The advantages of slow cooking
If you're too busy most days to make delicious, healthy meals for your family, there's no need to resort to greasy fast food or expensive restaurant meals. Slow cookers, also called crock pots, are affordable kitchen devices that heat a pot of food to the perfect temperature to cook slowly all day long. Feel free to leave for work or go about your busy day, because a crock pot is completely safe to leave unattended!
Slow Cooking Tips and Tricks
Slow cookers do not work like other heating devices, so it is important to select recipes created specifically for use in a crock pot or that have been adapted to that purpose. In general, slow cookers are best used for moist foods, such as casseroles, soups, stews and saucy roasts. However, the best crock pots may also have settings for drier foods, such as dry roasts, barbecue-style meats, roasted veggies and potatoes.
If you're adapting a recipe for your crock pot, it is often a good idea to use a bit less liquid than is called for. The sealed slow cooker tends to keep liquid in, whereas traditional recipes that involve boiling or simmering without a lid tend to lose moisture over time. Most moist recipes can be used as-is, but feel free to do some experimenting when making the switch from traditional cookware to a slow cooker.
Slow Cooker Brands
One of the earliest brands on the crock pot market was Swan. Swan slow cookers featured a heavy, ceramic crock, two temperature settings and a number of whimsical patterns and designs. Although the venerable Swan brand is now hard to find, it is a favorite of many and can still be purchased secondhand.
Today, Rival slow cookers are popular, especially the flagship VersaWare line. This premium crock pot features programmable cooking settings, a deluxe 6-quart crock and special handles that stay cool to the touch even when the crock has been going for hours.
If you're looking for a bit more versatility, choose the aptly named Versatility model from West Bend slow cookers. Not only can you cook all your favorite crock pot foods, but the base of this cooker also doubles as a small griddle that can cook eggs, pancakes, burgers and more.