A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
This week we celebrate the versatility of the slow cookers, which can prepare a hot meal to enjoy in winter or be used in summer to prevent heating up the kitchen.
A couple of Christmases ago my sister-in-law made some terrific Chocolate Peanut Clusters. When I asked for the recipe, I was surprised to learn that she’d made them in her crockpot! She referred me to Stephanie O’Dea’s blog Crockpot365. Throughout 2008, O’Dea made something in her slow cooker every day, wrote a blog about it, and then published the results in a book called Make It Fast, Cook It Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking.
One thing I really like about this book is the author’s chatty comments about each recipe, no doubt arising from the book’s blogging origins. She tells you about her experience making the recipe, including such things as substitutions she tried, where she got the recipe, and how she used the leftovers. She also tells you how her husband and kids liked it, and whether she made any adaptations to make it more palatable to her young children.
Another thing I really like is that the recipes are often unusual for a slow cooker (peanut clusters being just one example). Many of them taste more like food you might get in a restaurant than the bland, soupy stuff I often associate with slow cookers. An added bonus is that the recipes are gluten-free. But if you have no problems with gluten, then you can just substitute regular ingredients when special items are used (such as gluten-free soy sauce) – nothing terribly unusual.
The first entree I tried from this book was the 20 to 40 Clove Garlic Chicken. Wow, I was blown away! No liquid, just the chicken, some onion, seasoning, a tablespoon of oil, and all that lovely garlic, peeled and put in unchopped. Really delicious with bread dipped in the sauce!
Another favorite was the Sundried Tomatoes and Feta Tri-Tip Beef recipe. Rich flavor and so simple to make! When I first made this recipe I couldn’t find tri-tip roast anywhere, so I asked the butchers at Dominick’s to help me. They said this cut was used more in the western states (O’Dea lives in California), and they suggested a top sirloin roast. Later I realized (duh) that Trader Joe’s carries tri-tip roasts in several flavors, including plain. Anyway, it was a good way for me to use up some home-grown tomatoes that I’d roasted and it was very tasty, even the leftovers!
Make It Fast, Cook It Slow is great if you want a company-worthy meal waiting for you at the end of the day. It also has lots of appetizers and desserts, and even recipes for soap and play dough.
Review by Nancy