... and I say its fair game for breakfast or a snack! Yum and really most of it is milk and eggs which I think is good.
      I will take that tip from your Gran to score the tops of the apples so they dont split. That is a good idea thank you!
      Have a wonderful week! xxx

  2. Some more great ideas, Annabel. I just bought some apples to bake. We used to have an apple tree but fruit fly is a big problem here. I cook corned beef in the Crock Pot We love it with white sauce.

    1. So far we are very lucky and dont have fruit fly. What a bad thing they are!
      I love white sauce. Over everything from pasta to cauliflower! Yum.
      I hope you have a great week. We have some rain just now which is needed! xxx

  3. I don't always think of the crock pot but have been following your series and since it is warming up pretty fast here I got the thing out and put a meatloaf in it last night - stuck the crock part in the fridge and then set it in the pot and turned on low before we left for church, came home to lovely smell and awesome lunch! Good reminders - thanks!

    1. That was good Kathy, I think the crock pot saves a lot of heating up the house in summer, We have a lot of BBQs in the hot weather, I have been known to set the crock pot up outside and cook up potatoes or corn out there. This is really good! Many thanks! xxx

  4. Baked apples are THE best hey!? The next time you do corned beef in the slow cooker just use ginger beer and nothing else - I guarantee you will be hooked for life.

    1. Really? This is really interesting! I will try it Phil thanks! I know my husband would like that flavor. Thank you for this tip! xxx

  5. Thank you for this very helpful post Annabel.

    I never thought of baking apples in the crock pot. I think they would be nice served with custard. I am going to try this tomorrow as I have heaps of apples left over from the ones mum gave me. I have cooked quinces overnight and they turned out delicious, why would apples be any different lol!

    I cook corned beef in my crockpot and use the leftovers for making corned beef fritters. Yum!! I prefer the fritters to the actual corn beef meal. Have you tried them Annabel? I freeze the leftover corned beef and take out later for making into fritters.

    If you get enough pears, give this recipe a try, it is a favourite in this house. I am not sure if it is able to be cooked in the crockpot though, but probably because most things can be. I make in tin trays and they can be frozen or sent to work with hubby for a delicious dessert.


    1. Dear Tania, I have not made corned beef fritters! I think I better give this a try! Thank you.
      Also thank you for the pear recipe. I have had a look and I think it would cook in the crockpot and develop that sticky caramel colour. I will give it a go as pears are quite cheap now. Also I think I will like the blog this recipe is on!
      The corned beef was very handy today and already in rolls made up for tomorrow. Very handy.
      I forgot to say Re what we were talking about... I really love the name you chose. I realized I didnt tell you that.
      Hope you might had got a little rain, it has been slow but steady today here. With love,

    2. I think you will love the fritters Annabel, here is the recipe I use.

      And yes Just like my Nan made is a great site, there is a yummy slow cooker corn beef recipe on there too. It is the one I use. NellyMary doesn't post anymore, but there are some goodies on her site.

      We had 23mm of slow and soaking rain, just lovely :)

      You wouldn't believe how long it took me to choose that name lol! Glad to hear you like it.


  6. My handmaidens, the bread machine, washer and dryer, are all working right now. So thankful for all of them.

    I cooked a whole chicken in the crockpot one night last week when 4 grands were here for supper. I planned to naked chicken salad with the leftovers but they liked it so much, there was none left. It was easy, healthy and a crowd pleaser :).

  7. Our pumpkin soup was wonderful last night - nice and thick as my husband likes it. I made that in the slow cooker on Sunday so it was something to look forward to.

    Sunday night we had left over beef pot roast with regular baked vegetables, we always buy a larger piece of meat than needed then slice it up once cooked and pop it in the freezer for another roast another night or if there is not quite enough we have hot roast sandwiches.

    I am a morning person so the slow cooker is a great help in that regard.

    I have a couple of slow cooker books that I decided to take to bed to read last night - started at the back for desserts but came across how to cook rice in the slow cooker and also turn tins of condensed milk into caramel.

    Think I did the caramel some years ago but not the rice - will have to give that a go because I like to have rice on hand in the freezer - it makes for an easy meal or side.

    We haven't had corned beef in ages, haven't seen it at a good price so will be on the lookout for it. Last year it seemed to be on the menu once a fortnight.

    I switched from cooking it on the stove top when my big pot never made it here, it is still in storage. I wasn't going to go and buy another pot when I had my slowcooker.

    My mother in law usually has a piece of corned silverside in her 'fridge - she has found it handy when the family have dropped in, sandwiches, cold meat and salad or hot vegetables just to name a few things that I know what she uses it for.

    I am continuing with my pantry clean out today - lunch is already made, just needs to be heated up so I should get it finished today - that is unless my husband has been putting things away in the wrong container again.

    Hope to get some more slow cooker reading done today as well.


    1. Dear Lynette, Would you please let me know how the rice goes as I have not done this? also the method if it works! I do the same, I cook up a heap of rice, usually Mimis method, then divide it into portions and freeze. This way I only cook rice now and then. It is so handy!
      I have made the caramel that way. You can buy tins of the caramel now but it is not as nice as the ones you do yourself, I dont know why but its not the same! You have me thinking of banana cream caramel pie!
      It is so good to get everything going in the morning. Whatever happens during the day this is like insurance! So often I am thankful for what I did earlier!
      I love the sound of hot roast sandwiches. What a good idea!
      Lots of love,

    2. I will let you know how it goes when I try cooking the rice in the slow cooker.

      I came across a recipe for macaroni cheese in the slow cooker that I am going to try as well - not usually on our menu but I am thinking it might be worth giving it a go as a 'comfort food' for when I get home post surgery so will do this the day before with fingers crossed and another for chocolate zucchini cake which I am going to make later in the week - it can cook while I am doing something else.


  8. We love corned beef here and have it at least once a fortnight. I love the idea of cooking it in ginger beer. For those who have a pressure cooker; I have cooked corned beef from a frozen rock to a melt in your mouth roast in the pressure cooker in just over an hour.
    Last night we had curry in the slow cooker and towards the end, in place of the lid I put a dinner plate (which fits perfectly on my slow cooker) with a tiny amount of water and some broccoli florets, then another plate over the top (upside down) of that, then the cooked naan bread, covered with a small bowl. I was making the most of that heat! I often pop plates under the lid for the last 20 minutes or so to warm them.
    I am making your sunshine cake today - yum, yum.

    1. Garden Del I am loving your idea about the plates! Brilliant! Thank you. I have done layers ie with a vegetable on top and used baking paper layers.
      That cake is lovely. It is the nicest colour too, it is cheerful!
      Many thanks! xxx

  9. Annabel, another lovely post! Those apples look soooo yummy!!!! I haven't baked apples in years. Will have to try that in "apple" season. :) However, they will go in the slow cooker and extras for breakfast! lol

    The corned beef also looks delicious. I haven't had one in years. They seem to be expensive but I will look for a sale. And I never knew that is how pastrami is made. Wow! I learned a lot.

    Thank you, again, Annabel! Love, Teri

    1. Thank you Teri! Our seasons our out of sync of course but later when you have apples you will like this Im sure!
      Im glad to heave helped you with anything as I feel you are much further advanced than me pantry wise and preserving wise!
      But each thing we learn is helpful.
      We had a roast chicken for dinner last night so the carcass and vegies have been on all day making some almost free stock. It is smelling pretty good too! Hope you are having a good week. xxxx

  10. Thank you Annabel, it is so refreshing to learn a new way to make cooking easier. The apples look delicious!

    1. Thank you! The more you learn on this and the more you use your crock pot the easier life gets. It is a true helper! xxx


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