Lisa Abraham

The slow cooker is a godsend for busy families.

With the start of a new school year and the activities it adds to busy schedules, the slow cooker can mean the difference between a real, sit-down dinner and a cruise through a drive-thru window.

For home-style inspiration, Kendra Bailey Morris has released her new book, The Southern Slow Cooker: Big Flavor, Low-Fuss Recipes for Comfort Food Classics ($19.99, paperback, Ten Speed Press).

You donít have to be a southerner to enjoy hearty, family-friendly dishes like this recipe that combines the flavors of fall with cabbage, apples and smoked sausage.

CABBAGE WITH SMOKED

SAUSAGE AND APPLES

1 head green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 onion, chopped

2 small (or 1 large) Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped

1 tsp. bacon grease (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

4 juniper berries, lightly crushed

3 tbsp. cider vinegar

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tbsp. whole grain mustard

Generous pinch of caraway seeds

1 lb. smoked sausage links, cut in half (see note)

Salt and black pepper

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray.

Add the cabbage, onion, apples, bacon grease, garlic, bay leaf, juniper berries, cider vinegar, brown sugar, mustard and caraway to the slow cooker. Stir well. Nestle the sausage pieces in the cabbage mixture, so they donít dry out. Cover and cook on low, stirring the cabbage mixture every now and then, for at least 6 hours and up to 8 hours.

Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Note: If you canít find sausage links, simply cut bulk sausage into 2- to 3-inch pieces.

Lisa Abraham can be reached at 330-996-3737 or at labraham@thebeaconjournal.com. Find me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @akronfoodie or visit my blog at www.ohio.com/blogs/lisa.