Set it and forget it

Sorry if this sounds like an infomercial or cooking show… but I love my crock pot and I want to share my experiences and in hopes that it will inspire you.

As soon as I had an apartment of my own I knew that I wanted to buy a crock pot. My mom always had one and used it from time to time. It seemed to be an easy appliance to use and it made preparation and cooking easy and especially fast.

I really learned to love it when I began working full-time and didn’t have a lot of time to cook. I could prepare the meal the night before or that morning. Most recipes call for the food to cook between 6 and 10 hours.

My Crock Pot is a brand name slow cooker. This is a misconception— just like calling tissues kleenex all the time when that is simply just one brand name.  Xerox, TiVo, Google, are other examples of brand names that get used for all generic products of the same sort.

This particular style Crock Pot allows you to set a timer and when the time runs out it will turn the heat down to keep the food warm only. You have 3 settings– high, low and keep warm. This means you can never over cook or burn while you are away. You don’t have to worry about leaving the pot on while you’re at work.

The best part about my Crock Pot is that the pot itself comes out of the cooker/appliance. This allows you to serve at the table and clean in the sink or even in the dishwasher. That’s right– I said DISHWASHER. I try to avoid buying anything that isn’t dishwasher friendly. For example, my George Foreman grill didn’t have removable plates so it was very difficult to clean and made me avoid using it that often. So I purchased a Cuisinart Griddler instead. It has removable plates, both grill and griddle style.

Recently I cooked a couple of meals that turned out nice. Pork and Tomato Ragout and then Saturday I cooked Vegetarian Lasagna. I highly recommend both. The recipes make enough for a full meal and even leftovers. In our case I still make the full recipe and either freeze or store the leftovers. It may just be the two of us but I don’t see the need to cut the recipes in half all the time.

Cookbooks are out there for slow cookers specifically. And if you do want to reduce the recipes, look into getting a conversion chart. It will make your life easier. Or check out websites like www.allrecipes.com. It allows you to pick a recipe and change the number of servings. It will then regenerate the ingredient list with the smaller amounts.

Although most people think slow cookers are just for soups, stews and cider, they work well to cook meat and all kinds of things. Some recipes allow you to put in raw ingredients and sometimes you will need to cook the ingredient partially or all the way before adding it to you pot.

And if this doesn’t sound good enough, you can even cook desserts. English Bread Pudding is on my list to try next. Dessert is one of those things that you love to enjoy but don’t always want to take the time after dinner to create. Dessert shouldn’t be put on the back burner and you shouldn’t always have to eat something quick like ice cream and cookies.

Are you still sitting there? Go out and buy one! And save some money too… hit up and Bed, Bath & Beyond (if you need one of their coupons– I have about a million)

Happy Cooking!

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