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Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes
This small and simple recipe book was a gift from my sister soon after I purchased a slow cooker over three years ago. It's the perfect introduction into using this cooking method. The book was published in 2010, is spiral bound -therefore easy to turn the pages - and available in hardback and softback. I have the softback version.
The first 10 chapters cover slow cooker basics to ensure readers are able to get the best out of their slow cooker. Some of these chapters are titled "Getting to know your slow cooker", "Adding Liquid", "Adapting Your Favourite Recipes For The Slow Cooker" and "Cooking Time Conversion Guide", all of which I have found to be written clearly and succinctly. These first chapters really do cover everything that a rookie slow cooker cook could possibly need.
The next chapters form the substance of the book, that is, the actual recipes. Chapters are arranged by meal type or main ingredient: Pate, Soups, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Poultry & Game, Fish & Seafood, Vegetarian, Side, Desserts, and Cakes & Breads. Clearly one cake make just about any kind of dish in a slow cooker!
I particularly enjoy the fact that there is a wide variety of recipe styles. There is a combination of older style recipes (eg Citrus Chicken) and newer (Slow Chicken with Ricotta, Rocket & Red Capsicum).
The recipes themselves are easy to follow. Ingredients are listed at the top of the page in both metric and imperial measurements, and are printed in bold. The preparation and cooking instructions follow. Finally, there is an indicator of the number of meals that the recipe makes.
I cook most often with chicken, and can vouch for these recipes included in this book. I have never attempted a slow cooker recipe from a non-meat chapter in this book.
So far I have highlighted this book's many positive attributes. The only negative one for me is the omission of colour photographs. I very much enjoy cooking with my eyes as well as my hands, and this is much more difficult to do when there are not pictures.
* Paperback: 288 pages
* Publisher: Hinkler Books (23 Jan 2010)
* ISBN-10: 1741856078
* ISBN-13: 978-1741856071
* Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.5 x 2.8 cm
~~The Product ~ 'Slow But Sure'~~
The spiral bound book, published by Hinkler Books in January 2010, comes in both hardback and paperback, though I have the aforementioned. The cook book has 288 pages with four of those dedicated to the index. The book's dimensions are 23.4 x 16.5 x 2.8 cm, which makes for a practical size to fit onto the bookstand in my kitchen. The book has a practical attached thin navy blue ribbon as a page saver.
The 'Contents' page consist of the 'Introduction', 'Getting to know your slow cooker', Adding liquid', 'Roast', 'Adapting your favourite recipes for the slow cooker', Cooking time conversion guide', Get inventive', Types of cookers', How to clean and care for your slow cooker', Safety', Pastes & Pates', 'Soups', Beef'' and 'Lamb'. The cook book contains 'over 230 slow cooker recipes'.
~~My Usage Experience ~ 'Slow But Steady Wins The Race'!~~
I love my slow cooker! The economical running cost and, as the front cover of this delightful book states, 'turn it on and forget it, is another reason why I find the concept of preparing meals this way a really practical method. My daughter gave me this book as a gift and I use it frequently for its detailed and simple recipes.
The introductory notes leave me feeling very nostalgic as they remind me of my childhood. For the first ten years of my life, until my beloved and adored Mum passed away, I enjoyed the hearty meals she would prepare. As noted in the book, 'the slow-cooking pot that once bubbled away for hours' brings tears to my eyes even now! The book goes on to state that this style of cooking 'underwent an electronic conversion into the crockpot and became very fashionable. Now, I can prepare meals as my wonderful Mum did, producing 'traditional family meals' but using a slow cooker, as opposed to the large pot on the stove or the crockpot. Mum would have love this new technology I am sure XXX
I only scan read the 'Getting to know your slow cooker' as I had already read the instruction notes that came with my slow cooker. But this section of the book is very practical for beginners of the slow cooker method. It mentions such wise advice as 'your slow cooker cannot recover heat losses quickly, so lift the lid only when necessary'. I did find that such cautionary counsel actually reminded me of pointers I had forgotten over time.
