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About 2 months ago we made a large purchase from Argos and were given a 10 pound voucher for our troubles. Now not being one to turn down free money we cast around for something to spend our money on and came up with the idea of a slow cooker.
why we chose this mode & price
We decided on a slow cooker because we lead very busy modern lives and the various members of the family all come in at different times during the evening, all of course starving to death.
Our choice of slow cookers was also limited to the range on sale in Argos due to the voucher we had received, and we settled on this Cookworks model as the best value for money from their range.
It was (and still is) on sale at Argos for 19.99 which I think is a complete bargain considering how often we have used it already, and of course we got a tenner off this price with our voucher.
Style and Design
Don't get me wrong...this slow cooker is huge! Well the description tells you that, 6.5 litres is a very large capacity. But actually once it had found it's place on our kitchen worktop, we soon got used to the size of it and now its seems fine.
The main body is of brushed stainless steel, with a drop in ceramic casserole dish, which seats itself very neatly inside showing just a half inch black rim over the top. This is nicely set of by the black plastic base which is finished off with a half inch black band showing at the bottom. The whole stylish look is finished off by a single black knob on the front and two black carrying handles, one on each side.
It is oval in shape and has a heavy clear glass lid with a black central handle topping of the whole .
How it works
The control knob is simple and virtually idiot proof. You are offered the choice of 4 different settings, Off, Low. High and Warm, and a small red light indicates that the cooker is functioning. The Low Setting is for when we are expecting to be out all day and very late home. It will take 10 to 12 hours to cook the food. The High Setting will cook our meal in 6 - 8 hours, and the Warm Setting will keep our cooked food warm until we need it.
We simply fill it with our chosen ingredients in the morning, turn it onto either the High or Low setting depending on our days agenda, and leave. When we come home later in the day, we have a delicious cooked ,meal which we can just spoon onto a plate and eat....delicious!
Cleaning and Maintenance
When the food is all eaten, the drop-in casserole dish and the glass lid can be simple lifted out and washed up as one would wash any casserole dish. I believe it is dishwasher proof, but we wash up by hand in our house. It is however, as I said before a very large utensil, and does not fit easily into the washing up bowl we use. I have to place it on it's end and wash one side at a time, but so far, it has cleaned up beautifully with just a little attention from the plastic scourer.
The rest of the machine is of course an elecrtical item and cannot be washed up, but as the food does not touch it this is not a problem. After I have unplugged it from teh mains, I give it a quick wipe over with a damp cloth to mop up any spill or marks.
What we cook
We have so far cooked, stewing steak, pork belly, chicken thighs, and saugages in this machine. We so far have always cooked a stew/casserole type of meal, but I believe dryer type recipes can also be used. A recipe book come with the cooker, and there are thousands of ideas and recipes on the internet
We generall add root vegetable such as carrots, sweet potato, onions, parsnip, turnips etc. We nearly always add potatoes so that there is a complete meal in one pot, and sometimes we will add other vegetables such as peas, beans and sweetcorn.
We add cornflour, gravy browning and various herbs to boiling water that we pour over the ingredients, and find a chug of worcestershire sauce and a spoonful of marmite give body to the flavour. In our most recent meal we also added a purchased casserole mix which added an extra dimension to the flavours.
Some recipes we have seen on the internet advocate lightly browning the meat before adding to the slow cooker, but I haven't got time for faffing around, and I dont want to dirty extra pots and pans. The whole lot gets chucked in and left and it comes out just fine.
So what does it taste like?
I must admit that our very first meal was a bit bland, but I believe this was because of the sheer size of the 6.5 litre capaacity. Since then we have added larger amounts of flavouring and seasoning, and every meal has been delicious. The meat has always cooked to a point where it falls apart under the fork and melts in the mouth. The vegatables, are always throroughly cooked. I like them best after 6 hours on the high setting, as I find it the meal is left cooking for 8 hours or more then the potato can start becoming more mush than vegetable. But we have a system where the first one home turns the machine onto the warm setting, and then its kept at a perfect stage of cooking for all of us.
We can cook enough food in tis one machine to feed six adults with no problem, sometimes all at one sitting, other times we have food left over for the next day. The food is always beautifully cooked and the heavy lid ensures that it does not dry out at all.
I am left with the conclusion that I wish I had bought one years ago, it is a comlete boon in the kitchen of a busy household, and I have no problem at all in recommending it.
