Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Great American Slow Cooker Book {a Blogging for Books review}

It's summer, and I truly hate to heat up my kitchen just to make a meal.  The slow cooker is my friend, truly, but I have a pretty limited repertoire.  The idea of 500 easy recipes appealed to me.

So I put in to review The Great American Slow Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

When the book arrived, I was immediately impressed.  Let me list off a couple of reasons for that:
  • Each recipe includes the quantities to prepare it for three different sized slow cookers.  With seven in my family, I'm sure I will nearly always use the largest size.  But I like that I can still use this cookbook when my three teens are at camp.
  • The majority of the recipes use normal ingredients.  Not all are "normal" in my household, but I don't recall seeing a single ingredient where I thought "Where in the world would I find that?"  Some ingredients are not things I'd have on hand (chickpeas, for Chicken and Chickpea Stew, for example) but I did recognize everything.
  • Each recipe is rated for how much effort it takes, with common sense labels.  Not much -- for a recipe like sweet and Sticky Country-style Ribs, where you are putting ribs in the cooker, whisking 7 ingredients together, and dumping them over the ribs.  A little -- for a recipe like Spicy Country-style Ribs with Fried Garlic, where you put 10 ingredients together in the cooker, add the ribs, coat them; and then saute garlic and add it to the cooker.  A lot -- for a recipe like Pork Shoulder in Creamy Mushroom Sauce, where you brown the meat in a skillet, saute onions, add broth, scraping the crusty bits from the skillet, put most stuff in the cooker; and finally pull the cooked meat out, put the sauce into a saucepan, and add cream and chives. 
  • Each recipe also gives you three times -- prep time, cook time, and how long it will keep on warm.
  • Each recipe has "Tester's Notes" where comments like "Make sure the flour has truly dissolved in the milk and wine..." on the Vegetable Pot Pie recipe.
  • Some recipes include "Ingredients Explained" where things like the difference between light corn syrup, dark corn syrup, and reduced-calorie corn syrup are explained (in the recipe for Dulce de Leche).
There are recipes for all kinds of things in here, from breakfasts, to side dishes, to main dishes of all sorts, to desserts, to drinks.

I've tried a few recipes, with varying results.  Some, I need to tweak a bit to change the spices.  Some were just super-simple and perfect as written.

Bottom line:  This is a fabulous resource.  Well worth the purchase.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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