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Slow Cooker - Worth it?

nicholel Jul 13, 2007 10:58 AM

I'm thinking about buying my boyfriend a slow cooker for his birthday next week. He's very fond of making stews and soups. Now I don't have a clue about these things. Does anyone have any advice on buying one? What are some good models? Any cookbooks recommended to go along with them?

  1. b
    baseballfan Jul 13, 2007 11:06 AM

    A slow cooker is great for stews, soups, chilis etc. It is such a treat to get home from work and have a delicious dinner waiting. You don't need to spend a lot for a good slow cooker. I would go to Target or Wal-Mart and check out their selection. My suggestion would be to buy one that has a removable liner so that you can prep the food the night before if needed and refrigerate. It also makes cleanup much easier. Secondly, look for one that has a programmable timer. That way if you are not home when the food is done, it will siwtch to a keep warm setting. You might also want to consider one that is oval instead of the traditional round. It makes easier to cook whole chickens and large cuts of meat.

    As far as books, I have seen several at Costco that looked good.

    4 Replies
    1. re: baseballfan
      j
      jujuthomas Jul 13, 2007 11:13 AM

      I second baseballfan's recommendations - I have 2 slow cookers, both ovals, in 2 sizes. I do wish mine had programmable timers. I have several slow cooker cookbooks, and the one I use the most is from the "fix it and forget it" series. It depends tho on what kind of food you like. If you like fancier stuff, that's not necessarily the book for you. the recipies in fix it and forget it are compiled from home cooks and have ingredients that are not hard to find and are usually already in my pantry.

      1. re: jujuthomas
        nicholel Jul 13, 2007 11:18 AM

        Fix it and Forget It sounds like a good idea for him - he's a good but extremely casual cook. Thanks. I'm off to Target now.

        1. re: nicholel
          revsharkie Jul 14, 2007 08:17 PM

          Yeah, that's a really good cookbook--there's actually more than one now, including a lowfat one. There are recipes in there for every meal, too, including some really nice breakfast casseroles.

          1. re: revsharkie
            j
            jujuthomas Jul 15, 2007 08:03 PM

            I actually have the "lightly" version of the cookbook - it's nice for us because it gives the nutritional information, which we use to determine the weight watchers points values. :)

            nicholel, I sure hope your boyfriend liked his gift, please post and let us know.

    2. ccbweb Jul 13, 2007 03:57 PM

      Rival makes a good set of slow cookers as does Hamilton Beach. You can get them in various sizes for about $25-40 on amazon. A 4qt one will be large enough to allow for a whole chicken, should he take a liking to doing that. For the money, they're one of the better values in useful kitchen appliances, I think.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ccbweb
        m
        MakingSense Jul 13, 2007 06:59 PM

        Like the way you put that about it being one of the "better values in useful kitchen appliances." The thing I just realized the other day is that it keeps on saving too.
        Our electric rates have gotten really high here so using the slow cooker for something instead of the oven is a real savings. I use it a lot in the summer because I don't want to heat up the house and have to run the A/C more. Even just making stock or beans throws so much humidity into the air that the A/C has to work overtime. I can do those overnight in the slow cooker for less energy cost.
        Just bought a 2 qt version for $10 that I'll use for small batches. I agree - good value that keeps on giving.

        1. re: MakingSense
          Candy Jul 14, 2007 04:14 PM

          I'll trade you my almost unused slow cooker for a pressure cooker.

      2. revsharkie Jul 14, 2007 08:20 PM

        Whatever you do, make sure you don't get a slow cooker that doesn't have a removable insert. (I don't know if they even make them this way anymore, actually.) My very first Crock-Pot didn't have that, and it was a major pain in the neck to clean because you couldn't immerse it.

        Also, I do NOT recommend the West Bend slow cooker where you have a pot that sits on top of a burner unit that can also double as a small griddle. I had no end of trouble with mine until I finally gave up and threw it out. (The cookbook that came with it, however, was really good.)

        1. Richard 16 Jul 15, 2007 10:27 PM

          So, what did you get?

          If you did already buy one, here's a tip for anyone else reading this thread wondering the same thing:

          Bigger is not ecessarily better or more flexible. I got my wife a 61/2 quart oval. Since the heating element seems to go up the sides (I'm guessing), smaller batches can brown and dry up on top.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Richard 16
            nicholel Jul 16, 2007 11:26 AM

            So - I bought the Rival 'Crockpot' oval 5 & 1/2 qt. It's programmable and has a removable insert. It was $40. It's pretty big so I have to figure how to wrap it and bring over the boyfriend's along with a bottle of Amarone.

            I'll let you know what he thought - I'm over to Barnes and Noble now to buy a Fix It and Forget It book.

          2. bards4 Jul 15, 2007 11:53 PM

            We received a Crock Pot with a removable ceramic insert 25 years ago for our wedding, and I am still using it! I love it for "fall apart" meat and for wonderful stews. It's a great appliance to have on hand if you are ever remodeling your kitchen -- we had some pretty wonderful meals when we had no kitchen to speak of. As far as recipes, there are good cookbooks -- I still use the old Crock Pot cookbook that came with it -- but don't overlook the abundance of great recipes on the web.

            1. m
              Muskrat Jul 16, 2007 11:51 AM

              They make crock pot inserts that you use once and toss, leaving the crock clean. Find 'em in the same place you find Glad wrap, baggies, etc.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Muskrat
                j
                jujuthomas Jul 16, 2007 12:02 PM

                i saw those, all i could think of was all those additional pieces piling up in the landfill. I'd rather just wash the pot. :)

                1. re: jujuthomas
                  e
                  EAH Aug 4, 2007 10:49 AM

                  Hey Jujuthomas, Thumbs up to you for doing your part, wish everyone had your attitude!!!!!!

                  1. re: EAH
                    j
                    jujuthomas Aug 4, 2007 06:37 PM

                    thanks - i do try to be a good recycler - especially since I drive a sports car that EATS gas! ;-)

                    I wish Nicholel would post how her b/f liked the slow cooker... :-D

                    1. re: jujuthomas
                      nicholel Aug 14, 2007 02:58 PM

                      He loved it! He's been making roast and soups with it. Unfortunately, I haven't been around the NYC area to try his creations. Thank you so much for you help.

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