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Friday, July 31, 2015

How to Use A Slow Cooker

During the school year, my slow cooker is my best friend.  I joke that my family wouldn't eat dinner without it, but it's true!  I love that I can make dinner in the early afternoon and have a meal waiting for me when I get home from after school activities.

Choosing a Slow Cooker

When I got married, we got a Crock Pot slow cooker as a wedding gift. I loved it and used it several times a week until the handles broke.  There was a recall on several models, but mine wasn't one of them.  I called them to see if they would replace it, but they wouldn't.  I used to make cheese dip in my slow cooker for pot lucks, so the thought of the handle breaking on me while it was in transport was more than a little scary!   Someone gave me another Crock Pot as a gift, so I stayed with that brand.  Again, the handles broke off.  And again, it wasn't covered under their warranty.  That was enough for me to switch.  I did some research, and I decided on a Hamilton Beach model.

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The Hamilton Beach here isn't the exact one I have because mine is seven or eight years old, but it has the same features.  My favorite feature is the lid.  It has a spoon rest, which is handy, but look at the sides.  It securely holds the lid in place for less heat loss.  This means I can start it on high for an hour and then switch to low for several hours. You can also leave it on high and cook for less time for some foods.  Soups and chicken do well cooked on high for less time, but I don't like to cook roasts on high for too long.

I also have another slow cooker that has a digital display like the one pictured above.  You can set it to turn on or off or even change from high to low at a certain time.  I don't need this because I work from home, but if you use it while you are working, it could be a great feature for you.

Like I said, I've had this slow cooker for seven to eight years.  Crock Pots were lasting about a year, so it was definitely worth the extra cost.  My crock cracked, so I picked up a spare at a thrift store for $1.50!  The crock has been cracked for about two years, but it doesn't leak, so I've kept using it.

Here are some more great tips to help you get the most out of your slow cooker.