This is a reasonably priced slow cooker that i have had for years now. It is very good for when the family is having a roast dinner as the meat it cooks is great. It may take hours for this to cook meat but when it's cooked it is great. I have used this machine around 20 times and every time it was to cook a type of meat, it has never broken or had any faults. My favourite type of meat to cook in this machine would be lamb because it tastes good after the hours it has been cooked. Also the price of the machine is good for a well known brand like cook works.
Overall I would say this is a great slow cooker because of the price and the quality of the appliance, i would recommend this to people who are looking for a slow cooker.
I did some research and checked reviews before buying this slow cooker. I wasn't sure how much use I'd get from it so I didn't want to spend big money on something that may have ended up in the back of a press. This one is good value for the price - it doesn't have some of the extras that you would expect to find on a dearer model but it has enough for me. It's quite large so if you haven't got much room then it might not suit but it does look stylish enough to leave on your counter permanently. It has three settings - low, high and a setting to keep the food warm once cooked. I have cooked stews, chillis and roasted joints and all have turned out brilliantly. The walls and handles get hot when its in use so some care is advised. Like all slow cookers, this is very economical to run and the ceramic bowl can be easily removed for washing.
Cooking a beef stew is my fav! my fiance and 2 little boys love it and after seeing this on offer decided to get it. Its normally around £30 but I got it on sale for £22. Which i felt was a good price for a slow cooker. Sadly it did have a dent in when it arrived so a replacement was sent.
*****Cookworks slow cooker*****
The slow cooker is stainless steel, black bottom and black rim. It has a transparent lid that has a black handle with 2 black handles attached either side of the slow cooker. There is a dial in the centre that has a 'high, low, medium and off'.
3 settings (high, medium and low as mentioned above)
large 6.5 litres capacity so ideal for family's with its generous size.
Removable pot so is easy for washing
It heats fast, looks stylish in my kitchen and best of all does not take ages. I previously owned a very old slow cooker that even with cooking all day everything was still rock hard, this tenderised everything lovely, which is brilliant as my youngest is still a toddler so he could chew it. Stew would go on at 8am and it ment i could go out all day and leave it, it smelt delicious coming home!
Its easy to wipe over and keep clean, different heat settings, and is a very good size, i often have my sister over and theres still always some left.
The handles at the side means its easy to move about, sadly 1 of the handles did break tho, as well as the dial on the front coming off and ive only had it since last xmas so still under the 12month warrenty, but it isnt really used much in hotter months so thought it really should have lasted more a than a few months use. Due to this ive marked down a few stars, but when working it was a fab slow cooker.
However, the silver part got VERY hot! , its kept well out of reach anyway but can be very sore if you accidentally touch it. My previous slow cooker didnt get that hot!
This has transformed my life. I place all the ingredients in before I go to work and then have a delicious meal waiting for the family when I return home. It is so easy to use and looks very nice too with my other stainless steel appliances.
I have had this slow cooker for almost a year now, and overall I would recommend it. It is very easy to use - simply plug it in, switch it on and turn the dial to the clearly labelled setting of your choice. It is sturdily made, and I feel like it will last years and years which makes it great value.
This slow cooker has a large capacity, which makes it ideal for either large cut of meat, whole chickens and other pot roasts or for big batches of stews, casseroles, curries etc. It is too big for e to make, for example, one meal of bolognaise for my family of 5 so I tend to do a double batch and freeze half if making a smaller dish like this. We recently catered a small event using several 6.5l slow cookers, and found that it held chilli comprising 2kg mince, 6 tins of chopped tomatoes, 4 tins of kidney beans, 4 onions, 2 chopped peppers, a hanful of chopped mushrooms and additional seasonings. (This wasn't meant to be a recipe, just an indication of the most full this slow cooker has ever been in my house! This chilli easily catered for over 20 people wen served with separately cooked rice.
I usually use hot stock, water, or whatever liquid the recipe requires (as recommended in the instruction), and so the slow cooker starts cooking the meal quite fast - it usually starts simmering within about 45 mins. It maintains a good cooking temperature, which if I were to be picky I would say is slightly hot for slow cooking. It is rather vigorous and I would prefer the option to have an even lower cook. However, I know that most rival slow cookers operate at a similar temperature to this one. The slow cooker cooks meals in about 4 - 6 hours, but I usually leave it longer as a matter of taste. The lid is a good fit, so it is efficient and effective. It has a keep warm function so you can keep food warm when it is cooked.
