The winter chill has set in, so it's time to think about winter meals, and there's nothing better than a casserole - preferably on a wood-burning stove.
Here are some low-cost slow-cook recipes sent in by readers.
M.M. has a fantastic recipe for a dish their mum used to make. This is cheap, quick, delicious and a real family favourite.
It also freezes well, so you can make it in advance or freeze the leftovers.
Place chicken legs and/or thighs; a large tin of tomato soup; a large carrot, sliced; 10 mushrooms, chopped into chunks; a large brown onion, thinly sliced; and 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs in a casserole dish. Mix, then put on the lid. Cook in a moderate oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes.
Serve with rice and beans or peas.
Says M.M.: "Mum used to coat the chicken pieces in flour and brown them before placing them in the casserole dish. However, as a busy mum myself, I skip this step and it turns out just fine.
It's such a hearty meal, you'll all love it!"
If you can beg or borrow a slow cooker, you can make simple, delicious and cheap meals. Brown some meat (like lamb shanks or gravy beef) and onions in a frying pan, then place them in the slow cooker. Add a packet of dried tomato soup mix, some chopped tomatoes, carrots, celery and courgettes (or any vegetables you have available), and a couple of cups of water.
Stir, add herbs to taste and leave it to cook on low all day. With some pasta and a tossed salad, you have a tasty meal for a hungry family.
Here's a mince casserole that can be adapted to any family's taste: Layer in an ovenproof dish some mince (beef, lamb, hogget, pork, chicken, rabbit or possum) and a mixture of any of the following: sliced onions; grated swede; chopped carrot, kumara or pumpkin; drained tinned tomatoes; finely sliced potatoes; frozen peas, beans or corn; and odd bits of shredded cabbage or cauliflower (not broccoli - it goes a funny colour). You may like to try sprinkling sunflower or pumpkin seeds between the layers; a pinch of sage over pork, a sprinkle of rosemary over hogget or a smear of mustard or horseradish sauce over beef is very tasty.
Gently pour over the casserole a mixture of 2 cups of warm water and leftover gravy or tomato juice, salt and pepper, about a tablespoon of either tomato, Worcestershire, plum or black bean sauce and the same amount of vinegar. Put a lid on the dish or cover with tin foil and bake at 225C for 90 minutes. It's delicious with garlic bread and salad.
K.B. of Tauranga sent in this recipe for a hearty tuna casserole:
Melt 3 teaspoons' butter in a saucepan, add 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped parsley, 1/4 cup chopped onion and 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms, and saute until the onions are transparent.
Remove from the heat and add 3 dessertspoons' flour, 2 teaspoons salt and a pinch of pepper. Stir to mix.
Add 2/3 cup milk and 1 & 1/2 cups water, then return the pan to the heat and cook until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Add a cup of grated cheese and continue cooking until the cheese has melted, stirring constantly.
Cook 200g spaghetti or noodles in boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, then drain and add to the cheese sauce. Drain 1 small tin of tuna and mix it into the sauce. Pour into a casserole dish.
Mix 1/2 cup breadcrumbs with 3 dessertspoons melted butter and sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake for 30 minutes at 200C.
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Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ.