Ethical Cookerstore?

Lunchtimes in our office have seemed a little tame recently.  Following the success of the recent Ethical SOUPerstore challenge, when a number of us demonstrated it was possible to beat the credit crunch by sharing a tasty and ethical lunch, we’ve been developing a culinary itch we just had to scratch.  But how?
Enter the Morphy Richards Ecolectric Slow Cooker.

Slow cooking has much to recommend it
•    Convenient – fits a busy lifestyle, put all you ingredients in that morning and come home to a delicious meal in the evening.
•    Flavoursome – Slow cooked food is cooked in its own juices fully absorbing all flavours.
•    Economical – Low levels of energy are used to power a slow cooker.
•    Versatile – Cook everything from curry, soup, chowder, casserole and even desserts.

Environmentally, slow cooking has advantages too – slow cookers use low levels of energy, making them economical to run (rather than heating a large conventional oven). Better still the Morphy Richards claim that this Ecolectric Slow Cooker uses up to 44% less energy than other slow cookers on the market.

So four of us have got together to give it a thorough trial. . .

As with the soup challenge we’ve drawn inspiration from ‘Come Dine With Me’, and the dish of the week will be announced after all of us taking part have rated each other’s creations based upon taste, value for money and ethical credentials.

I was first to cook, as a novice at slow cooking, I was fairly pleased with how my vegan chilli turned out, after a disastrous ‘dress rehearsal’ at the weekend.  I now have learned an extremely valuable lesson – ‘If adapting an existing recipe from conventional cooking, you may need to cut down on the amount of liquid used. Liquid will not evaporate from the slow cooker to the same extent as with conventional cooking.’
Better make that two valuable lessons – it’s best to read the instructions first.

Anyway, lessons learnt, here’s my recipe for Lazy Three Bean Chilli;
It’s suitable for Vegans, though vegetarians can add a touch of soured cream or grated cheese if desired. I did grate some vegan friendly Dark Chocolate to boost flavour but no one gave this a try this lunchtime.

1 x large organic carrot grated
2 x medium organic peppers (I used one green and one yellow just to add colour)
1 x medium organic onion
1 x 400g tin of organic kidney beans
1 x 400g tin of organic butter beans
1 x 400g tin of organic blackeye beans
1 x 400g tin of organic chopped tomatoes
1 x 690g Jar of organic Passata
1 tsp organic chilli powder
1 tsp organic cumin powder
2 x gloves of garlic
1 dash of vegan red wine (optional)

Chop the onion extremely finely (if the onion is chopped roughly it will require sautéing ) and grate the carrot. Chop the pepper.
Open the beans and rinse, then add to the onion, pepper and carrot. Add spices and mix before adding the passata and chopped tomatoes (drain off some of the tomato juice before adding).
If you have some available add a liberal dash of red wine.
Stir well, add the lid and cook on a medium heat for 5½  hours.
It’s now ready to serve.
As I wanted a simple one pot dish – I served with tortilla chips rather than rice – but I’m sure it’ll work well with rice if you have the inclination.

Serves 6 at a cost of just £1.50 per person. (That includes tortilla chips but not the wine, chilli or cumin)

We’ll keep you posted throughout the week with how the challenge progresses, you can also check out pictures from each day on our flickr page.

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