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.

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Sunday 26 July 2015

Crock pot cooking. Vegies and sides.

In the summer we have a lot of BBQ's, in fact often every night. It keeps the heat out of the house if I want to cook something. I also use the crock pot lots. I am just not going to turn the oven on in the heat!

One handy use of the crock pot especially when I am having visitors is to fill it with potatoes and let them go all day on low. Then in the evening they can be served with whatever is on the BBQ or made into a quick potato salad. I love warm potato salad so this only means throwing over a handful of chopped onion, some mayo and herbs. It looks wonderful too. This has a lot of food ready to go and is really filling.

Other possibilities are filling the crock pot with corn on the cob. At serving time I just put them all into a serving dish, add dobs of butter and sprinkle with pepper. It is yum and so very easy.

If I have a pie thawing for dinner or meat to cook I might put a mix of vegies in the crock pot to be ready when I need them.  Mainly to make the evening easy if I know I will be in late. It is just done!

Other really good crock pot vegies are potato bake. The easiest one I do is Hilde's recipe. Grease the crock pot. Fill with sliced potato, sprinkle with dried french onion soup mix (about half a packet for a large potato bake) and pour over a small carton of cream or half a tin of evaporated milk. Let cook all afternoon. This is yummy.

Another is to cook a whole cauliflower. If it won't fit then cut it up into big bits. I sprinkle it with grated cheese and pepper in the last hour or so.

In all of these vegie dishes I would put about two tablespoons of water in the crock pot first. That's it.

However you could fill your crock pot with carrots and pour over some honey for honey glazed carrots.
Or fill it with baby onions. Or half baby butternuts and serve them along side a roast. Or fill with carrots and parsnips and drizzle with a balsamic glaze. It is just endless! When you are feeding a crowd a big serving of something like this just makes it so easy.
For the family a crock pot full of vegies will make you meat portions go a long way. Any left over vegies could become a soup. Left over onion, pumpkin, sweet potato etc become pizza topping.

BBQ nights are really easy nights! If Andy cooks the meat I will bring out corn on the cob, potatoes, honey carrots etc that have all been cooking and there is basically nothing to do but serve them in the evening. I really like those days!

So think of any side dish that you really love and seldom actually do. Pop it into the crock pot in the morning instead!  Growing up my favorite vegetable dishes were bakes ie Nan's tomato bake, scalloped potatoes, cauliflower cheese, baked baby onions.... all of these are perfect for crock pot cooking and they produce so much good food!

This is just another way my crock pot is wonderful. Winter or summer it is a help. So many times I have something that is a potential meal (ie a meat pie from the freezer) and I will think to put on some potatoes and carrots or something to go with it. This turns my little meal into a big healthy feast usually for very little.

Writing this up has made me think of making some kind of vegetable bake for tonight as it is cold and wintery! I will see what is on special as I am shopping this morning. I would say cauliflower cheese but cauli's have been almost $8 each. So it might be Hilde's Potato Bake.

Here we are in a new week! The last few days of July! I am heading out to get as much done as possible and get my week going.  I try to run most of my errands on a Monday all at once so that I can mostly stay home later in the week. My number one enemy for getting things done is being out too much. This week I want to get some sewing done. I have a lovely little project (easy sewing) that I will feature next Monday as it is something useful and something that would make lovely gifts. Also it costs a few cents each to make!

Have a wonderful week! xxx


  1. Annabel do the vegies go on at lunchtime or earlier? On high or low? Sorry to ask so many questions but while I am intuitive with other cooking methods I 'm not sure with the crockpot.

    1. Dear Barb, I have a big crock pot and do big amounts of things. Lighter vegies and smaller cut up sizes I might put on mid afternoon on hight then turn down later. Big baked potatoes etc I would put on before lunch. Crock pot sizes vary so much plus the amount you put in etc. You will become intuitive about this once you have tried a few things, you will get the hang of the timing. Plus it's very forgiving, i err on the side of having things cooked too soon and turning them off as they will stay warm ages, rather than not cooked enough. older crock pots seem slower too, new ones seem to have a bit higher temperature. That isn't hugely helpful! Try something simple one afternoon you are going to be busy and then you will be able to work out your timings quite well. Good luck! Love

  2. Dear Annabel,

    Great idea for the vegetables. The potatoes look delicious!!
    Have a great week. Hope you got the shopping done today. I don't like going out either as it really cuts into getting things done around the house.

