Thursday, November 17, 2011
Continuing my challenge to thoroughly get to know and use one of my cookbooks, I chose Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook for October. My goal was to get out my dusty slow cooker and actually use it!
It was not an easy goal. Slow cooking means planning ahead. There was so many nights I stared at the slow cooker, knowing if I wanted to use it the next day I had to thaw the meat. I found myself resisting the need to plan ahead. I wanted to put off the decision. But when I exerted some will power, it was a delight to prepare a meal at breakfast and enjoy the aroma for the rest of the day.
My second challenge was my actual slow cooker. I've always known my slow cooker is hotter than it should be. Often, one side of the pan would be overdone, and sometimes almost burnt. I often only used the low setting and sometimes turned the insert in the cooker halfway through the cooking time hoping it would cook evenly. Finally after having several people tell me that food should NEVER burn in a slow cooker, I decided I needed a new slow cooker.
I didn't have to look far. I had another slow cooker in the closet that we had received for a wedding gift. I rarely used it because it was "smart cooker" and because of it's large size. Our family is growing and the large size may be an asset now. I needed to learn how to use the "smart" aspect of the cooker, which meant that it would turn to warm after a specified amount of time, but it wasn't that difficult.
I didn't realize how much I was used to a cooker that was always too hot. Several times this month, I was near to meal time with food still uncooked. Twice I had to dump the ingredients into a pan on the stove to quick cook them! That definitely destroyed any benefit of using a slow cooker. But gradually I've learned to use, and almost enjoy, this slow cooker. With a little more practice, I may love it.
Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook is a hefty book full of lots of tips for using a slow cooker. The authors have a adapted a huge variety of recipes for the slow cooker, including lots of ethnic recipes. The biggest failures were the bean recipes. I was determined to find some good ways to eat dried beans. Maybe we just don't like dried beans, but I haven't found any super ways yet, besides refried beans.
Our favorite recipes were the ones with chicken such as: Caribbean jerked chicken, lemon chicken, and peking honey chicken wings - Yummy! We also enjoyed Spanish rice, tamale pie, baked apples, and chocolate peanut butter pudding cake.
I'd love to hear about your favorite slow cooker recipes. I'd like to assemble a list of our family's favorite crock pot recipes to make meal planning with a crock pot easier. Besides Not Your Mothers, I own Fix It and Forget It and Crockery Cookery. I also found some crockpot favorites in Kay's Country Cookin'. If I had a list compiled with our favorite recipes in one place, maybe my slow cooker wouldn't gather dust.
And I can't talk about recipes without sharing one!
from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook
1 lb ground beef
2 small onions, chopped
3 T chili powder
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
16 oz can stewed tomatoes
2 cups corn
14 oz can black olives
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Brown ground beef and onion. Mix all ingredients, except cheese together and pour into greased slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook on high for 10 minutes to melt cheese. Serve.