My favorite meals are ones that are flexible enough to incorporate whatever we have on hand as well as incorporating whatever might be on sale at the grocery store or at the farmers market. This way, we minimize the food we waste while also taking advantage of sales, minimizing our food costs.
At the same time, convenience is a need for us, too. We have hectic schedules at times and there are certainly evenings where it’s wonderful to come home to a meal made from fresh ingredients that’s pretty much ready to serve.
This meal manages to accomplish both ends at the same time.
What You Need
For an ordinary batch of this, you need about four cups of vegetables. The vegetables you use are up to you – green beans, carrots, potatoes, celery, peas, onions, shallots, asparagus, and countless other things work just fine in this dish.
You’ll also need a cup of cooked meat or other protein. We often use beans for this, but you can use chicken, beef, or anything else that excites you.
For the sauce, you’ll need 1 1/4 cups water or vegetable stock, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper. These will all be mixed together at the appropriate time.
For the dumplings, you need 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons margarine (or butter), and 1 cup milk (you can certainly use soy milk or flax milk here). Alternately, you could just use 2 1/4 cups of a baking mix (such as Bisquick) and 2/3 cup milk (soy milk or flax milk work as substitutes here).
The Night Before (or Early That Day)
In the morning, put all of the vegetables into the crock pot, then make the liquid by mixing together 1 1/4 cups water or vegetable stock, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper.
Mix the liquid in with the vegetables and cook on high for 2 hours or on low for 4 hours (see the note below if you have to let it run all day).
Preparing the Meal
About two to three hours before you wish to eat, make the dumplings.
If you’re making them from scratch, slowly mix together 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 teaspoon baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons margarine, and 1 cup milk, adding the solid ingredients one at a time, then adding the liquid ingredients slowly. The margarine should make the mixture form clumps and the milk should make it all very moist. Alternately, you can use the baking mix suggestion noted above.
Form the dumpling mix into about ten small balls, then place them on top of the vegetable mix.
Cook this on low in the slow cooker for another two to three hours and you’re done.
If you have to leave this all day, make everything in advance, add an extra 1/2 cup of liquid to the vegetables before you add the dumplings, splash some additional liquid on top of the dumplings, and cook it on low all day.
We served this meal with strawberries fresh from our garden.
This meal is incredibly flexible. Use whatever vegetables you have on hand or are on sale for your primary vegetables. Use beans, poultry, beef, or other sensible meats for the protein. This meal truly comes together based on what you have on hand.