Another portion of the book that I only needed to scan read was the part that dealt with 'Adding liquid', as this was also covered in the instruction manual that came with my slow cooker. But I did find the information on fluid excess very helpful. The book states, 'you may sometimes end up with a recipe with too much liquid, since the liquid content of meats and vegetables varies. The excess can be reduced by removing the cover and setting the cooker on high for about 45 minutes'. I never knew this method before reading this in the book and was very pleased about this simple yet effective advice.
Now, the small section that deals with 'Roast' I found to be such a smashing idea. The guidance comes in just three simple steps regarding gravy. Firstly, the recommendation is to 'remove the foods from the pot, leaving the juices. Secondly, 'prepare a smooth paste of about ¼ cup (2oz) plain (all purpose) flour or cornflour (corn-starch) to ¼ cup (2oz) water. Pour the mixture into the liquid in your cooker and stir well'. Thirdly, 'turn the setting to high and cook, stirring occasionally; until mixture thickens and becomes slightly transparent (approximately 15 to 20 minutes) then serve'. I had always made the gravy separately, but this way, no extra pots need to be used and the measurements and the timing are accurate. I use cornflour and am thrilled with the results of the gravy cooked using this method.
Under the heading 'Adapting your favourite recipes for the slow cooker' I found another little gem of information I hadn't known before reading this book. I've always used the cooker to prepare large portions of food, but the book states 'Generally, 1 to 2 cups (1/2 - 1 pint) of liquid are enough for any recipe, unless: it contains...other absorbent grains', the list goes on to state other exceptions but I've stayed away from cooking rice etc. as I have been concerned about the quantities of fluid. Now I couldn't wait to try out the recipes that contained rice in the ingredient's list!
The time conversion chart on page 11 to 13 is brilliant, a quick guide I can flip onto to enable me to adapt meals that would have been cooked on the hobs or oven. I found this information an excellent practical assistance for me to adjust the cooking times in my oven recipes, such as roast! There is even some most helpful advice on purchasing slow cookers on page 15, 'while the little cookers may seem nifty and compact, it's usually best to get the largest size you think you can use'! I took this advice when I purchased a new slow cooker, and I'm glad I did. I was going to take a reduction in size but having a large slow cooker means that I can still use this method to cook for guest instead of resorting to the oven.
There is some very handy warnings under the heading, 'How to clean and care for your slow cooker'. The majority of care notes I was aware of, well, at my age I ought to be! But it was the information concerning water spots that I found so interesting and a great help. My ceramic pot has water spots on after considerable use. The advice on this is to 'use anon-abrasive cleaner or vinegar'. The vinegar works a treat! Seems you can teach old dog new tricks! :~) From here on, the book goes through the recipes starting with 'Pastes and pates'. Forgive me but I declined the nine pages that dealt with these, such dishes as 'Chicken liver savoury' and 'Pressed tongue' doesn't sound appetising for me. I'm just not a lover of pates :~(
The next section deals with 'Soups'. I love soups in the winter and have generally prepared them on the hobs so I was very eager to see how much easier and tastier this method of cooking them may be. The first page deals with 'Slow cooker stocks', the notes on this section are so handy, such as 'a good, full flavoured stock can be created with the liquid strained from cooking rice plus scrubbed vegetable peelings', both of which I have never though of using before reading this amazing book. When we think about all the nutritional values wasted when throwing away vegetable peelings instead of incorporating them as a great beneficial, nourishing and economical ingredient, it saddens me that I haven't made use of these before now. Thanks to this enlightening book, I have now!
I have tried a few of these recipes but I will note two particular favourites of mine. The one on page 43 is entitled 'Savoury no-calorie soup', which I love when I'm on one of my weight loss regimes! Just six ingredients and two instructions and you end up with servings for four people. The only disadvantage in this recipe is that no cooking time is recorded! All the instructions note concerning this is 'add remaining ingredients and cook-on high or low until vegetables reach the stage of crunch you desire'! I was disappointed with this as the book does recommend 'your slow cooker cannot recover heat losses quickly, so lift the lid only when necessary', which defeats the object when I need to test for the 'crunch' prefer ability to the vegetables every now and then! Otherwise, the recipe is lovely but the instructions could be improved regarding timings!