The crockpot (the bit you put food in that's made of pot) removes easily from the metal base, so it can be served at the table on a heatproof mat for everyone to dip into. It is thick and sturdy, so food stays warm for a long time even when switched off.
It can be quite hard to clean, as liquid sometimes spills slightly over the edge of the crockpot and into the metal casing. The crockpot is so big that it is hard to soak it in an ordinary sink. However, it seems to be made of reasonably non-stick material, and when cooking ordinary meals a quick soak, wash and scrub is enough to bring the crockpot clean again.
Do you lead a busy life?
Are you full time parent that simply doesnt have time to stand and stir whilst your food cooks?
Are you too tired after a long hard day at work to prep a nice healthy/hearty meal so you settle for less?
Do you feel like you cannot cook?
Well, this is a good send!
I have this slow cooker and another one prior to this one.. I can honestly say i fit into all of the above exact the last (i am keen cook) and i would be lost without my slow cooker. I am a full time mum to 3 young children, part time worker and trying to orgainse & plan our wedding in midst of this, my life style is non stop at the minute and i know we all lead hectic lifestyles in our own way. If i know im in for a long busy day and will struggle time wise to cook a lovely meal for my family i will pull my slow cooker out in the morning, i chop my vegatables and meat, stir my stock or gravy and throw it all into a bowl. Then when i get back from work or if its my day off when i get back from school run i turn it on to the correct setting to warm up, then once its warmed up i throw all my ingredients in and leave it. I usually check every few hours to give it a quick stir and a little water. Then when we are all home ready for tea its just a matter of dishing it up.
Do not be afraid if you feel like you cannot cook as you cannot go wrong with this! How easy is it to peel and chop a few veggies? You can buy meat already diced and buy stock already made, a little water is all thats needed. One of my fave's is a sausage casserole - I buy a sachet of casserole mix from any local supermarket, mix that as directed, chop up my onions add a few of our personal favourite veggies, add the sausages and throw it all in the slow cooker. What a gorgeous tasty meal! Theres many more easy, tasty meals you can do and i started out by going to my local supermarket, looking at the sachets and reading the backs for the cooking hints and guides. Then over time my confidence grew and now i put in anything, i have never had a bad meal from doing this.
Anyhow enough of my rambling! Heres some info regarding the slowcooker:-
Style: It is oval in shape, black and chrome. Very on trend and stylish but also extremely easy to wipe clean. It has a thick glass lid which allows the food to cook correctly as it should.
Capacity: This is 6.5 litres, so just imagine how much is in 3 bottles of coca-cola and you'll get a rough estimate how much it holds. I feed my family from this and there is 5 of us and there is always leftovers.
Wattage: 320 Watts - perfect as you can cook anything in this over a few hours on the correct setting.
Settings: It has 3 settings - High Warm & Low. Depending on how fast you want your food and what ingredients you have in you can choose the correct setting.
How to clean: This has an inner ceramic bowl and that simply lifts out (when its cooled down of course). It is dishwasher safe, i do have a dishwasher but i prefer to handwash this. Dont use a hard scrubbing brush as it may scratch it (I leave in hot water then wipe round with a sponge) The outter case is chrome, wipe with a damp cloth then i rub with kitchen roll to prevent marks.
Purchase: I purchased mine from Argos and i do believe it cost me in region of £90.
Overall, Its a must have! It will last you years and years, its very stylish, will feed a large family or just for one, easy to clean and anyone can use this!
I help out daily with my partners business, have a toddler and a house to run so for my recent birthday I asked for a chef to help out! if only....!
I had very little time to spare for meals some days so it was either take away or a quick stir fry to throw together...food became a chore rather than a pleasure... I was given this cookworks slow cooker has a birthday present from my father in law, most women would throw a hissy fit about receiving a kitchen appliance for their birthday but i was over the moon!
It consists of a silver "casing" with the power lead attached to it, a ceramic oval pot that sits snuggly inside and a glass lid. The controls couldn't be easier if they tried, one dial with "off" , "high" and "low", even I couldn't mess it up and i am useless with gadgets! Its a wide oval but also quite narrow so doesn't take up a vast amount of space on a work top.
