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26 October 2009

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow

cooking in the Crockpot

In 1977, my 11-year-old self felt daring by staying up late for Saturday Night Live. Those were the best years, the Gilda Radner as Emily Litella saying "Never mind" years, the Wild and Crazy Guy when Steve Martin hosted years, the John Belushi as samurai guy years. You know, the funny years.

For some reason, of all the brilliant sketches I watched in my pajamas in the den with the shag carpeting, one of the bits I remember best was Garrett Morris dressed as a West African man on Weekend Update, asking for fondue sets.

"Namibia is an undeveloped nation, and we are appealing to you as world citizens. We need your fondue sets. Many people in the United States received these fondue sets as gifts for anniversaries, birthdays and housewarmings, and often put them up on a shelf and forget about them. There are thousands of Namibian housewives who could cheer up an otherwise dull dinner party with one of these sets. Oh, please think, please give, please send."

(Does anyone else remember this, or am I the only weirdo that thinks of this when she hears fondue?)

Fondue sets, with the little Sterno cans blazing brightly beneath them, and the tiny-tined forks ready for dipping, had already become a joke by 1977.

For years, that's how I used to think of slow cookers too.

Your mother had a slow cooker. You wondered what it was. It sat in the back of the pantry, gathering dust, the wide stoneware pot a place to put bowls and potholders. Maybe she pulled it out once in awhile to make some soup. Or maybe she took it to the thrift store one day in a wild cleaning binge, where it joined the 82 other slow cookers available for $2 each.

(That slow cooker probably was never as dusty as the iron in my parents' closet. When my brother was 8, he tugged on the stretchy striped cord, and it nearly toppled on his head. "What's this?" he asked. This was the age of polyblends and never-wrinkle fabric, after all. We had never seen it used before.)

Times have changed, of course, and doubled back on themselves. People have a sudden, passionate interest in canning, preserving, and making jams. We're growing gardens and learning how to compost. Half the cast of those years on Saturday Night Live are dead, the rest are grey-haired and kind of haggard, but the slow cooker is coming back.

I'm sure the folks who make the Crockpot are thrilled to bits. Especially now that Stephanie O'Dea's book, Make It Fast, Cook It Slow has been published. They should probably send her a lifetime supply of new crockpots.

If you don't know Stephanie's book, you might have heard of her blog, A Year of Slow Cooking. Compelled by that now-ubiquitous drive to do something for an entire year, Stephanie vowed to make dinner every night in her slow cooker. All I could imagine when I read her blog is that she must have lined up 10 or 15 slow cookers on her countertops for all the cooking she was doing. She began the blog, as so many of us do, with no idea of what would happen to her. Within a few months, she got lots of attention, ended up on the Rachael Ray Show, got a book deal with Hyperion, and appeared on Good Morning America last week.

Turns out that slow cookers can do some amazing things.

And, by the way, she and her family eat gluten-free. So with all this publicity also came good news for us gluten-free folks.

With this kind of build-up, and our mission to cook out of one cookbook each week, Danny and I decided to pull our slow cooker out of the pantry and plug it in.

 Lu helped me to bake for the first time.

And you know what? I enjoyed this much more than I imagined.

The only time I used the slow cooker in a consistent fashion was the last year before I met Danny. Still teaching high school, and so prying my eyes open in the darkness at 6, I sometimes seared a piece of meat and tossed it into the slow cooker, along with onions and celery, herbs and potatoes. By the late afternoon, when I returned home on the bus, the simmering smells pulled me up the stairs, where I found a lovely braised dish waiting for me.

But then I met Danny, and I stopped teaching high school. We began spending most of our time in the kitchen. The slow cooker was tucked away in the back of the cupboard.

Then, Little Bean turned into a toddler.

I never sit down anymore, unless I am writing at night. She walks with confidence, no longer holding her hands up to balance herself. (For weeks, she looked as though she was saying, "I surrender!" as she wobbled across the living room floor.) In fact, she's nearly running. We play music and dance, then she walks to the blocks, knocks some over, tries to get into the kitchen cupboards, slides her way into the one-inch space between the playpen and the wall to squirm past the barrier and run to the computer room to stand on her tiptoes to touch the mouse. Repeat, all over the house, with books and food and plush stuffed bunnies she hugs to her chin then drops like an old boyfriend. That's about 20 minutes. Repeat, again and again — adding talking and eating and playing and laughing — for hour upon hour, again and again, and you have one happy, healthy toddler, and one exhausted mama.

