Slow Cooking

Do you use your slow cooker often?  I wish I did but I don’t.  It seems that almost everything I make in it tastes like it was cooked in the crock pot. I’ve tried using the plastic liners, thinking maybe that would change the taste, but it doesn’t.  With my sewing room outside the house, I figure using the crock pot more would be good so I can have dinner close to ready when I come in from sewing.  Otherwise, I’ll have to stop sewing about 3:00 and come in and get dinner going or, I’ll have to get dinner going and keep coming back and forth to check on it and I know what will happen — I’ll get busy sewing and forget to check on dinner.

I dug through the few cookbooks that I kept and found The Italian Slow Cooker and The Art of the Slow Cooker.

The French Slow Cooker is new.  I never really looked through any of these books and am surprised I had kept the older two but am glad I did.

Yesterday I made tomato soup in the crock pot.  I deviated from the recipe quite a bit but it turned out fantastic — maybe the best I’ve ever made.

 Today I have Pork Ragu in the crockpot.

I also deviated from the recipe quite a bit but I can see there’s going to be a ton more sauce than we need so I took ground meat out of the freezer and will make meatballs and the leftover sauce will become spaghetti sauce!

Breakfast was sausage and pancakes.  Once I got the crockpot going, I cleaned the kitchen so I plan to spend the rest of the day sewing (while poor Vince is painting!) and then I’ll  make a couple of sides for dinner, and make something to serve during the game tonight and hope that it isn’t a terrible game and I end up having to console myself by buying sock yarn!  🙂

Comments

  1. 1

    Margaret says

    I love and use my crackpot all the time. Ther is a groupmon facebook called crockin’ girls that have a lot of good recipes. I also use the fix it and forget it cookbook a lot.

  2. 2

    Margaret says

    Sorry, I didn’t see the auto correct was on. It should say my crock pot and ther is a group on facebook. I should read these better before I post.

  3. 3

    CindyM says

    There are a lot of things I don’t like in the crockpot… but I do like soups and stews in there. But pretty much no pasta and no rice in there. There’s a nice cookbook out there called “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook ” which keeps things from tasting like mush (which is what I associate with a crockpot oftentimes. But the prep or final steps are usually quite a bit of work and take away the convenience of a crockpot to me. So I keep to soups, chili, etc.

  4. 4

    says

    I love calling my crockpot the crackpot! hehehe

    I do not use mine enough but I do love the freedom it gives me when I do. Throw an entire meal inside in the morning, whip up a salad and voila, I have the entire day to do whatever I want.

    Hubby is going to be traveling on business the last two weeks of January. This may be a good option for when he is gone. Then I will be forced to eat something besides junk food. Thanks, for posting this, Judy. Now I will plan ahead. 🙂

  5. 5

    says

    Judy, I use my crockpot all the time. Just put a beef stew on this morning, in fact. I used to use the recipe books, but then decided that I should cook, as I usually do, just by knowing what I like and then figuring out what will make it taste that way. My base for beef stew will either involve Lipton Onion Soup or Better Than Bouillon, your basic onions, celery, and carrots sautee’, some canned tomatoes, and perhaps a sprig of thyme or rosemary. Anything chicken related usually gets the Scarborough Faire treatment – parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme! To either I add whatever veggies will suit me. I can’t eat pasta or rice, but I can generally get away with some quinoa or a little bit of barley. Sometimes, I’ll roast my veggies in the oven first with a bit of olive oil, then add them to the pot. They are so flavorful that way. I cook as I run the rest of my life – by the seat of my pants!

  6. 6

    says

    I must admit I don’t use mine often – mainly I use it for chili and for pot roast (without the veggies) I think a crock pot cooks the veggies too much unless you remember to add the veggies about half way through the day so they won’t be mush. I have not thought though to make tomato soup or pasta sauces in them – don’t know why – makes more sense then simmering sauces on the stove for several hours and making a mess.
    Karen

  7. 7

    says

    I’m going to try using my crockpot more too.
    Don uses it a good bit. He even cooks mustard/turnip greens in it. I’m going to try this recipe for the Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli today. Someone in the beauty salon told me yesterday that she makes it all the time and says it is wonderful.
    http://www.food.com/recipe/olive-garden-pasta-e-fagioli-soup-in-a-crock-pot-copycat-31717 . I’ll let you know how it turns out. It’s going to be our meal to eat while we watch the Saints tonight.

    • 8.1

      laura says

      I was going to post the exact same thing.

      I’ve got both her cookbooks and use them often. I can’t praise her recipes enough, at least the ones with a good verdict. 🙂

      • says

        I concur! I started reading her blog after our daughter started eating gluten free. She gives you suggestions on what to use whether you are eating gluten free or not. It SURE helps my day, when I start that crockpot early, no more worries about ‘WHATS FOR DINNER MOM????!!!’ lolol

  8. 9

    says

    Judy, I hardly ever use mine, either. My husband says just what you said…”No matter what you put in a crock pot, it all tastes the same!”.

