by Zanni Arnot
You wouldn’t call me a Susie home-maker. I have a bunch of Country Style magazines kicking around – inspiration. But they are buried beneath a layer of toys and other child-related paraphernalia. Technically speaking, when children are in bed, I could whip around the house, organising and ordering my life in preparation for tomorrow’s shambles, but I don’t. I jump on the computer instead and write, itching to get the day’s thoughts down.
And during the day, there is just not enough time to get it all done. I’ll fold a nappy – yes, one nappy, and then be called away from my monumental pile of laundry by one of the two little darlings. Or both of the little darlings, and by the time I get back to the laundry, I think my time is better spent checking Facebook, or making a phone call, or something social and human.
I have always loved cooking, and in theory, this could be the one chance for susie home-maker to shine. But, my husband is more Susie than me, and is good with a chopping knife. He needs to be creative, he loves it…I am not arguing. He can cook. Every night. And wash up. And he does. And yes, I know, I’m lucky.
But he can’t always be there, so when he’s not, I have a Go To. A one dish, ten-minute meal, which could theoretically be any meat, any vegetable, any flavour. It’s my magic dish. My römertopf.
We picked it up from a tarp at the Mullumbimby market one Saturday for $5. My Dutch husband’s family used to use one when he was young.
All you need to do is soak it in cold water while chopping vegetables, layer the vegetables and meat, season with desired seasoning, and put it into a cold oven. It then slow cooks.
I love this, because I can prepare the meal at any stage in the day, put it in the oven, and it’s ready when we need it. This means I can get children out of the house during witching hour, and go for a walk or go to the play park before dinner.
Since becoming a mother, the römertopf is my cooking dream.
The römertopf is earthenware, designed for natural cooking. No oils or grease are required. The food cooks in its own juices. The Romans used clay pots in fire for cooking.
Lamb and vegetable Römertopf.
3 lamb forequarter chops
One brown onion, sliced
¼ cabbage, sliced
½ tsp salt
Pepper to taste
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp paprika
3 cloves of garlic
- Soak römertopf. in cold water for ten minutes. Drain water, and layer onion and cabbage, then lamb. Season lamb with spices, salt and pepper. Arrange tomatoes and mushrooms on top.
- Cover with lid. Place in a cold oven, then turn to 160 degrees C. Cook for 1.5 hours or more. The longer it cooks, the softer the meat will become. You can leave it in the oven, covered, with the oven off for 1 – 2 hours and it will remain hot.
- Serve over couscous. I use the juices from the römertopf to soak the couscous.