Thursday, September 3, 2015

Buying a slow cooker {A Three Things Thursday Post}

Dinner time would be a disaster at my house if it weren't for my slow cooker.

I know this. My family knows this. And, I'm fairly certain, you know this.

I use the sent-from-heaven appliance at least once a week, if not twice, making everything from Cuban pulled pork to marinara sauce to chili. I've tried lasagna, meatloaf and broccoli beef with mixed results. If I'm ever lost on what to make for dinner, I toss in a package of chicken and a jar/bottle of sauce (salsa, barbecue, teriyaki) and call it good.

And so does my family. Even if it's not the most delicious or inventive meal, Mark appreciates that we can eat within five minutes of me arriving home and clean-up is usually just the crock.

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My current slow cooker is a digital model that I purchased at Kohl's in a hurried lunch break shopping trip. My beloved Hamilton Beach model had a crack in the crock, and I needed one ASAP. As it was not in the budget and the appliance can be surprisingly costly, I grabbed the most affordable one I could without sacrificing size – an Elite Platinum six-quart model.

Looking back, though, I wish I would have considered a few things.

• Temperature settings and how they work. My Hamilton Beach had high, low and warm and when the timer was finished, it switched to warm. I loved this feature as I could put things in at 8 a.m., set it for 8 hours and not worry about food getting cold when I came home at 6 p.m. I'm not even sure my new slow cooker has a warm setting and turns off when the cooking is finished. I worry that food will become unsafe between that time and when I come home. I usually add more liquid and increase the cooking time to assuage my concerns.

• Stay or go or just stay? My new slow cooker has this great locking lid that makes it easy to transport, say, if I was taking it to work for a pot luck. Just one thing: I'll never take it to a pot luck. It will stay on my counter, and I don't need the lid to lock. The mechanism merely interferes with cleaning. And, me being so awesome, I require 10 tries to get the dern thing open.

• Versatility. OK, this sounds silly. A slow cooker does one thing – cooks slow. However, had I taken more time to "research" slow cookers (aka Google the crap out of them), I would have discovered that there's a casserole slow cooker. The crock is rectangular, allowing it to fit in the oven and travel cases one might already have for baking pans.

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Or there are multi-cookers that not only act as a slow cooker but pressure cooker and rice cooker. If I hadn't had the bejeebus scared out of me by my grandma, I would have a pressure cooker. But I did as she had one legit, bad ass one and I was warned that using it was an art. The work? Her amazing pot roast. This model, available at Kohl's, also has a delay start that, if it's as useful as the one on my washer, would be the best thing ever.

Now, with all of that said, my slow cooker works and that's all that truly matters as a promptly fed family is a happy family.

◊ ◊ &loz.

Do you have a slow cooker that you particularly love – or hate? And anyone try a new slow cooker recipe that must be shared?

1 comment:

  1. i have one - got it last year around the holidays. it was a crazy deal on amazon - like $25 for a pretty sweet model. but it's big, so maybe if i had done any research at all, i would have known you can get smaller ones (that said, with a family of four, maybe the big one isn't so bad after all). We do a lot of vegan indian cooking and chili, that kind of thing.