Warning: The attached article contains material that may be inappropriate for those who actually like to labor over a hot stove after getting the kids off to school, putting in an eight-hour day at the office, and shuttling the kids to various after-school activities, while squeezing in doing the laundry, cleaning the house, taking care of an aging car, trying not to look like an utter frump and still feel at least a little teeny bit sexy.
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I fell in love this summer. Seriously. It was unexpected and has changed my world. I thank my friend, Elaine, for introducing me to my new love: My amazing, high-end, shiny, brand new slow cooker. I’d always had slow-cooker fantasies. You know, coming home to mouth-watering wafts of rosemary, garlic, yummy stews after a long day at work. But I’d never gotten around to buying a slow cooker, and the fantasy was set on a dusty shelf in the deep recesses of my mind.
But when I was given a slow cooker as a housewarming gift by my friend, coinciding with my need to figure out how to have delicious, nutritious meals ready within an hour of my coming home with my children, the stars were indeed aligned, and it was time to turn fantasy into reality.
What I didn’t know about slow cookers is that cooking this way still requires some prep. Meats often need to be browned on the stove top, veggies need to be washed, chopped, and diced. But beyond that, once everything is in the cooker and the timer and temp are appropriately set, it does the rest. You are free, free, free to go to work, the gym, hike, nap, whatever. Five, six, eight, 10 hours later, you will return home to a cooked meal.
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But wait. This is what sealed the deal for me: When I made my first slow-cooked meal, not only was the dish done cooking when I trudged home, but the cooker had shifted to “warm” mode when the cooking was finished so that the meal was absolutely ready to be eaten the second we walk into the door. Now do you understand??? These are the benefits of slow-cooking:
Nutritious, Delicious Meals
Mainly fresh ingredients, cooked at a low temperature for a long period of time are used in slow-cooking. Consequently, nutrition-rich, natural juices from vegetables and meats are retained.
You’re not slaving over a pot for hours. All that’s required is the initial prep. Your slow-cooker is doing the work while you are doing whatever else you want or need to be doing.
Though we might associate warm, hot meals with wintertime, the beauty of slow-cookers is that you can use them any time of year. The perk of using one in the summer is that it eliminates the need to use the oven, eliminating the discomfort of making an already hot home hotter.
Reduced Energy Usage
Slow-cookers use substantially less energy than a conventional electric oven.
Except for a cutting board, cutting utensils, maybe one pan for browning, you’ll be cleaning up one pot. Nice.
A slow-cooked meal is easily transported. Just let cool and keep covered.
When shopping for a slow-cooker (commonly referred to as a Crock-Pot, which is a brand name), factor in how many people you cook for. Slow, medium and large slow-cookers are available. Many slow-cookers have a ceramic interior. My high-end love has a cast-iron pot, which means I can brown meats, veggies, etc., in that pot and just insert it into the cooker, making it truly a one-pot cooking experience. Need I say any more?