Let’s be real: colder months call for comfort food, and the salad bowl should be replaced with the king of convenient kitchen appliances: the slow cooker.
In the winter months especially, we’re served up with a lot of local fruits and veggies that can benefit from this handy dinner helper. While the summer boasts a variety of goods that can be eaten out of hand, the winter array needs a little more lovin’ from the oven. Or, perhaps, a very slow, countertop mini oven.
Our seasonal produce is destined for the crock. And with its plug-and-play appeal, you can do a bit of prep work, make your house smell amazing all day long, and serve up dinner the moment you step in the kitchen.
It’s a hard battle, me and the wintertime.
But fine. I’ll do it. I’ll say goodbye to our wonderful summer (and, mournfully, the fruits and vegetables that go with it). But I’ll welcome the world of winter produce with (slightly) open arms to my dinner table and, more importantly, my slow cooker—and I recommend you do, too.
Here’s the simplest one to get you started. Served on toast (a variation of my Wholesome Flax Bread, swapping a few flours and topping with quinoa flakes) with sunflower seed butter.
Simple No Sugar Apple Butter
Looking for a sweet treat to spread on your piece of toast? Consider homemade apple butter instead of jam or jelly. I love it combined with almond or peanut butter on fresh-from-the-oven bread… or topped on vanilla coconut milk ice cream.
Makes about 3 to 4 cups, depending on thickness.
11 to 12 sweet-tart apples, such as Mutsu (my favourite!), cut into small chunks
2 cups apple cider
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker. Mix to combine. Cook on high for 4 hours. Reduce the temperature to low for 2 hours. Remove the lid and use an immersion blender to purée until smooth. Continue cooking, uncovered, stirring infrequently, for an additional 5 to 8 hours until very thick.