(Danny has been working a couple of days a week, so those are the days I'm on my own. When he's home, we tag team. There's a bit more rest. And on the afternoons where I'm pushing against deadline, Danny chases Little Bean around the house and ends up one exhausted papa.)

I love it. Every moment of it. Okay, not the moments when I'm so exhausted I could cry. Or the moments when I cannot stand in the kitchen for longer than ten minutes without her clinging to my pants, or figuring out the baby locks on the cupboard under the sink.

During those hours, there's not much elaborate cooking going on in our kitchen. And on those days, the slow cooker was a lifesaver.

Especially when I noticed that Little Bean was fascinated by the process. She's sturdy enough on her feet now that I could set her on a chair, next to me at the counter top. While I chopped yams and shallots for a stew later that night, she played with measuring cups and bottles of vanilla extract. We were cooking together.

(And actually, the photos from above are when we first baked together. That devastated me.)

That stew tasted better that night than I expected.

baked oats become oatmeal bars

So Make It Fast, Cook It Slow helped me to slow down and enjoy this more, knowing we'd still have a good dinner at the end of the night.

A number of the dishes made satisfying meals for us, dinner and lunch. The presidential chili in the book (based on a recipe for Obama's favorite chili, apparently) simmered all afternoon. By the time that Tita, John, and Meri showed up for dinner, it smelled like peppers and turkey, chiles and smoked paprika mingled. And better yet, I had bowls of warm food to feed my friends only half an hour after putting the exhausted toddler to bed. We enjoyed the chipotle chicken with sweet potatoes, although I will advise you to use less chipotle than we did. Simmer that all day and the roof of your mouth might come off with the first bite.

That's where slow cookers work best, I think. Chilis and stews, braised meats and main courses. There are plenty of those in Make It Fast, Cook It Slow, including the Indonesian peanut butter chicken curry I still want to make.

Not everything worked so well. I was genuinely excited about the slow cooker recipe for homemade yogurt, because I'd love to make our own. Little Bean could eat her weight in yogurt every day, it seems. However, at the end of the all-day process, I ended up with a jug of slightly thickened milk. (O'Dea put a packet of gelatin in the ingredients list but suggested it is optional. I'd like to suggest that with this recipe it's essential.)

We made the baked oatmeal recipe, using certified gluten-free oats, because O'Dea's description appealed so well. "The flavor is sweet, and it tastes like a huge oatmeal cookie." However, at the end of 4 hours, it didn't really hold together. It was a bit like dried-out oatmeal, with shriveled prunes.

However, we're going to make the recipe again, because we figured out something new to do with it. We let the baked oats cool, then beat 5 egg whites to stiff peaks. After combining them, we pressed the dough into a square pan and slid them into the oven. 15 minutes later, we had oatmeal bars.

Little Bean ate half of them.

And then there were the recipes I'm not likely to make in the slow cooker, if at all. Danny refused to do any of the seafood dishes in the slow cooker. ("You'll ruin the salmon," he told me.) I'm not sure he was right, looking at the dishes, particularly the seafood stew. But he was eating too, and we had to agree on the recipes. I dislike the cloying sweetness of a pumpkin spice latte at the coffee shop, so I wouldn't make it in the crockpot, either. And while I love the home-crafted spirit of the recipes, I'm not likely to make crayons in the slow cooker. Or candles, either.

Let's face it. Danny and I are not the target audience for this book. When we're not chasing the toddler around, we still spend more time in the kitchen than any room in the house. (Every day, she's spending more time there too.) We're finishing up a cookbook. We love to be in front of the stove.

But I think this book would be perfect for someone who is recently diagnosed with celiac, or who doesn't trust her cooking skills yet. As O'Dea wrote: "I am not the best in the kitchen, and before this challenge, had no idea which spices went well together and why. I have certainly expanded my culinary expertise through this exercise, but I would never consider myself to be a good cook. I like having fun. I treat the Slow Cooker as an Easy-Bake oven for grown-ups."

That's what I love about O'Dea's voice, and I why I think you would too. She's honest. She'll tell you when a dish didn't work. She lists what her young kids thought of each dish so that you can avoid the sight of a plate untouched. She's funny and confident and wonderfully accessible.

So many people will benefit from this book. So many people will start cooking after reading Make It Fast, Cook It Slow. That's the only point, for all of us, in all this work — that more and more people move into the kitchen and begin to feel confident.

And I can tell you this: our slow cooker is not going back into the pantry after this week. This has inspired me to throw in some grits before we go to bed, so Little Bean can have some breakfast when she wakes up ravenous. I will still be simmering stews and soups, long into this winter.

