Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Slow Cooking

I bought a slow cooker. Actually, I already owned one. My aunt gave me one as a bridal shower gift. A huge, Rival, 7 quart, oval beast of a slow cooker that she purchased thinking it was the perfect size to hold a roast. And it is.
I kept it, not thinking I would ever use it but I can't just throw that thing away. But I wanted a slow cooker that was more a size I could use. So I purchased a Hamilton-Beach 3-in-1 Slow Cooker. I guess because I like hyphens so much.
It's a heating base that has three different bowls that come with it. A two quart, a four quart and a six quart bowl.

The Pros:
It only cost $30 ish dollars and I have three slow cookers.
No matter what size slow cooker the recipe calls for, I have it!
Slow cooking is awesome (more on that later)
The bowl is removable thus making cleanup a snap.

The Cons:
There is no built in timer
There is no automatic 'keep warm' setting after cooking is finished
The cooking base automatically selects the six quart size if, after switching on, a different size is not chosen
When using the six quart size, it can only be filled up about half way, MAYBE a little more, because the base only comes up so high and thus can only cook the food that is as high as it can reach. So, when I'm making a full six quarts of something, I need to use the 7 quart slow cooker from my aunt to ensure the food will all cook.

The results:
I LOVE slow cooking! I used to be afraid a fire would start when I was away from home but I suppose my love of a home-cooked meal overrides my fear of fire. I bought a timer to program the slow cooker on and off. Because there is no automatic 'keep warm' setting, I have to set the slow cooker to cook and, after it is done, switch off for about 30 minutes, switch back on for about 30 minutes, and so on and so forth until I get home. It's not as hard to program the timer as I thought it would be so it's not so bad. One problem unique to the Hamilton-Beach 3-in-1 Slow Cooker is that, when programming it to switch on after I leave the house, the base requires me to push a button when it clicks on to select which bowl size I'm using. Hard to do when I'm not at home. So, my solution is to wedge an Altoids box between the wall and the base on top of the correct button, so that the button is depressed, thus selecting that button as soon as the base clicks on.

Aside from the mechanics of it, I have to say, it's wonderful to ride my bike home in the freezing cold...okay THAT part isn't wonderful but the walking in the front door and smelling delicious food waiting for me is! It's even nice, during the day to look up at the clock and think, "My dinner is starting/cooking/finishing, now!". Slow Cooking is pretty easy: Easy prep, easy clean up. Many slow cooking recipes either require (or should!) browning veggies ahead of time which TECHNICALLY declassifies it from a 'one pot meal'. But it's worth the extra 10 minutes. Trust me.

Overall, it's perfect for me. I have lots of extra time in the mornings and get to come home to a ready meal. And since I'm the type that wants to eat RIGHT NOW when I get home, it helps stop me from eating a lot of junk while I make dinner.

Survey says: Buy a slow cooker!

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