    I have always used mine for sauerkraut and pork. That’s once a year for sure and some years an extra time or two for sauerkraut.

    However, my daughter made an incredible stuffed pepper soup in hers and even the hubby liked it. So, I got the recipe and included it in my favorites.

    Sure love seeing your kitchen works of art. Thanks so much for sharing.

  9. 10

    Vicki S says

    Excuse me for asking. The difference between a slow cooker and a crock pot is …… what?

    • 10.1

      Donna in KS says

      A slow cooker has a base, akin to a hotplate, that heats and the pot sits on it. I have had several, WestBend, I think, through the years and DEFINITELY prefer this appliance to a crockpot. In my opinion, they are much more versatile and food tastes pretty much like what it should! They are a bit more challenging to find; of course, crockpots are everywhere! I use mine less now that it’s just the two of us, but I’m using everything less!! There will always be a slow cooker in my kitchen tho!

  10. 11

    says

    I wouldn’t say I use it often but there are a few no fail recipes I love in the crockpot. Stuffed cabbage is one of them and also a new to me recipe involving pinto beans, salsa and chicken thighs. I thought I got that recipe from you, but maybe not.
    My real saving grace is that my husband cooks as often as I do. Even when I’m home all day and he is working. He LIKES to cook. I know how lucky I am because it lightens my load quite a bit and he is an awesome cook too. I still do the clean up, however….

  11. 12

    Diane Kelsey says

    Sometimes, I put a casserole in the oven for the last half hour, it helps get rid of that ‘taste’.

  12. 14

    Trina says

    Do you like turkey? I have a crockpot recipe for Maple turkey thighsthat I like . I admit I don’t use my crockpot that much. Seems the food doesn’t have enough flavor. I really should though. But the turkey thighs comes out pretty good.
    Trina

  13. 15

    lw says

    I’ll have to wait till I retire– I’m not home enough (either working or out grocery shopping or something) and I’m not brave enough to leave a slow cooker in the same house with the dogs unless I’m around.

    The tomato soup sounds wonderful.

  14. 16

    says

    I cooked pork verde in the crockpot this week. It was easy and delicious. Boston butt seasoned with chili powder,cumin,garlic powder,salt,pepper. Cover with one jar salsa verde. Cook on lowest setting. I shred the meat and serve with tortillas,beans and rice.

  15. 18

    quilterbee says

    I use mine. Some of the chefs on Food Network say to brown the meat first on the stove then put it in the crock. I make a pot roast where you add Cola to it and that helps it brown from the sugar. I also add an onion soup mix, and garlic. You pour the cola down the sides of the roast after it is in the crock. Check out Emeril, I think that is where I saw this recipe on t.v. If your dish taste bland add more spices to the crock than you would if you were just cooking it not in the crock. I use mine a lot in the summer. I’ve got hashbrown cheesy potatoes in mine right now and I’m browning up some country ribs that I’m going to put in the second crock pot with some BBQ.

    I wish I wasn’t such a chicken to buy a pressure cooker and use it. I’m so afraid it will explode even though the new ones aren’t suppose to.

    Quilterbee

    • 18.1

      Donna S (in MI) says

      Quilterbee: I used to feel that way, but I am a pressure cooker convert now. I did splurge on one like Judy’s and more than one year later, it still hasn’t exploded. Go for it!

  16. 19

    Mary Jo says

    My family loves Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese. No family gathering is the same without it. It reminds my husband of the Mac & Cheese his mom made, so it’s always a hit with him!

  17. 21

    says

    I love chili made in the crock pot. I turn it on high to quickly bring it to a hot temperature, then remove the lid and let it cook. If I am in a hurry, 4 hours, I leave it on high. If not I turn it to low. My husband helps make the chili, seeing it is mostly opening cans or jars then pour in contents into the cooker. He even knows to rinse the containers with just a bit of water and add that also to the pot. While he is doing that I brown the ground chuck, chopped the onions, green peppers and the hot peppers. Once everything is added we just enjoy the fragance all day and stir one in a while.

    I also use it when canning to thicken sauces and making apple or pear butters. Once in a while for a roast, but usually brown the meat first and only add the vegetables needed for flavor. The rest of the vegetables are cooked later either in the crock pot or in the mircorwave using the juices from the pot as the liquid.

  18. 23

    Sandy says

    I rarely use my crock pot. The last thing I made in it was a pot roast with veggies and although I used the same ingredients as I do when not using the crock pot, the taste was totally different and I didn’t like it much.

  19. 24

    Nolene says

    I hope your game goes the way you want tonight. I would hate to think you would be forced into buying more yarn. LOL I am new at this sock making stuff, so I am copy catting when you mention a place where you buy your yarn from.

  20. 25

    says

    I love my crock pot. I wouldn’t say I use it every week but when I do I always make double. That way, I always have something to put in the freezer for another night. My recent favorites have been pork tenderloin recipes. Just yesterday, I made Thai Slow Cooker Chicken soup which we will have tonight. Another good reference book is “Not Your Mother’ Slow Cooker”.

