Saturday, January 9, 2010

oh crock pot how do I love thee, let me count the ways

I can wax poetic on slow cookers/crock pots ad nauseum. As y'all know. But SERIOUSLY, they are AMAZING. (Crock pot is just the Rival brand name for slow cookers. That's what I have - the 4 qt red, actually two of them (on one, I broke the crock - but I've super glued it back together and it holds pretty well, so when I really need two - I'm set). It runs a bit hot.)

I have no recollection of when I first discovered them ... there may have been one in the house when I was a kid but I don't think my parents ever used it. Never lived with somebody who used one really.

But at least since moving here, I have been a fiend. Right now, as you can see, I'm making yogurt and black beans (just threw everything in so it doesn't look like it!). Also this week I'll make chicken makhani and probably either black bean chili or tamale pie with the black beans. Stephanie O'Dea's website makes me feel more sane about my crockpot lovin' because she's over-the-top.

A crockpot can be a great tool to help reduce costs. Actually I think that's how I got so obsessed - I use it to cook the garbanzos to make my own hummus.

If I were at a job and away from home for 10 hours or so, I would definitely get a crockpot with a timer, because most things don't want to cook that long. But it's also great for making a big pot for the week on the weekends when home more.

But I was just thinking today, Gail, about how GREAT a crockpot will be for baby food down the road. Those little containers of baby food are ridiculously expensive, and they add all sorts of icky stuff to some of them (seriously, what baby needs SUGAR added to sweet potatoes? PLEASE!). But a crockpot can cook vegetables and fruits down to very soft, and wouldn't take much attention at all, and you could freeze portions (or can).

That can also be a problem - crockpots can make mush out of vegetables. Some vegetables are definitely better added late in the cooking. It's just a matter of figuring out what works for you. It's really good for cooking things that want a long, slow simmer time - like sauces and soups whose flavors richen with time. Also good for frozen meats - can just throw it in and let it cook all day.

Also, it seems that most things I can make in the crock pot, I can freeze portions for later. My freezer runneth over!

OK, there is so much crockpot joy for me to share, but there are other things I need to do today besides stare in awe and wonderment at them. I'm curious how other people use them - if there are uses I haven't thought of.

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