I love preparing the 'Pea and ham soup' with just seven simple ingredients and very brief but concise instructions, I end up with a most filling and sumptuous soup. The directions are clear and simple to understand. The guide for the timing is given as eight hours on low but what I really appreciated is the handy note that states 'This soup improves with long, slow cooking, so 10-12 hours will enhance the flavour', and it does. The quantities given mean that I can provide 6-8 servings of this filing and tasty soup. The recipe is accurate and spot on with the supplementary information.
The next division is entitled 'Beef' provides some very applicable material on 'variations' that can be used within this section. The very first recipe begins with a 'Basic beef casserole' which I use as a neat platform to adjust and vary according to recipes. It has all the ingredients I'd normally have in my cupboard anyway, apart from the actual beef, so this works out very economical for me. I do need to use an extra pan just to brown the meat, sauté the onions and mix in the stock, but apart from that, all other ingredients are placed in the slow cooker along with the prepared fried ingredients. I don't use cooking oil as directed in the recipe but cooking spray as I find this more beneficial health wise and it keeps the fat content low. This hasn't affected the end results, in fact, I believe it enhances the meals taste, being non greasy! Again the recipe instructions are very clear with no room for me to make mistakes. Each paragraph is brief and concise which makes the format easy on the eye and simple to locate when I need to look away as I prepare the food. I have prepared other succulent recipes in this section but have yet to try the 'Gingered-up beef' which sounds delicious, as I love garlic, ginger and tabasco. This will be next on my list :~)
The next portion of the book is on recipes using 'Lamb'. I love this portion of the book as it provides so many recipes using various parts of lamb. Therefore, if I am on a short week, I can turn to a recipe using a cheaper cut of meat, but still provide a tasty, filling and nutritious meal. Now the 'Irish Stew' is a particular favourite of mine. It contains all the ingredients that make for a hearty winter meal. There are only five sentences, simple instructions to preparing this meal that will provide 4-6 servings. Again the recipe is succinct. The ingredients are presented in bold black lettering, whilst the recipe is in smaller and lighter lettering, but still clear.
The next group of recipes is on 'Pork' which is a meat that I find can be rather hit and miss for me as I'm not very good at preparing certain sections! Cooking it in the slow cooker and following the directions in this cook book makes it almost impossible for me to ruin...and that's saying something! :~) I have prepared an array of different pork sections I'd normally fail on, such as loin and neck and still finish up with a very edible meal! The 'Boston baked beans and pork' is a gorgeous recipe. This recipe uses diced bacon or ham hock, the consumer is given a choice, which I selected the former. The recipe does state un-prepared beans which would need to be soaked overnight, but I generally use tinned beans. Although the beans for the recipe are stated as 'haricot', I like to use the 'Heinz five bean' variety to add a little more texture and taste. The great thing about these recipes is that one can use variations, as long as they are a good combination, without losing the fundamental taste. I did have to use a separate pan to brown the meat, sauté the onions and garlic, but after this, everything was prepared in the slow cooker. Eight simple and pithy instructions guided me through the brief process of preparation. This recipe is absolutely oozing with delectable and savoury flavours.
The next section of 'Poultry and game' includes duck and rabbit! For some reason my eye caught the recipe entitled 'Drunken chicken stew', well, I just had to try this one out! What I loved about this recipe is that it includes bacon along with the chicken, two of my favourite meats. The 'drunken' part is the ingredient of 10oz of white wine. Unfortunately, the recipe doesn't state which type of wine so I 'googled' and found a neat site that gave me hints and also gave me an idea why the recipe hadn't mentioned which type of white wine to use! The site states 'Chicken, and particularly roast chicken seems to go well with almost all grape varieties, so I am sorry to tell you we cannot make it easy by saying something like "only drink Chardonnay with chicken'. With chicken, we need to find a wine that has the right blend of sweetness, acidity, fruitiness and body to complement the meat to perfection. Oddly enough Chardonnay usually fits the bill, so if you want to play it safe, pick a good Australian Chardonnay. They are all pretty good'.