I couldn't wait to try it so that night we had beef casserole, chucked everything in the pot and 5 hours later we had a wonderful meal with very little effort, I was worried about food sticking to the bottom but I didn't need to, there was no evidence of sticking, no burnt bits, just perfectly cooked casserole! I couldn't have been happier!
You do get an instruction manual with it which includes a rough how to guide with recipe ideas and examples of how long things take to cook on the "high" and "low" settings but to be honest I have put things in in the morning on high by accident and by 5pm they are still perfectly fine! I have yet to have anything dry out, I think it must be damn near impossible to go wrong with this!
I was impressed by how easy it was to clean too, you do have to leave it to cool slightly as the ceramic pot is quite heavy so a bit hard to get out and mess with when its really hot although if there is only a small amount to clean inside (I have just put a roasting joint in before so no gravy or anything to clean off) you could just swish round it with your dish cloth.
I spent about 3 months doing stews and casseroles when a friend of mine said she uses hers for all sorts of dishes, i was under the impression it was only for dishes containing a lot of liquid! So off I went to research "slow cooker recipes" I was shocked by the shear amount and variety of recipes I found! To this day, in my slow cooker, I have made stews, casseroles, soups, roasts (so juciy and tender!!), biryani, paella, chilli con carne, bolognaise...the list is endless!
My father in law told me it was £30 when he purchased it but you can pick these up from around £25, there are various capacity ones available, mine is a 6.5 litre and would easily feed a family of about 6!
It had never occurred to me to purchase a slow cooker but now I couldn't be without one! It has a permanent place in our kitchen for many years to come!
I like to eat nice food, even if it means not eating as healthily as I should do all the time; but I do try and exercise a bit to get rid of any excess...what I like to call 'heavier skin patches'...: So when it comes to making a meal I like to start from scratch so that I know exactly what I am eating.
To help me make a nice meal from scratch I like to have a few devices in the kitchen so that making the actual meal is not a meal in itself, if you know what I mean?.
One particular device I tend to use to make a nice warming meal, especially during the colder spells; which is usually in the winter but the way the seasons have been going recently those colder spells could be in the middle of summer too: is something that is called a slow cooker, although I have heard it called a crock pot as well.
And over the years I have owned one or two of these slow cookers, with my latest one, the one which will hopefully be cooking some fine meals over the forthcoming winter months, looking like most others apart from one or two things.
Firstly, it has not got a well known brand etched on the side of it.
Secondly, it has not got one of those celebrity chefs images splattered all over it.
It simply has the name 'Cookworks' etched on the front, just above the easy to understand, and even easier to use, control knob, with a little red light letting you know when the cooker is on.
What does this slow cooker look like then..?
It's oval shaped with a stainless steal casing and a removable ceramic dish inside. On the outside of the steal casing there are a couple of quite rigid plastic handles either side which make lifting the entire unit quite easy, even with thick oven gloves on.
The ceramic dish itself can hold up to 6.5 litres of liquid/food, although filling it right to the top is not advisable due to the fact that water expands, bubble and splatters all over the place when it heats up.
There is a toughened glass lid to cover the dish when the food is cooking which stops a lot of the 'splattering' but as steam is quite powerful this lid can be pushed up slightly which does allow some hot steam to escape out of the sides. But this is not really a problem as the lid manages to stay in place and keep enough of the heat contained to cook the food properly. This lid is easy lifted using the nice sized knob type handle on the top, although as heat does tend to rise I do advise using a dry cloth or even an oven glove to actually lift the lid off.
This has a 320 watt 'engine' inside it to give it enough power to cook your food without any trouble at all.
On the front there is a little arrow type dial which acts as the control knob, which has four easy to understand functions, those being Off, High, Low and Warm, with this warm setting allowing you to keep cooked foodstuff warm until it is ready to be eaten, thus, eliminating the chances of overcooking your tea.
The bottom of this cooker is nice and flat, with four small rubber none stick feet to stop it dancing around the work top, and it has a short, but adequate, mains lead to plug it into your electricity supply via a standard plug socket.
Is it easy to use..?
The hardest thing about this cooker is actually deciding what food to put into it, but that's your personal choice.
How does it work then..?
Once it's plugged in the base of the metal out shell heats up, together with the interior of the sides too, which in turn heats up the ceramic dish that is slotted inside the shell. This then heats up the dish and eventually, as the heat is a low constant heat, it will begin to cook the food inside the dish.
