- Food and Cooking
Taking it Easy with the Crock-Pot Slow Cooker
I see them all the time, but it's usually around Christmas that they really start ramping it up. The advertisements, featuring hapless, bumbling, foolish men who are in the dog house for committing that most terrible of crimes. They bought their wives
appliances as gifts.
In our early years together, whenever I saw one of these commercials, I made sure to turn to my husband and tell him that the best gifts he could ever get for me was useful stuff, like kitchen appliances. Or tools. Or a vacuum cleaner. Jewelry would be wasted on me, as I wear it so rarely. Fragrances are very personal and difficult to purchase as gifts. Flowers fade and die. But a food processor or a blender? I'm in heaven!
Of all the appliances I've had over the years, one of the most useful of all has been my slow cooker. This is a tool I started using just a few years ago, after hearing so many people wax poetic about theirs, and I can't recommend it enough. A slow cooker is a great way to save time and money. There's something wonderful about waking to the delicious smells of breakfast, hot and ready to eat, or coming home after a long day to a delicious stew or some Use Watcha Got Soup, waiting for you. Being able to have something safely cooking while you are away or busy, needing little to no attention as it's being cooked, is a huge advantage. I use mine often enough that it's pretty much a permanent fixture on my counter.
Recently, after an unfortunate accident, I had to replace my slow cooker and this is the one I got. It's actually the same brand and size as the one I was replacing. I love this bigger size, as we are a household of 6, but even when there was just the 4 of us, I liked to use it to make enough for a couple of meals. Extra can always be packaged up in individual serving sizes for handy lunches or to put into the freezer.
The major difference from our previous slow cooker is in the controls. My old one had pre-set times for 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours. This version has a digital timer that can be adjusted in half hour increments, and it allows you do set it for up to 20 hours. I greatly appreciate that flexibility. There are the same two temperature settings; high or low, and it automatically switches to warm when the timer is done.
Another thing I like about this new version over my old one is the handle. I thought it odd that it was at an angle at first, but once I started using it, it made perfect sense!
The stoneware insert is also dishwasher safe, and attractive enough to be used right at the table.
The only down side I have found with this version is the stainless steel shell, which can get quite hot to the touch. My previous one had a plastic shell, and while it got warm to the touch, it never got quite as hot.
A bonus was the accompanying Li'l Dipper. I have yet to use ours, but it was something I was intending to get for use during our big dinners at Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, so getting it as part of the package was appreciated. It has only one temperature, which is warm enough to keep chocolate melted, but not high enough to cook, making it safe to leave plugged in for as long as needed.
Both the slow cooker and the Li'l Dipper come with recipes that are simple and delicious!
If you've got a busy household, having a slow cooker can really help relieve some of the time stress, and the low and slow cooking method results in some wonderful flavours. It's especially ideal for those tougher, less expensive cuts of meat. These often have a lot more flavour than the more expensive cuts, and all it takes is time to get them mouth wateringly tender and delicious.
If you're not already a fan of slow cooking, I would encourage you to give it a try. You'll wonder why it took you so long!
I picked up this huge tome back when I first started using a slow cooker, and it's a wonderful resource.
Most recipes only need minor adjustments to make them diabetic friendly. This cookbook will get you started.
For those who have learned they cannot eat gluten, it can be extremely difficult to find foods safe to eat. Gluten is found in the most unexpected places! The solution is to cook from scratch, and these slow cooker recipes will help save you time as well.
This has become our favourite slow cooker breakfast. I tend to be a night owl, so I like to prepare this in advance, then start the slow cooker before I go to bed (usually around 2am!). I have never been able to get a photo of it, however, as it gets devoured too quickly!
The quantities here are quite large, but that's okay. The leftovers make a great lunch, too. It even tastes good cold!
Prep Time: 4 hours on low
Serves: 6 or more
- 6 large or 12 small breakfast sausages of choice, cut into half inch pieces
- 4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes or smaller
- olive oil, enough to coat the potatoes lightly
- salt and pepper to taste
- optional: seasonings of choice, such as paprika, savoury, garlic powder or dill, in any combination you like.
- optional: dry, crumbled feta or pieces of goat cheese, to taste
- 12 large eggs
- Lightly oil the bottom and sides of the slow cooker insert.
- Brown the sausage pieces in a frying pan in small batches, putting the browned pieces straight into the slow cooker.
- Toss the cubed potato with olive oil, salt, pepper and optional seasonings. Add to the slow cooker with the browned sausage.
- Add optional feta or goat cheese. Mix everything together.
- Beat eggs well, then pour over the the mixture in the slow cooker. Stir just enough for the eggs to coat everything.
- Set slow cooker to low for 4 hours. Go to bed.
- Wake up to the delicious smell of breakfast already waiting for you. Give the mixture a stir, then serve with toast and your favourite breakfast beverage.