There is nothing better than sitting down to a meal you’ve cooked yourself. Unless it’s burnt, still half frozen or splattered across your kitchen in a hellish mess that will have you cringing for days.
Jaidie, Meat Slow Cooker.
Recently, I moved into my own place and discovered a whole new world of cooking. I’d read tons of online posts and heard many of my friends talking about the wonder of cooking like this and only became familiar with it after I grew a pair of balls (or wings, depending on your preference) and moved into a place of my own. Considering that my kitchen is about the size of a stall in a public bathroom, I knew that I wouldn’t be throwing together giant feasts for the small number of people that can comfortably fit in my unit unless I could magically create more counter space than I had.
In walks a friend with a housewarming gift which would soon become my saviour. The slow cooker was unpacked and placed in its very own spot on the kitchen counter. It created a new way of cooking for me, one that I think I’ll never give up. Before I owned one of my own, I’d seen the slow cooker or crockpot as some people like to call it used specifically for soups, roasts or stews. I soon learned that this contraption could cook more than that.
So, Quit Rambling. What can it cook.
Since slow cookers became popular, people have written cookbooks, designed apps and built websites that are specific to crockpot recipes. I’ve looked at many of the apps and websites out there and have been overwhelmed by recipe choices. Curries, stews, soups, desserts, pasta recipes, breakfast foods, snack foods, roasts, you name it, there’s probably a recipe for it. There are options for making recipes from the plate up, but I often cheat, choosing to purchase recipe bases to make my job slightly easier, though it’s probably as easy as it could get now.
Alright, we know what it cooks, where can we get one of these and start cooking?
If you don’t already have a slow cooker, shame on you! No, it’s fine. They’re inexpensive and are easily obtainable online or in most if not all stores with appliance departments. I highly recommend having a look around to choose a size that suits your cooking needs. If you’re cooking for 6 or more people regularly, it may not be a good idea to get something like the 3-litre slow cooker. My slow cooker is Contempo branded and can hold 5 litres of food.
So, any tips?
While I’m no slow cooking pro, here are a few tips I’ve picked up along my cooking journey.
• Cooking rice in these things is not a good idea. It disintegrates. Cook your rice then throw it in the pot in the last half an hour so that it takes on the flavour of whatever you’re cooking. This goes for other things like pasta. If you’re having mashed potato it will be easier to cook and mash the potato before throwing it in the pot too.
• Grease the dish up. For some this might be an obvious pointer, but it’s a rooky mistake not too. Food will stick to the sides and bottom of the dish, making cleaning the thing a challenge.
• Know how long your recipe needs to cook for. I generally start mine at around 2:00PM and serve around 6:00 to 6:30. Some recipes may need a longer cook time, so check your recipe before you get cooking.
• Stir frequently. I like to check my food every half hour to hour. Stirring the food through allows all the flavours to mix in and prevents the bulk of food from sticking to the sides.
Ok ok, enough rambling.
This has been a long post and probably a boring one too. For that, I do or don’t apologise. Take your pick. To round up this long post I’ll say this. Slow cooking has more positives than negatives for me. Using a slow cooker is not for everyone, but it does make life easier especially if you’re hesitant around hot stoves with many pots and pans about. If you’ve cooked with a crockpot or slow cooker depending on what you call it, I’d love to know what you’ve cooked. Happy reading, and most important, happy cooking.