Restaurant News & Reviews

On the Menu: Slow cookers save time, allow varied meals

Lamb Shanks in Tomato Sauce from “The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals From Around the World,” by Lynn Alley, is a recipe fit for company.
Lamb Shanks in Tomato Sauce from “The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals From Around the World,” by Lynn Alley, is a recipe fit for company. Tribune News Service

Many workaday folks like slow-cooker machines to prepare a variety of weekday meals that require less effort at the end of the day. Others enjoy the simplicity of one-pot meal preparation, using their slow cookers for dishes as diverse as roasts, stews and casseroles — even desserts and steel-cut oats for breakfast.

“It’s like you’re not even cooking,” said Sandy Riley, who lives in the Barkley neighborhood of Bellingham. “Put whatever your heart desires in it in the a.m., by the p.m. it’s done. I just use my imagination. You can’t ruin anything you put in there.”

Consumer Reports magazine evaluated both high- and low-priced slow cookers in an October 2015 article, concluding that price didn’t affect performance. Several manufacturers recommend a 5- or 6-quart model for a family of four that cooks whole chickens and larger cuts of meat.

It’s like having a helpful robot make my dinner for me.

Haley Apollo, Bellingham

For recipes, search online or try one of the best-selling cookbooks such as the “Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook” by Phyllis Good or “Slow Cooker Revolution” by America’s Test Kitchen.

Here’s what Whatcom County residents said about their slow cookers, in response to social media inquiries:

1. “Oh my word! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my slow cooker,” said Alishia “Smock” Joubert of Sudden Valley “I love the books ‘Fix-It and Forget-It’ and ‘Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly.’ I also search Pinterest for ideas. Freezer meals that I can make ahead of time and throw in the cooker are so helpful on crazy weeks. I use my Crock-Pot at least twice a week.”

2. “It’s like having a helpful robot make my dinner for me,” said Haley Apollo, who lives in the Roosevelt area of Bellingham.

3. James Adam of Sudden Valley still has his original trademarked Crock-Pot and makes “beef Stroganoff, chili and spaghetti sauce and my favorite — peach cobbler with red raspberries.”

4. “I was continually underwhelmed with my slow cooker. It seemed that every meal was either full of processed ingredients or required so much prep that the kitchen was still a war zone,” laments Shannon Kizer of Sudden Valley. She prefers a pressure cooker to the slow cooker, “until I read about cooking beans in it. Four hours on high to get perfect beans without soaking.”

5. Robbie Teela Harris of Ferndale remains a fan, however: “I try to use it at least once a week. The usual things I cook in it are chili, stew, pot roast. I like allrecipes.com for ideas.”

Robert Mittendorf: 360-715-2805, rmittendorf@bhamherald.com, @bhamMitty

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