    Love and hugs,

    1. Dear Glenda,
      We are on the same page with wanting to get stuff done at home! Things get away from me fast if I am out too much and I pay the price.
      I did my rushing around yesterday and errands done. It was a good start to the week though. I hope you have a good week too! Lots of love,

  3. This is such a clever idea Annabel. How many of us store the crockpot in the warmer months, figuring that it's a Winter utensil? I know I do! I love the idea of the corn on the cob and potato bake. Genius! Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi,
      Good old corn on the cob is surprisingly delicious and people seem to love it... its like a thing of the past no one does much anymore or something and when you do that think its fabulous. Yet there is basically no effort! And it is also amazingly filling. I was amazed myself over this one.
      Have a great week! With love,

  4. Lots of good ideas! We are in the midst of summer and I work really hard at not turning on the oven!

    1. Dear Kathy,
      We have really hot summers. I do the same, the oven is the last thing we need on.
      I notice my power bill is way down too after a quarter of hardly using the oven too.
      Also I will cook a chicken or other meat in the crock pot then use it as cold meat over the next couple of days with salads etc.
      We are currently coping with the cold and I am starting to look forward to spring! Many thanks, love

  5. I will have to have an experiment in my smaller slow cooker or in the larger one cooking different things in baskets. This would so be handy for potato salad or having a potato "bar" having them cook in the slow cooker! Thanks Annabel. You have so many brilliant time saving ideas! xoxo

    1. Dear Kaye,
      The idea to cook big potatoes and let everyone fill them with various fillings is a really good way to feed a heap of people. Also left over spaghetti bol works this way, plus cheese of course!
      Summer or winter this one is a goodie. Have a great week! With love,

  6. Yowsers $8 for a cauliflower! I'd be crying Annabel if I saw them that price. I haven't been out since last Friday afternoon when I took Mum to a doctor's appointment and I'm so glad - it has been freezing cold, only 7 degrees here yesterday! And,like you, I get much more done if I'm not distracted by running in and out.

    I use my slow cooker all year round too, it's my favourite kitchen appliance, but I'v never made potato bake in it. A really nice potato bake is to use sweet potato and white potato and finely sliced onion and alternate the slices - looks very pretty when it's cut into squares to serve.

    I used to use cheese & leek soup mixed into evaporated milk (MOOed) but since it's been discontinued I use french onion soup mix too and just sprinkle the top with cheese about 20 minutes before the end of cooking to give it time to melt. I've been known to add finely chopped broccoli and cauliflower to potato bake too. My family loves potato bake, they'd eat it every night of the week if I let them.

    Hope you get all your shopping done and can stay home where it's warm and cosy and get your sewing project done - I'm intrigued :).

    1. Dear Cath,
      I love sweet potato. Mum makes a bake from it that is a favorite.
      Bacon is a big potato bake add on around here. But it is a versatile thing and a big filler. And easy!
      I am working on your sewing project! I cant wait to show you!
      With love,

  7. Some more great ideas, Annabel. My crock pot and I aren't getting along too well at the moment as some days it doesn't cook properly for some reason. When I first bought it it cooked differently I am sure so I am not sure what is going on. I should have kept my old orange one from the seventies :-(

    1. Nanna Chel test it. Half fill it with cold water in the morning. At dinner this should be on a slow boil. If not ditch it. That is how I test an op shop one or garage sale one. It seems to work... There maybe something wrong... I love the old orange one! Xxx

  8. Hi Annabel,

    I'm finding your series on the crockpot very inspiring. I've only ever tried to use a crockpot once, and it was a total fail ... it now lives elsewhere!! You're making me think I need to either retrieve said crockpot or purchase a new one :-)

    I don't think I gave it a fair go.

    1. Dear Janine, i know it's frustrating having a fail but it is like anything, the first time we use a stove, or sewing machine or anything really we are not usually good at it. But in a few goes we get the hang of it and away we go. It's really is the most wonderful help. Soups are a great start as they basically can't go wrong... but each of my posts is easy things I just do all the time. They are also pretty cheap now but also h
      I have picked them up in op shops and garage sales. I kind of collect! Thanks for commenting and good luck! Love

  9. Dear Annabel, after reading this, I got straight up and made the potatoes from Hilde's recipe. I wasn't sure of the temperature either, but I used High for 2-3 hours.
    They are delicious. Thank you so much for the lovely suggestions.
    Love Helen xxx

    1. Dear Helen,
      All Hildes recipes are easy and fast and fantastic. I re heat potato bake so often will make way more than I need as it can appear another night. This is so simple and good! Im glad you loved it! With love,

  10. Fabulous ideas! Don't we just love this devoted hanaiden, the Crock Pot Slow Cooker?!?!

    Hugs from Singapore,

    1. Thanks Kelley! You're in Singapore! I love Singapore...
      I went to little India there and it was amazing... years ago! With love

  11. I am amazed at all the things you cook. You know so much about cooking and putting things together. Wish I were that "cooking literate".
    Hard to believe it is so cold where you are when it is in the 90's here in East Texas.
    Enjoy your blog--look forward to each new post. Blessings, Sharon D.

