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Sunday, October 25, 2009

BloggerAid-CFF~ View & Review: Slow Cooker Comfort Food

I feel like I should give you fair warning. This may very well be the longest post in the history of the world. Seriously. But everything in it...I needed here! If you know me at know that I love photos. I need to show you photos. I tried really did to do this post without all of the photos, but there was just something tugging at me inside...willing me to add the photos. I did.

No apologies...just fair warning. But as far as subject matter for incredibly long posts goes...I think that BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine is one that deserves a little extra wind. You probably know that I am a member of BA-CFF (just smile and nod) I have 3 things related to this fact to share with you today.

The first thing is a fun program we have within BA-CFF called View & Review. Thanks to the generosity of different publishers and food purveyors, our members are given the chance to, well, view a certain cookbook or food product and then give our review of that product. Obvious, but I'm tellin' ya anyway. I was the lucky recipient of the latest cookbook by Judith Finlayson, Slow Cooker Comfort Food from the publisher mdg + associates.

I must say...this is the perfect time of year to receive a slow cooker book! I did take a bit longer than I should have to post this review, and for that I want to apologize...things spiraled a bit out of control for me due to college football season at work and I ran a bit slow, if you will. Finlayson starts the book with an informative chapter about using your slow cooking. She lays out basics, time management, understanding and food safety. Believe it or not, this is really helpful. Yes, I've been using a slow cooker for years, but I don't think I ever really considered as much of a kitchen tool as I should have. Yes, I adore my mixer, baby my blender and cherish my food processor...but trusty old slow cooker just had food thrown in and forgotten. For hours. And that's the way I liked it.

I think that's why this book came as such a surprise to me. To be honest, at first I wasn't really sure if I liked it. I mean...a slow cooker means set it and forget it. Right? Not necessarily! Consider your recipe...size matters, utensils matter, time and tools matter. Finlayson lays that all out for us in this guide! She throws in tips on halving on what can be made well as things to "watch out" for and fun tidbits. I chose 3 recipes to make and share today. They are all different and none of them required "extra" equipment (like ramekins, baking dishes or basins)...because as I said...I'm easing into the whole slow cooker as an actual kitchen appliance thing.

I want things to be simple. The first 2 recipes, I'm gonna be mean and just show you'll get the idea of the basic ingredients from them...remember I'm trying to control the length of this post somewhat. I'll throw you a bone and give the recipe for my favorite of the 3 recipes, though...

The first recipe I chose was: Fruit-Spiked Chicken Curry Fruit was sweet with a wonderful spiciness sneaking up, I got to use my Homemade Curry Powder! Good, not my favorite curry...but definitely worth trying at least once.

 Next up, I made: Chile-Spiked Hominy Ragout with Collard Greens except I used spinach:This was earthy and rustic and delicious with some avocado, cilantro and crema as garnish....and it only got better with time! Next recipe up was my favorite...and the last one I made.

It was a first time making an actual slow cooker dessert:
Caramelized Apple Upside-Down Spice Cake
serves 8
~lightly greased slow cooker stoneware
~large (~5 qt.) oval slow cooker

Topping 1/4 c. (50 mL) melted butter
1/2 c. (125 mL) Demerara or other raw cane sugar
6 c. (1/5 L) sliced peeled apples, about 8 small

Cake 1 c. (250 mL) whole wheat flour
1 c. (250 mL) AP flour
2 tsp. (10 mL) baking soda
1 Tbs. (15 mL) ground ginger
1 tsp. (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1 tsp. (5 mL) ground allspice
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) ground cloves
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) salt
1/2 c. (125 mL) Demerara or other raw cane sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 c. (250 mL) apple butter
1/2 c. (125 mL) buttermilk
2 Tbs. (25 mL) molasses
1/4 c. (50 mL) oil Vanilla Ice Cream for serving Topping: In a small bowl, combine butter and sugar. Spread over bottom of prepared stoneware. Arrange apples on top. Cake: In a bowl, combine ww & AP flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and salt. Mix well and make a well in center. In another bowl, whisk together sugar and egg, then whisk in apple butter, buttermilk, molasses and oil. Pour mixture into the well and mix just until combined. Pour over apples. Place 2 tea towels, folded in half (so you have 4 layers), over top of stoneware to absorb moisture. Cover and cook on High for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until it passes the toothpick test.When read to serve, slice and invert onto a plate I inverted before slicing. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Yes, it was fabulous with vanilla ice cream.. I loved it because the cake was warm and spicy and actually not very sweet at all. It tasted more of a beautiful spice bread with a gorgeously caramelized apple topping to me!My slow cooker will definitely be making this one again! Oh, and did I mention that there are both U.S. and metric units of measurement listed throughout the book? There are. And there are still 272 more recipes in the book for me to try! If you are interested in putting that slow cooker to use for more than just simple set it and forget it recipes, I suggest you check out Slow Cooker Comfort Food! What if I served up this dish in a red cup? Would you think twice about why it was in this red cup? What if I told you that there are children who count on a red cup to give them their nourishment? BloggerAid-CFF is united with the Friends of the World Food Program to help end childhood hunger. Please read the following message from the World Food Progam...

"The “Fill the Cup” campaign aims to raise funds and awareness for WFP’s school meals program. The red cup is a symbol of hope, representing WFP’s approach to addressing child hunger. School meals often come in the form of porridge, served in a cup. WFP encourages people to “Fill the Cup” by making a donation or volunteering to help raise awareness. It costs as little as 25 cents to provide a healthy meal to a child in school; $50 will feed a child for the entire year." 

 Please visit World Food Program for more info or to find out how you can help. final may remember hearing talk about the BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine cookbook. Well, guess what!? It is almost here! We are finished...and we have a cover! BloggerAidCookBookCover
Watch for the actual release date...all proceeds from the sale of this book...written, tested, edited and photographed by your fellow foodie bloggers...will go to the School Meals Program! Please help us feed the children.