  21. 26

    Laurel from Iowa says

    And here I thought a crock pot and a slow cooker were basically the same. The things I learn on your blog!! I have two crock pots and rarely use either of them. It’s not that I think the food from them tastes funny, I just don’t like to cook!

  22. 27

    says

    Even as I’m reading your blog, I have apple butter being made in my crockpot!! I had some apples that weren’t as crisp as we like them and so in they went! OH, does the house smell wonderful!! I soak my dried beans in the crockpot also and then cook them up in the crockpot! Plus all the dozens of meals we cook in it!!! Love it!! Make regular as well as Greek yogurt in it too for pennies!!!

    • 27.1

      HeideW says

      What is the secret to softening beans? I follow the directions on the package to no avail.

  23. 28

    says

    I use my crockpot often and hardly even use a recipe. That seems to work better when you add ingredients that you prefer.

  24. 29

    Mel Meister says

    We use the crock pots a lot. The only thing I do not like in a crock pot is chicken. It gets really dried out and tough. We have a pork recipe that is one of our very favorites. I make roasts all the time and desserts and veggie dishes. I have three or four of them going at Thanksgiving.

  25. 30

    Mel Meister says

    Just happened to read another post about yogurt. The crock pot makes the BEST yogurt! And then you can let the yogurt drain in a coffee strainer to make greek yogurt.

    We buy raw milk and the yogurt made from that raw milk is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. Fantastic!

  26. 31

    Gale says

    I’ve never had a crockpot but have had and still have and constantly use my slow cooker (West Bend). I cook many different things in it and they aren’t mushy. I really don’t use a cookbook or recipes for most daily meals. I know what combines well and what we like and I also like to experiment. Just this morning I put in dried navy beans with hot Italian sausages, onions and some seasonings. It surely smells good.

  27. 33

    Karen says

    Judy, I think there’s a blog called ‘a year of slow cooking’. She posts a different slow cooker recipe each day.

  28. 34

    says

    Privately (until now), I’m hoping it’s a terrible game so you DO get to buy more sock yarn! Please don’t hate me. LOL!

    We’re in Cannon Beach, Oregon, this weekend. Today we went shopping and walked by what looks to be a very nice yarn shop. I thought of you and my SIL when we walked by. I sooo wanted to go in, but I avoided it.

    Did the other yarn arrive yet? Hopefully not today (Saturday, while Vince is home…). ha!

    🙂

  29. 36

    says

    I always hated them too but when I ended up with a house full of working adults. We started to use to save money. If there is something there at 6pm we don’t hit the fast food chains.

    http://sixsistersstuff.blogspot.com/2011/08/25-delicious-slow-cooker-recipes.html

    they have some really good stuff that doesn’t taste or look like it came out of the crock pot. I hope that some day my only task will be remembering to eat..because I am sewing too much.

    happy sewing

  30. 37

    says

    I have found thar cooking in a Crock Pot works better if the li d is off or slightly open. Other wise food gets steamed and watered down too much. Just sayin

  31. 38

    says

    Love my crockpot for Quilt Day. We invite everyone who wants to come help make quilts for Binky Patrol for the day (10a -5p) and we provide lunch. Always in the crockpot. It is hot and ready for them whenever they are ready to eat. Split Pea Soup yesterday. Chicken and Dumplings, Black Bean Soup, Crockpot Lasagna, Taco Soup, and White Bean Chili all have been a hit.

  32. 39

    Evelyn says

    I only use my crock pot for beef stew, pot roast and bar-b-que pulled pork sandwiches. I have to say – it is worth keeping it just for these 3 recipes though! Do you have a rice cooker? I like my rice cooker a lot, especially the steam tray – you can put food up top and cook the rice at the same time and the flavors of the top food will drip down to the bottom. Cheers! Evelyn

  33. 40

    Teresa says

    I use a crock pot for just about everything. If it fit’s I try it. I also belong to several FB – crock pot pages. If you brown your meat, use the right spices & watch your cooking time it’s just as good as standing over the stove. I cooked our ham in it at Christmas, was so good!

  34. 42

    says

    NO. I think anything cooked in a crockpot other than soup tastes quite awful. It does something freaky to foods. I am a slow cooker fan… done the old way, in the oven on low heat. Give me a good old fashioned cast iron dutch oven or a clay one, and color me happy!

  35. 43

    Toby says

    I use my crockpot occasionally and it’s okay – with strongly seasoned foods like chipotle pulled pork.
    But the last two weeks I have been LOVING it for steel cut oatmeal. It is the best way to cook steel cut oats (IMHO) this weekend I threw some in with slivered almonds and chopped fresh cranberries for 4.5 hours and it was perfect! Steel cut oats are 60% more effective at reducing cholesterol – I am a recent convert and am enjoying playing with flavors in my crockpot.