Therefore, I purchased Hardy's Nottage Hill Chardonnay as it is a very tasty wine. A little disappointment concerning this recipe is that I had to 'soak' the 'chicken in salted water for an hour' before I could pop the ingredients in the slow cooker. Although, the extra time is valid and well spent as it furnishes a really succulent dish. Another great feature of this book is that some of the recipes, such as this one, gives 'tips and hints', in this case, 'Rabbit is also delicious prepared like this'.
The next category is on 'Fish and seafood'. A lovely variety of choice here as recipes included such fish as prawn, tuna and cod. I love that I can use cheaper versions such as white fish fillets or on a better financial week, choose tuna fillets! I love making the 'Seafood casserole' as it contains the inexpensive choice of 'assorted fish and seafood' as the main ingredient. Mmmm did I forget to mention 'white wine' too! Goodness what you must think of me! :~D This isn't a particularly filling meal but very palatable nonetheless.
The next section is a very useful portion as it is entitled 'Vegetarian' of which one of my children is. The 'Herb cannelloni with tomato sauce' has turned out to be a regular request! I never thought of cooking any type of pasta in a slow cooker before reading this book, but I am an avid fan of these recipes now. There is a 10 to 15 minute preparation before using the slow cooker but the whole meal only takes 2 ½ hours on the low setting (1-1 ½ hours on high if you prefer). This meal is gorgeous, very appetising.
The next range of recipes deals with 'Side Dishes' which supplies some really neat recipes using a wide range of ingredients, such as butternut pumpkin, eggs and mushrooms. One of the fewest ingredients used is under the title 'Apple Jelly' yet gives one of the longest list of instructions! I love making the 'Savoury rice' as a side dish to curries. This side dish is very nutritious as it includes brown rice, parsley or almonds, whichever is preferred and celery. Although some preparation has to done with the rice, the rest is completed in the slow cooker. A very simple side dish that is lusciously wholesome.
'Desserts' comes next in this comprehensive book. There are a few of these delectable recipes that include alcohol such as apple brandy and Grand Marnier that give a real authentic and professional flavour to the desserts. One of the recipes that have fewer ingredients and preparation time is the 'Spiced Peaches'. I adore cinnamon and peaches so this is a particular winner for me. It only uses 1oz of brandy so I just purchase the miniature spirit drinks available in most large grocery stores. This way, I can keep the cost down yet present a really delicious dessert that taste far more expensive than it really is! There is also another very handy 'tips and techniques' to this recipe, which notes, 'The peaches will keep under refrigeration for at least a week'. This I found to be as useful as it meant that I could prepare the dessert a day before serving to enable me not to get overwhelmed when preparing a meal for guest on the day!
The last section of this practical book is entitled 'Cakes and breads'. Yet again, I would never have thought of being able to prepare 'cakes and breads' in a slow cooker before I had this book. The 'Yoghurt banana bread' is moist and sumptuous. Although all of the preparation has to be done before popping into the slow cooker, the mixture being placed in a cake pan first, and then placed in the cooker, I only need to check the loaf once throughout the cooking time.
The book is full of such amazingly varied and most appetising recipes. So many features such as the 'tips and techniques, simple outlay and readily available ingredients make this book one of my most advantageous cook books in my kitchen. But, I will say that the lack of any pictures is disappointing. I love to see the finished recipes, what they are supposed to look like. But, this has no real effect on the finished meal, only perhaps on how to present some recipes such as the desserts. Another small disappointment is that a few recipes neglect to put times, but with a little inventiveness, this really isn't a problem; so many of the instructions to them have these included.
~~Would I Recommend? ~ 'Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time'!~~
Absolutely. The book furnishes recipes that can provide a six course meal should one wish to present an evening to remember! The variety of many everyday ingredients and noted alternatives means that the consumer is able to keep cost low, yet still provide nutritious meals. The outlay and formatting of the book is simple and very easy in locating favourite recipes. The ribbon book marker means that you won't lose your page as does the practical spiral binding.
There are so many great features to this book, from advice on buying slow cookers to maintenance. With over 230 recipes on an amazing assortment of ingredients, this book provides meals for all palates!
Although this cook book was a gift, it is currently available on Amazon for £2.81 and less, the original RRP being £12.99!
Thank you for taking the time to read my review :~)