Oh Dear Reader- Do I have a treat for you!!!
My dear bloggy bud Ginger (or the Crockpot Queen as I call her ) over at Crockpot Recipe Exchange has graciously accepted my request to share some of her Super Mommy Secrets to making her crockpots work to her advantage.
I am so excited to share her post with you today, ’cause Miss Ginger knows her stuff folks!
Ever since late 2010 I’ve been stalking Cris….. well, maybe not stalking…. but following Goodeness Gracious closely. She cracks me up with her down to earth, but oh so true happenings in life. And her “good food”, as she calls it, is pretty darn ….. well, GOOD!
Cris has made some darn good crockpot meals. What impresses me about this is she always has such great instructions and pictures that make it look very effortless. If you’ve ever had a crock pot fail I’m sure you’re wondering “How the heck does she do that?!”
Well, that’s what I’m going to help y’all with today. I know most everyone owns a crock pot (look DEEP into your cupboards…. I’m sure there’s one there somewhere), but few people put them to any kind of regular use. There could be several different reasons for this. One reason is usually because the one time most people tried to use their crock pot it turned out something burnt or something so mushy and gross they swore off cooking with them EVER again.
Know Your Temps
Let me start off by really emphasizing that all crock pots (or slow cookers as I’ve heard them called) cook differently. The single most important thing you can remember is to get to know your crock pot. Know where any hot spots may be. Know what temperature high, low and warm settings are. You can go here to learn how to do this.
The Right Technique
The second thing I want to tell y’all is cooking in your crock pot is more about the technique than the recipes. Let me explain:
If you start out with a brand new shiny crock pot and decide to tackle a recipe for your first use that is loaded with starches and dairy products it’s inevitable that it will more than likely be a crock pot fail. Those things are usually taboo in crock pot cooking, but can be done….. once you get to know your crock pot.
To remedy this unfortunate crock pot fail, start with something like a brothy soup or a stew. Once you’ve made some easier recipes such as this in your crock pot you will see how it produces condensation (if it adds more liquid to the recipe OR if it allows the steam to escape, making the liquid content about the same as you started with). It will also give you the confidence to take the next step…. something like a beef or pork roast, maybe with some veggies. Once you cross these bridges in crock pot cooking you will be fearless (and you could end up loving them so much you own 7 or 8 of them…. don’t judge)!
Thirdly I will say to you PREPARE THE NIGHT BEFORE SO YOU’RE JUST DUMPING STUFF INTO YOUR CROCK POT IN THE MORNING!! Most of us tend to be running around like chickens with our heads cut off at much too early to speak about times in the AM. I always try to do any chopping, dicing or slicing the night before and put those things in a zip top bag or (in the case of white potatoes) in a container with salt water. I also brown any ground meats the night before and refrigerate those as well. This preparation will make it super easy on you in the morning when your chasing a toddler and a man that’s acting like one ‘cause he stayed up too late watching reruns of Storage Wars (I’m just sayin’). The point is you don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes opening cans and putting your other ingredients into a crock pot early in the morning. If you do spend a lot of time doing that in the morning you’ll think to yourself “I could’ve just waited ‘til I got home and cooked it on the stove!” which would defeat the WHOLE purpose of using the crock pot to come home to an already cooked meal.
Let It Work for You
The fourth thing I want to point out to y’all is don’t be afraid to let your crock pot do some of the work for you. With the aforementioned toddler (well, toddlerS if you count the husband that acts like one (o: ) I don’t always have the time to stand over the stove and watch marshmallows or chocolate melting. I’m constantly using my crock pot to make desserts, which tend to be done quicker than maindishes. The crock pot also takes the worry out of my 4 year old getting burned by a hot stove eye or hot pot or pan. Using it to do most things has truly given me peace of mind. You never know when you need to walk away, and a crock pot let’s me do that with ease.
I’ll wrap this up and leave you with one final thought….. CHALLENGE YOURSELF! If you think that crock pot cooking is not for you or you are hesitant to use a crock pot, challenge yourself to make one meal a month in a crock pot. Baby steps, right? Then go to one meal a week. It can be something simple that you start with such as a crockpotofpintobeans to go with your grandma’s recipe for cornbread (which we had every Thursday night when I was a kid), or overnightcrockpotoatmeal. Whatever you start with though know this, CROCK POTS ROCK!