Cooking & Recipes

Slow-Cookers Are a Mother’s Best Friend

September 23, 2014
Slow-Cookers Are a Mother’s Best Friend

Always on the go?

All mothers are going through this. In a rush every morning, making sure kids have all they need for their day at daycare or at school, making sure they eat good meals, driving them to piano lessons, soccer practices, doctor’s appointments, doing errands, cleaning, planning, cooking and often working part or full time on top of it. Mothers are definitely busy. For those who haven’t discovered the benefits of the slow-cooker yet, now is time to get to know this small kitchen appliance that is sure to soon become your best friend!

What not to do

Cooking with a slow cooker is fairly easy. Just putting everything in there, programming your settings and walking away is pretty much all you need to do. However, there are a few advices you can follow to make things even tastier.

When I got my first slow-cooker, over 20 years ago, I recall I had a slight tendency to put too much liquid in there, hoping the juices and broth would thicken during cooking. All of the meals I cooked ended up being halfway between a stew and a soup, and I had to set the “solid” food aside while I would put some cornstarch or flour in the cooking juices I had collected to thicken them in a saucepan before serving. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. And, everything simmering in liquid for hours most of the time tasted bland.

Then I learned that searing the meat before putting it in there goes a long way in making anything I cook in my slow-cooker tastier. This kind of locks the sugars and juices of the meat inside, thus greatly improving the flavor.

Another thing that greatly helps is to prepare all of you ingredients and browning your meat the night before, put everything in the slow cooker’s insert, and then put it in the fridge overnight. This means you can also wash all the dishes and preparation tools, such as wood cutting boards, at night, so you don’t have to start cooking even before your morning coffee. All you need to do is take out what you prepared the night before and set your slow cooker before leaving for work. When you get home at night, your home will smell real good and dinner will be ready!

Do You Need to Buy a Slow-Cooker?

If you need to shop for one, here are a few things to look for:

  • No matter the size of your family, I would recommend a 5 or 6 quart slow cooker. Even though it will take some space in your cupboards, a bigger one will be able to hold larger pieces of meat or a whole chicken. That way you can have enough food for dinner, and leftovers to freeze for later.
  • Handles are handy if you need to carry it around, and a locking lid is a clever addition should you want to take it over to a potluck or to a family gathering.
  • If you can afford a model with a cast-aluminium insert, you will be able to brown your meat in it on the stovetop before putting it back in the slow cooker. Hurray for less dishes!
  • There are also models that switch to an automatic warming setting after cooking time is over, to ensure everything is still warm and ready in case you get home a little later than expected.

Slow cookers are great to cook all kinds of comfort food. Plenty of recipe books are available either online or at your local library. They are a must-have in your kitchen, especially with temperatures getting colder these days!

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