Take it slow: Crockpots are answer to grandma’s wood-burning range

November, 2008 Posted in Food And Drink
Chicken in a Pot
2 carrots, sliced
2 onions, sliced
2 celery ribs, cut in 1-inch pieces
3 pounds chicken, whole or cut up
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ cup water, chicken broth, or white cooking wine

1. Place vegetables in slow cooker.
Place chicken on top. Add seasonings and water.

2. Cover. Cook on Low 8 – 10 hours,
or High 3 ½ – 5 hours
(use 1 cup liquid if cooking on High).

3. This is a great foundation for soups like chicken
vegetable or chicken noodle. Makes 6 servings.
Note: To make this a full meal, quarter two
medium-sized potatoes and add to
vegetables before cooking.
Raisin Nut-Stuffed Apples
6 – 8 medium-sized baking apples
2 tablespoons raisins
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup water

1. Core and remove top inch of peel from each apple

2. Mix together raisins and sugar.
Spoon into center of apples

3. Sprinkle with additional sugar and dot with butter.

4. Place apples in slow cooker. Add water.
Cover and cook on Low 7 – 9 hours,
or on High 2 ½ – 3 ½ hours. Serves 6

By Jan Jackson

If money is getting tight or time is running short, reach for a wonderful 1970’s-era electrical kitchen appliance that cooks your meal for you while you are off at work, sleeping or otherwise engaged – a slow cooker.

Before slow cookers were invented, my grandmother always had a big pot of soup or stew simmering on the back of her wood-burning cook stove.

Her recipes included a bit of meat, a handful of this and a handful of that and by the time it blended all day it smelled and tasted divine.

Lots of wonderful things come back in a new way and today’s slow cooker is one of them. How else can you eat so healthfully by taking a few inexpensive ingredients and still wow a crowd.

Today’s slow cookers are made for the too busy cook and there are free recipes on the Internet that make it easy to do it. If you don’t already have one (or you want a new one, a bigger one or a smaller one), here are some tips to help you get started.

• Slow cookers do their job whatever their size – 1 quart, 3 quart, 6 quart or in between. Little ones work well for singles or couples or to cook the vegetables while the beef stew burbles away in a larger cooker.

Crock pot cooking is convenient, just put the ingredients in the pot and come home to dinner.• Slow cookers prefer cheap cuts of meat. You can prepare ingredients for a dish one evening, store the filled “lift out” vessel in the refrigerator overnight, and then place it into its electric holder in the morning as you dash out the door. Or you can tote the whole works to a potluck while not worrying about damaging the quality of its contents.

• Unless you are cooking at the wrong temperature, have used too much or too little liquid, have let a dish cook too long, or have overfilled the crockery insert, there will be no burning, sticking or bubbling over.

• Never preheat an empty crockery insert before adding the food. Load the crock with the ingredients and then turn on the heat or plug in to start the heating process.

• Ideally, slow cooker crockery inserts should be filled from half full to no more than 1 inch from the rim. The best practice is to fill the insert one-half to three-quarters full because the heating elements are around the sides of the insert; this will give you the most even cooking and will help avoid spills as the heated contents expand

• Root vegetables cook more slowly than meat and poultry in a slow cooker so if you are using them, place the vegetables in first on the bottom and around the sides of the cooking vessel in a layered effect. Then add meat and cover the food with liquid such as broth, water or tomato or barbecue sauce.

• Tender vegetables and pasta overcook easily, so add them during the last 30 to 60 minutes of cooking. The same goes for cooking with any seafood.

• For the most control over seasoning, add that during the last hour as well.

From an inexhaustible list of appetizers, snacks, spreads, breakfast foods, breads, soups, stews, chilies, main dishes, vegetables, deserts and beverages you can make in a crock-pot, we selected two hearty fall recipes from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook; Feasting with your Slow Cooker by Dawn J. Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good, Good Books, Intercourse, PA 17534.

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