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With the cold weather, rainy (or snowy) days, and the light fading quickly on these winter afternoons…my slow cooker comes out of hiding and gets used frequently. I love this appliance for the way it helps meld flavors over the course of hours, the ease at which I can produce a dinner which looks like it took much more effort to make, and for the way the house fills with the smell of good food and greets me when I walk in after having worked a long day.
One of my absolute favorite slow cooking cookbooks is Beth Hensperger’s Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook. Hensperger has a real gift at creating modern food which also feels old-fashioned. And there is nothing quite like slow cooking to bring out the comfort food cooker in all of us. This past week we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday and I decided to make a pot roast with all the fixings for her birthday dinner. Hensperger has several pot roast recipes in her lovely book, but the one which caught my attention was on page 315-16 and called: Our Best Pot Roast with Roots. Hensperger writes:
This simple, old-fashioned pot roast is sublimely delicious: meltingly tender meat, with a rich-tasting sauce. Take the time to dice the vegetables finely (1/4 to 1/2 inch on a side), brown the meat well, and bring the water to a full boil before adding it to the crockery insert. Each of these steps plays a part in the dish’s final goodness.
This awesome recipe uses turnips, carrots, onions, and celery along with red wine to create the gravy (the roast cooks for 8-9 hours on low along with all these ingredients). In the last hour of cooking, I popped some small red potatoes and diced carrots into the oven to roast; and just before serving, I seared some fresh green beans as side dishes. We had a crusty loaf of bread and a good bottle of red wine … and I couldn’t have been more pleased with how it all came out!
I wish I could tell you I spent the time to bake a cake from scratch – but, alas, I opted to buy a pre-baked cake from my local grocery store…and you know what, it was great!