I’ve taken quite the hiatus from the blogosphere. Quite a deal has happened since I last posted. Jack is a healthy 6 month old boy with incredible curiosity and a beautiful smile. I’ve gotten a promotion at work, which really means nothing, and our unit has been incredibly busy doing all sorts of last minute taskings.
So I finally have a brand new working camera, seeing as the other one crapped out on me. After that, I seemed to have lost the motivation to continue blogging, which I think is actually for the better. Instead of posting well thought out ideas and meals, I was just posting recipes for any given recipe that I had happened to have on any given evening. I’d much rather refocus on quality posts, rather than the quantity of posts.
With that, I’ve had a few suggestions on what to start with. Some of my readers rather enjoyed the Barrack’s Cooking segments that I did, and, seeing as I only had a few, were yearning for more. Using slow cookers is a great way for soldiers, or any single person for that matter, to make meals that are not only tasty but healthier than eating out all the time. With that said, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Crock Pot cookery is always the easiest thing to do, especially without an actual kitchen to work with. So for those of you interested in this kind of approach, I’ve laid out a go-to guide for acquiring the right equipment and what kind of ingredients to look for when grocery shopping.
Let’s start with basic equipment. First thing you need is a slow cooker. Duh. There are many brands out there, each of which has different models with a variety of features. Features to look for are thermostat control with more options than just high and low, a timer function that will switch the cooker to a “warm” function after a preset time, and size. Too small of a cooker, and you’ll find it often full to the brim, which can actually increase the cooking times of recipes. But if your cooker is too large and you don’t fill it at least half way, your meal may not even cook properly. To start, I recommend a four to five quart cooker. Check out amazon.com, as they have a large selection, most with a plethora of user reviews.
Now you need some kitchen items for preparing the meals. A decent sized cutting board and a good quality chef’s knife are essential. I would consider spending at least $20-30 on your first knife, making sure to get something made with a good high carbon stainless steel that will hold an edge and be comfortable in your hand. It should go without saying to not get a knife with a “never needs sharpening” toothed edge, as that will just rip food apart. With your knife, get a basic hand held sharpener to keep an edge on it.
A sharp knife is a safe knife. After those essentials, it might not be a bad idea to get some medium sized Gladware style containers, as they are great not just for storing leftovers, but for holding your prepped ingredients before you start cooking.
One of the greatest things about preparing meals with a slow cooker is that the ingredients are typically very cheap. Staple ingredients to keep in your barracks pantry (yeah right) include dry beans, white and/or brown rice, potatoes, and low sodium chicken or vegetable stock. The stocks are great ways to add flavor to recipes when substituted for water and the starch ingredients are generally your best fillers. As for proteins, anything goes, however ground meats, large diced chicken breasts, or tough cuts are great and can be easily added to vegetarian recipes.
So, I’ve been perusing some recipes that I’d like to try out for the next couple of posts, but I doubt I’d be able to do all of them. I’ll list the ones I have in mind and hope for some feedback from my readers on which ones you’d like best to see. All the recipes here come from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann, and will be altered and adapted to best fit this blog.
- Herbed Barley and Buttermilk Soup
- Black Bean Soup
- Potato Leek Soup
- Parmesan Risotto
- Spanish Brown Rice with Spicy Sausage
- Mexican Black Beans with Pork
- Meatballs in Tomato-Wine Sauce
- Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Chickpeas
- Beef Fajitas
Don’t forget to leave some feedback, cast some votes for what you’d like to see, or even make a suggestions.