    1. Dear Sharon,
      Thank you very much!
      Sharon I stick to simple things. I cannot be bothered with complicated recipes. And I stick to real food and what is good prices. And probably I started with what Mum and Nan made and added on.
      Yes it is cold and rainy here today! I am beginning to look forward to spring!
      Thank you! With love,

  12. Annabel, Thank you for more great information about slow cooking! I do "baked" potatoes sometimes, but never thought about a warm potato salad! Another idea for my notebook. :)

    Hilde's potato bake sounds so yummy. Will try that soon. I also use my slow cooker all year. Yummy soups, stews, chili in winter and just keeping the kitchen cool in summer plus it cooks while I do other things! :)

    I, too, am intrigued to see your sewing project. I love how crafty you are. Have a wonderful week. Love, Teri

    1. Dear Teri,
      For warm potatoes salad sometimes I use whole baby potatoes, other times I will cut up larger ones. At the very end over the dressing I throw fresh chopped up parsley or chives. It looks and tastes really good. Thats a crowd pleaser!
      I hope you have a great week! I got a good start yesterday it was a really busy day! With love, Annabel.xxxx

  13. Annabel,
    I love my crock pots! I have a few different sized ones and I use them all. If I have a large roast I put it on before I go to bed and turn it off in the morning and then divide it. I do corn and potatoes too except if we are not grilling I throw in some smoked sausage or kielbasa as well or if my guys are going fishing I will make hobo packets for them in the crockpot to take with them. They can be such time savers. I also do one tank trips so I can be home and not running all week. I can't wait to see your projects I am hoping to be able to start working on some holiday gifts here soon and some ideas would be very helpful!

    1. Dear Vicky, that is a great way to do cold meat. I love your ideas for fishing trips. Also I love the idea of smoked sausage.... my husband would be big on that!
      Starting on Christmas gifts is a great idea. I am going ok on this, up to gift number five.... and lots in the works.
      Have a great week, with lots of love,

  14. Annabel, please tell me about the baskets in your crockpot. Are they crockpot baskets or something you came up with on your own? I am learning so much about crockpot cooking from this series!

    1. Dear Patsy,
      These baskets were IKEA and I have another IKEA one which is a collapsable steamer that fits perfectly in my round crock pot. Old fashioned basket inserts designed for peas and beans etc work really well. In a round crock pot a bamboo steamer that fits just right can sit over the top of whats at the bottom and cook a separate layer. Keep your crock pot measurements in your purse... thats how I find inserts that fit. They are extremely handy. I like the individual sections. Many thanks! Love

  15. Annabel another informative post to your wonderful blog.

    I have 3 slow cookers, the baby one I am finding is perfect for a meal just for the two of us - today it is Apricot Chicken done my way - first time I have thrown it into the slow cooker so will be interested to see how it is when we sit down to lunch.

    Saturday the large one was on cooking the soup while we were out - we walked into the house mid afternoon to the wonderful aroma of the soup - wonderful to not have to think about what was happening for the evening meal.

    My middle sized one is the one that gets the most use as it is just the perfect size.

    Something I worked out a couple of years ago was that the slow cooker was perfect for reheating - at the time I had cooked up 2 boned legs of lamb a la Mimi's recipe in the slow cooker, let them cool and popped the sliced meat into containers ready to be taken to an event, I packed up the slow cooker (large one) and popped the meat in on low - it was warmed right through by the time we were ready to sit down and eat.

    I keep seeing your bits and pieces you use in your slow cookers and I think I am sure I have something similar that will do the trick - will have to wait until we have our things out of storage to confirm that though.

    Our weather is back to being deceptive - sun is out but the wind is quite cool.

    Have a great day everyone.


    1. Dear Lynette,
      Andy LOVES Apricot chicken and its a while since I did one. It works well in the slow cooker although I do seven hours or so and use some dried apricots.
      I agree with you about re heating. It doesnt dry things out. That can be really good... and keeping things warm too.
      Thank you for all your encouragement and support Lynette I really appreciate it.
      I hope you have a great week. It is cold and windy here. It is crochet weather, every chance I get at least!
      Lots of love, Annabel.xxxx

  16. blipping freezing here to Annabel. I'm intrigued and can't wait for the new craft project on Monday. Not much to report here, just absorbing all your yummy goodness. Fi xxx


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