Well, this is our kitchen for now, while two very talented guys repair the rotten floor underneath our real kitchen. It’s like camping, except, OK, with electricity. There’s a microwave on the other side of the fridge and the obligatory coffee and tea station on the table in the other room. My husband was practically gleeful when he got the hotplate burner because it seems he’s always wanted one. Go figure.
Week one has been easy. Salads, chili, soup, pancakes on the electric griddle. The biggest problem is remembering to hold the plastic cups when pouring stuff in them. It’s really irritating when they skid away and you end up pouring milk on the dog’s head, not that she minds. But still.
But as the weeks stretch out, we’re going to have to get a little more creative – not grilled cheese on an ironing board creative, but something beyond sodium-laden cans of food and mini pizzas. We gladly accept the challenge. The trouble with thinking small, so dishes will cook correctly in the toaster oven, is the lack of leftovers. My husband, who takes his lunch to work every day, lives for leftovers. He’s famous in our circles for his enthusiasm for getting an extra meal out of our potlucks and dinners out. In fact, our friends sometimes give him their doggie bags, just to see the glee on his face.
So, I’ll have to blow the construction dust off the slow cooker and make some larger meals too. I can brown meat or vegetables on the hotplate and chop ingredients on the dining table. It’s all about flexibility – and leftovers. And while dinner simmers away, I can go wash the dog because she smells like sour milk.
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cassoulet
1 pound of dry navy beans
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tsps. fresh thyme (stripped off stems)
juice of one lemon
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
Place the navy beans in water and soak 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Place beans in slow cooker. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and saute the onion, garlic and carrots about five minutes, until garlic is just turning brown. Pour broth into pan and scrape up any brown bits. Pour the ingredients over the beans in the slow cooker. Add the bay leaves, parsley, rosemary and thyme. If ingredients aren’t fully covered by liquid, add some water. Cook on low for seven hours. Add lemon juice and potatoes and cook for one more hour.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan.