Slow Cooker questions
My husband and I just bought a slow cooker - Hamilton Beach 6 qt Stay or Go (https://www.google.com/shopping/produ...)
and an Indian food cookbook (http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listin...) to go with it.
I noticed the recipes call for 5 qt slow cooker, so my first question is does it matter if we use a bigger cooker?
Does anyone have experience with the one we bought? Is it any good? Should we exchange it for a better one?
Any recommendations for great cookbooks for slow cookers would be greatly appreciated!
There are MANY slow cooker threads on both the Cookware and Home Cooking boards. Use the search box at the top right of the page, and the advanced search option once the results page appears.
If you are looking for good slow cooker results from just dumping ingredients into the pot and walking away, you will be disappointed for the most part. Most successful slow cooker recipes require searing or other precooking of ingredients on the stove.
Welcome to the CH community; I noticed this is your first post. First, the easy answer, you should not experience difficulty because of the 1 qt disparity in slow cooker size. Most of us who use slow cookers use what we have without buying a new one for each recipe. I have no idea what size mine is!
Take my advice with a grain of salt - you cannot substitute a 6 qt for a 3 qt without expecting difficulties, but subbing a 5 for a 5 should not be problematic.
What may prove to be more troublesome is the cookbook you've chosen. I read the 1 star reviews on Amazon and found there was serious dissatisfaction with the book. It is important to note that the reviewers did not sound like they were the grudge-against-the-world types, they sincerely wanted to like this book but found problems. Errors of spicing, timing mistakes, quantity errors were all noted. EX: rice using 2 1/2 C rice and 1 1/2 C water will not yield an edible product. If you are an experienced cook, you may make adjustments. From what I read, there could be unexpected pitfalls for a newbie. I wish you well on your adventure and hope my caution is misplaced.
NB: there is a blog dealing specifically with slow cookers - "A Year of Crock-Potting" which you may find helpful. As greygarious noted, there are loads of slow cooker threads on CH.
Thanks for your helpful replies! I'm thinking of returning the slow cooker for a Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven now:
as a trusted friend told me that he barely uses his slow cooker bc he never feels like braising meat in the morning, and I have a feeling I'd feel the same way. He suggested a Le Crueset dutch oven but as they are so expensive I'm looking at the cast iron one instead.
That was interesting about the cookbook - i must admit I didn't even look at the negative reviews because it was a friend who recommended the cookbook. However, I see your point. Need to give it some more thought.
Thanks again for your replies and I'll be sure to search for related posts before I post a question again.
Don't give up yet!
I absolutely love my slow cooker and find it so useful for cooking soups, beans, stews, making stock (chicken, veggie), and so many other things. you can poach chicken to use in other recipes, make oatmeal overnight for breakfast, make jams and apple butters. I make a big pot of soup and freeze some of it so I don't have to cook during the week or can bring to work for lunch.
Try finding some good slow cooker cookbooks at the library so you can test them out first. My favorites are:
- Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker - by Beth Hensperger.....comprehensive, and excellent!
- Slow Cooker Ready and Waiting - by Rick Rodgers...this was my first slow cooker book and everything I've made from here has been excellent
- 50 Simple Soups for the Slow Cooker - by Lynn Alley (she has written other slow cooker books as well). Very simple but lovely soups. I am surprised how good this book is!
I want to know what kind of slow cooker you have. And do you think the one we got would be okay if we decide to keep it? The negative reviews are all about the rubber and how it retains the smell of the food, or imparts its smell into the food... i don't know if I should believe it or not.
Thanks for the cookbook recommendations!!
I have a Cuisinart 4 qt. It's a good size for lots of purposes, but being smallish and round, you may not be able to fit larger roasts in it. The model I have is older, about 6 years old and not digital but it does have a timer that switches to "Warm" once the time you choose for cooking has elapsed.I think that is a super helpful feature!
I am relatively pleased with the Cuisinart but it's not perfect. I bought it mostly for the size and "warm" feature, plus it was on sale. If yours wasn't too pricey, you might first decide whether it has the features you want (ie timers etc) and if it is the size you'd like. If so, then it would be good to jump in and try it out.
Also, looking at some of the bigger slow-cooker books (like the "Not Your Mother's" one, which has a good range, not just the typical "American" slowcooker cuisine) you can get an idea of what it can be used for. She has recipes for roasted veggies (summer veg and winter root veggies), and cooking beets, baking potatoes etc.
Welcome to ChowHound. :)
I'm a huge proponent of slow-cookers; I have several sizes. They're a terrific way to cook but they're not "dump-n-go" if you want great food. If you've never cooked with them (and have a smallish family) I'd suggest a 1.5- or 2-qt to learn on, then purchase larger when you know how/what you like to cook.
But what I "hear" in your post is not that you have a burning desire to crock-pot, but that you want to try new recipes/methods (and I may be wrong on that, if so, apologies). I might suggest that you start from the aspect of "I'd like to learn to cook Indian dishes like _______" and look for cookbook suggestions; use your current cookware until you see what limitations it causes, then buy the new device/pot/grill/etc.
Just my 2 cents. More than happy to lead you to good crockpot threads or help advise on recipes. :)
(edited to correct egregious typo lol)
Hey - thanks! I think you are right. I just feel the need to expand my repertoire. I'm interested in Indian Cooking, and new ways to cook meats. I want to make more soups and would love to make apple butter.
I have two kids ages 7 and 1.5 so I've got to figure out dishes that they will eat but that I would like too. My husband is trying not to eat so much meat,, so I can't start cooking meat all the time...
The kids keep me pretty busy and it's hard to get any really involved cooking in, so that was another reason for my interest in the slow cooker. I thought, if this can make my life easier some how, maybe it's worth it?
But not i'm thoroughly confused! I don't know if I should just try it out or return it?
If you want to lead me to some crockpot threads that might clarify this for me, I'd appreciate it.
I'm an incredibly indecisive person so I can tell this is going to be a hard one to figure out.
Your family may do okay with the 6-qt; slow cookers work okay when filled at least 1/2 full, better 3/4 full. Just be prepared for some failures that only the adults may (or may not) eat (freeze individual portions for lunches if edible), but you will need a backup plan when trying new recipes. That's why I suggest a smaller pot to start; you can trial-then-perfect recipes, then move up to the larger pot; you'll still find uses for the 2-qt pot.
Here's a few threads on busy family cooking that may give some ideas:
And here's a search string on "make ahead meals" suggested by greygarious in another thread:
What kind of stove do you have? I find that I could often take or leave a slow cooker if I'm cooking with an electric stove, but it seems like with a lot of gas stoves, the flame won't go low enough or isn't even enough to simmer reliably, especially if it's a small amount of food.
The cookbook you bought is pretty good. You should definitely try out the aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry dish). Not a meal you'd make and leave all day, but great for lazy days around the house when you don't feel like cooking.
The Company's Coming series also does a good basic slow cooker book, and I found it very useful when I was first starting out using my slow cooker. I found it helped to broaden my horizons on what could be made in a slow cooker and also prepared me a little for more complicated uses.