Being an adult student is hard. Not only do we have to put a large amount of effort into our studies, but many of us come home after a long day at school and need to feed ourselves. Getting home at 7 p.m. to an empty kitchen does not generally end with healthy decision making. It usually lends itself to eating popcorn or toast for dinner.
Well, the days of eating five granola bars to sustain yourself are gone. All you need to do is invest in a slow cooker—the most famous one, of course, being the Crock-Pot. Because they’re widely available at Goodwill or Costco, buying a slow cooker does not need to break the bank. It will, however, break the endless cycle of sad dinners.
Not only do slow cooker dinners allow you to eat better, they also save you time and energy. The average slow cooker uses the same amount of energy as a light bulb, allowing you to cook and tenderize your meals for hours without feeling guilty.
There are tons of recipes for slow cookers; the opportunities end only with your imagination. You can put your ingredients together the night before or the morning of, turn it on, and come home to a delicious meal, hot and ready to eat.
Some slow cooker favourites are things like chili and spaghetti, but you can also spice things up by making shredded barbecue pork, shredded chicken tacos, and many kinds of soups and stews.
IRISH BREW STEW
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 4–6 hours
900 g beef stewing meat, cubed salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup flour
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup cooking onion, diced
4 yellow waxy potatoes, cut in large cubes
2 medium carrots, cut in large chunks
½ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 small clove garlic, chopped
1 cube beef bouillon, dissolved in one cup of boiling water
1 bottle beer (the darker the better)
1 cup frozen green peas
Turn on slow cooker. Salt and pepper the beef to taste, then coat in flour. Heat a frying pan to medium-high heat. Once hot, add half the oil and the onions, brown, and add to slow cooker.
Add the rest of the oil to the frying pan and brown the meat in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan, otherwise the meat will become soupy.
Add the meat to the slow cooker, along with the potatoes, carrots, herbs, and garlic. Mix. Pour in the beef stock and beer, and mix again. Put on the slow cooker’s lid and do not remove until cooked. This preserves the liquid in the stew and enhances the flavour.
Cook on high for four to five hours, or on low for at least six hours. When ready to serve, microwave the peas on high for two minutes and mix into the stew. Serve.
To make the stew gluten-free, use a dark gluten-free beer and substitute flour for cornstarch.
Photography by Lydia Fleming.