To use it you can either use my method, which is trial and error, basically throwing food into it in certain proportions until you have created that perfect heart warming meal. This way is easy and what ever you throw into it should taste quite nice, although things like curry powder, Bisto and Paxo bunged in at the same time may bring on a very dodgy bowel movement so I would think about what you put in first.
I won't insult you by telling you what can and can't put into this cooker, but I will say that it can take a lot of contents, such as vegetables, meats, more veg and a lot of stock, or maybe water. And the results are usually delicious and, depending on the meats of course, melt in the mouth tasty, with some foods seeming to slide down the gullet with perfection.
The other method is to buy, or even download, the many cook books that are specifically designed for slow cookers. These books are great at giving you some fresh ideas and proportion sizes, and they usually only cost a few pence rather than a few quid.
Do remember though that it does NOT have a timer so you do have to be around to turn it off yourself when the food is cooked, although, unlike a standard cooker, you don't have to be stood over it for hours on end.
Now for the horrid task of cleaning it...
This can be done either by placing it in a dishwasher, but don't put the stainless steal section in as this is where the electric is and it won't do it any good if you wash this section. Just put in the ceramic dish and the lid.
Failing that, you can wash it by hand in the usual old fashioned way, in a bowl full of hot soapy water, gently scrubbing the sides with a plastic brush...
NEVER USE METAL BRUSHES ON THE DISH as this could cause deep scratches which could weaken the ceramic build.
Then there's the lid, which may be toughened glass but don't drop it on a hard surface as it could break, but cleaning it is just like cleaning anything else.
Apart from my main oven and hob this is without doubt one of the most used 'larger' devices that I use in the kitchen, (in this I do not include the toaster, kettle and sandwich maker), especially in the winter months as it create those hot meals without too much time spent in the kitchen.
It is obviously designed for the average family, being the size it is, as it can cook a lot of food in one sitting. In fact, it makes enough for my family of four and still has ample left over for the dog to sift through, with some to spare. (my dog tends to leave things like carrots and swede whilst munching happily on the meat and potatoes... but what a mess around his food bowl afterwards, and in the back garden once it's gone through him).
The stainless steel casing looks quite nice, even if you do have to spend a bit of time cleaning it after every use, but it can get a bit hot when this is being used, so do take care when handling this as you will burn your fingers if you're not careful.
The ceramic dish fits snugly into the steal casing without actually touching the sides, which stops the dish from becoming scratched when you lift it in and out.
The lid is oval shape, covering the entire black pot so that the heat and steam stays inside the cooker so that the food cooks evenly. But Don't worry if some steam does escape as there is quite a bit of force with steam and it can push the lid up slightly as it steams away.
The dish and the lid are actually dishwasher safe so not only can you take the hassle out of cooking you can take the hassle out of cleaning it as well, although some stubborn foods may not want to let go of the sides of the dish.
The only thing that I feel spoils this is the power lead, which is a bit of a joke, being about a foot long so you do have to have this close to a socket in order to use it... but then again, if your kitchens like mine then you won't be short of plug sockets in there.
And it does weigh a bit, especially the ceramic dish, even when it is empty, so do take care when carrying it about, although it's not going to snap your spine when you pick it up.
As I said, I have used this many many time, putting in lots of different types of food, trying out knew things, using my family as guinea pigs, and they're still here so I haven't done a bad job so far.
If I'm out all day I tend to get prep all the ingredients the night before, then throw it all into the cooker in the morning, putting it on a low setting until either myself or my wife get back home. By then the food is cooked and is ready to be served as the slow setting is, well, slow, as the name states, and I've never managed to over cook any of the food yet.
The cooking settings are again about choice, depending on the meats you use, but I do prefer the slow setting as I know then that I'm not going to be tucking into chicken only to discover that the insides are as red as a teenage boys face when he's talking to the female lifeguard at the side of the swimming pool.
So now for the price of this slow cooker, or crock pot, which ever name you know it by?
This little darling sells for around the £25.00 region which is cracking money in anyone's eyes for what this can do.
In all, if , like me and many others out there, you haven't got too much time to prepare and cook a meal, spending hours over a stove to get that perfect succulent meat, then this is for you as all you have to do is throw in the ingredients, bung in a bit of liquid, turn the dial to low of high and away you go... then, after about four hours you've got a mouth watering and heart warming meal that is not only tasty but should be as healthy as you want it to be.
Cookworks Signature 6.5 Litre Slow Cooker