I notice Robert Dyas, the ironmongers, are selling slow cookers at half price. Well, that’s what the poster in the window says but I can only find them slashed from £29.99 to £19.99 (for a 3.5 litre capacity Crock Pot – see their website for full details). Still, that’s a £10 saving. It got me thinking about my trusty slow cooker recipes. Baked apples obviously at this time of year (Bramleys are on offer at 8 for £3 at Waitrose, so that would serve 8 people with a bit of sugar, butter, cinnamon and raisins) but also savoury bakes and stews. I recently inaugurated my new, completely original, odd-but-great Beetroot Shepherd’s Pie. Just replace the tinned tomatoes in the meat mixture with raw grated (thoroughly washed and trimmed but unpeeled) beetroot and cook it down. If you think about it, both tomatoes and beetroot are sweet vegetables (OK tomatoes are fruits) and they cook down to a mush. The result was great – the kids and au pair even ate it. Add a couple of beef stock cubes to the mince mixture to boost the savoury flavour though, otherwise it can get too sweet. I could give a recipe but seriously, just take a standard Shepherd’s Pie recipe and substitute beetroot. Ditto lasagne or any of the tomatoey, saucey oven-bake type recipes.