One of the most fantastic time and money saving devices I have ever discovered is my slow cooker. Just like the pressure cooker that I use on my stove top, on days that I really just don’t want to cook, tossing a few ingredients into the slow cooker before setting about on my daily tasks is extremely appealing and can guarantee dinner on the table during nights I would be severely tempted to go out.
Beyond that though, I feel like these machines are severely under appreciated for what they can do. Most people, for example, only associate slow cookers with chilli, pot roast (if they’re omnivorous that is), and bland, overcooked soup. There is so much more that you can do with a slow cooker!
For just under $50 for a decent sized cooker, you have a machine that can prep beans overnight so you don’t have to worry about them, cook steel cut oats overnight with fruit so you have a fantastic breakfast in the morning, keep food warm for a potluck so you know you’ll have a vegan option, and make sure dinner will be on the table when you get home from a rough day’s work. I’ve even used it to make a homemade boullion for when I don’t feel like making broth, and you can even make broth in them too!
Slow cookers actually helped get me into cooking. The ease of use really helped me explore a wide range of different flavors. Below is a delicious dish to get you started. It uses either soy curls (I get them from Butler and really like their texture) or TVP chunks and relatively easy to find, inexpensive ingredients to bring together a fantastic stir fry.
Kung Bao Beefy TVP
- 2 cups tvp chunks or Butler Soy Curls
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into strips
- 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
- 3 carrots, diagonally sliced
- 2 stalks celery, diagonally sliced
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1.5 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 1/2 cups veggie broth
- 1/4 cup + 1/3 cup Braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce, divided
- 1-2 tsp black bean chili sauce or sriracha
- 2-3 tbsp corn starch
- 1-2 scallions, including green parts, chopped
- 2 tbsp chopped peanuts
- Brown rice, for serving
- Combine the tvp chunks in a large bowl with 2 cups boiling water and 1/3 cup soy sauce, stir and let reconstitute for 10 minutes. Drain. Roughly chop the soy curls/tvp chunks into 1 inch pieces.
- Whisk together the garlic, ginger, veggie broth, chilli paste, and 1/4 cup soy sauce. Pour into the bottom of the cooker.
- Place the bell pepper, chopped tvp chunks, water chestnuts, carrots, celery, and mushrooms in the cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, whisk corn starch into 3 tbsp water, then stir into the cooker along with the sesame oil. Turn up to high and let the sauce thicken.
- Serve over rice and sprinkle with scallions and peanuts. Makes 4-6 servings