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Monday, April 28, 2014

Great American Slow Cooker Cook Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

The Great American Slow Cooker Book: 500 Easy Recipes for Every Day and Every Size Machine The Great American Slow Cooker Book: 500 Easy Recipes for Every Day and Every Size Machine by Bruce Weinstein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jacket Blurb:  The ultimate in slow-cooker books--with 500 recipes, each adapted for three sizes of appliance. From breakfast to soups, mains to grains, vegetables to desserts, this guide is the only book you'll ever need to master your slow cooker or crockpot.

Millions of people are turning to slow cookers for their weeknight meals yet often can't find recipes that match their exact machine. Adapting recipes meant for a different-size cooker doesn't work--getting the right level of spice in your Vietnamese soup or keeping pulled pork tender requires having ingredients in the right proportion. But now, Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough have decoded slow cookers, and each of their recipes includes ingredient proportions for 2-3 quart, 4-5 quart, and 6-8 quart machines, guaranteeing a perfect fit no matter what machine you own. Each recipe is labeled for its level of difficulty and nutritional value, and they cover every kind of dish imaginable: delicious breakfast oatmeals, slow-braised meats, succulent vegetables, sweet jams and savory sauces, decadent desserts. This is the slow cooker book to end them all.

I am a HUGE slow cooker fan.  I use my slow cookers/crockpots two-three times a week.  I use them for breakfast, lunches, suppers, beans; I've made soups, stews, lasagna, roast pork/turkey/chicken, and oatmeal.  The only thing I haven't done with my slow cooker is dye my own yarn, but apparently you can do that as well with a bit of koolaid. 

But I digress, I first saw a recommendation for this cook book in the Minneapolis Star Tribune: Dinner in the Slow Cooker (Jan 15, 2014).  It was accompanied by a couple of recipes that shouted "try me!".  So I did.  I liked both of them.  So I bought the book: Great American Slow Cooker Cook Book.

What has really grabbed my fancy with this cook book is the layout.  The authors give ingredient lists for 3 sizes of crock pots, NOT just one:  2-3 quart, 4-5 quart, and 6-8 quart size.  Very handy for those of us with only one or two people in a household.  I love the recommendations and tibits that accompany each recipe, perhaps a bit of background, how-to, or whatever.  I really like the difficulty ratings:  "not much", "a little", "moderate", "a lot"  -  which correlates to just how much chop and plop or hands on is expected of a person.

From what I've made so far (and it's been about 1 recipe a week), these are down to earth recipes that cover a wide variety of tastes and flavors.  You can go simple with a Minestrone Soup, or get your fancy on with Braised Oxtails (which I haven't tried).   And, as with a wide variety of tastes and flavors, there come a range of ingredients; some accessible to me, some not.  Which is fine.  There are so many recipes to choose from.  

And even though I've been using a slow cooker for years, I've learned a thing or two, such as: some dishes aren't meant to be cooked all day - like most chicken dishes.  Save those for the weekend.   A great meal can be prepped mid afternoon and be ready by dinner time.

I will also admit that I tend to be a bit loosey-goosey with my recipes - they are guidelines, not absolutes - I will sub vegetables, spices, and meats without much thought.  So far, not a problem with the recipes presented in this book.

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