The fondue pot, however? That went to Namibia.

We were sent this cookbook by Hyperion, and we were grateful to receive it. Now, we'd like to offer a copy to the next person who would like to use it. Stephanie has kindly volunteered to send out a signed copy herself! Tell us a story about slow cooking, or cooking with toddlers, or your favorite autumn stew, and we'll choose a comment at random and send you this book!

spiced pumpkin soup with roasted pumpkin seeds

Jamaican Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk, adapted from Make It Fast, Cook It Slow

Danny can't resist fiddling with a recipe the second time he makes it. It's in his nature. But he has always told me: make every recipe once, as written, then make it yours.

We are hoping you do that with our cookbook.

So we made this pumpkin soup in the slow cooker, using the suggested spices and servings. It was good. But it felt just a little flat to us. Maybe that's because I didn't grate the fresh ginger into the soup, the way we should have. (I must have been tired when I read this.) So we added a touch more ginger, a touch more nutmeg, more than a pinch of salt.

Stephanie suggested finishing the soup with cream. But Danny wanted to try coconut milk, to make this soup gluten-free and dairy-free.

Hell yeah. This soup is so easy to make, if you have a slow cooker, an immersion blender, and a can of coconut milk. It's full of fall spices, with the subtle sweetness of pumpkin, and a touch of something wonderful with the coconut milk.

3-pound fresh pumpkin
1 red onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 yams, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon sugar
6 cups water 5 ounces coconut milk, more or less, depending on your taste
1 tablespoon pumpkin seed oil (you can substitute olive oil if you don't have pumpkin)

Preparing the pumpkin. Cut both ends off the pumpkin. Peel the skin with a sharp knife. Cut the pumpkin in half. Scrape away the seeds. Wash the pulp off the seeds, then set them aside. Chop the pumpkin flesh into 8 pieces.


Cooking the soup. Put the pumpkin pieces, the red onion, celery, yams, garlic, and ginger into the slow cooker. Sprinkle in the salt, turmeric, allspice, nutmeg, and sugar. Pour in the water. Stir it all up. Cover the crock pot and cook the soup on low, for about 8 hours.

Finishing the soup. When the soup is fully cooked and smelling delicious, pour in the coconut milk. Stir up the soup and let it simmer until the coconut milk is fully incorporated. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until is completely blended. Taste the soup, then season with salt and pepper, and touch more nutmeg, to taste.


Toasting the pumpkin seeds. Put the pumpkin seeds in a nonstick pan on the stove, over low heat. Drizzle them with the pumpkin seed oil. Move the pan around on the burner, occasionally, until the seeds are toasted, about 10 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

Feeds 8.

118 Comments:

At 10:48 AM, Anonymous Beth said...

My girls aren't toddlers any more, so I can tell you that the days of chasing around a small person who's a constant danger to herself and everything around her do pass. Mostly. :) My kids are sometimes fascinated by the slow cooker, primarily, I think, because we can toss everything in there, close it up, and push a couple of buttons, and then it sits on the counter blinking like a little spaceship about to take off until, *beep* the things inside have magically turned into dinner! That said, they have yet to eat anything that comes out of the slow cooker with much enthusiasm, including the lovely and simple chicken curry we made last week. My 4 year old was happy to pour in chopped tomatoes, green peppers, mango chutney, a heap of curry powder and a bit of corn starch slurry, and to put on the lid and press the button. But after one forkful of the admittedly pretty spicy concoction, she declared, "I can't eat this because my teeth are on fire!" Oh, well. :)

 
At 10:55 AM, Anonymous La Niña said...

Saturday Night Live to fondue to Crockpots and stew- you just "braised" a great story!

Shauna- your life is as full as that Crockpot- just remember to slow down and enjoy every morsel.

No Crockpots in this house, so no need for the book-just sending my love.

 
At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Heather said...

The day after we arrived home from Central Europe with our newly adopted 4 year old son, I was listlessly wandering a department store, looking for size 12 month clothes to fit him. I randomly threw a slow cooker in my basket. It saved my life, I swear. That tiny preschooler needed to be held at all times, spoonfed, rocked, and sung to. I never had a moment in the kitchen! Meanwhile, whatever I blindly threw into the pot that morning became a lovely dinner (most days). My little boy is now a growing, thriving (gluten and dairy free) third grader who still loves to see what might appear from the soup pot at dinner time.

 
At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Jessica said...

I love my slow cooker. While I prefer to cook meals on my own - I enjoy the process and find throwing everything in one pot for 8 hours is boring - I also love the days when I CAN throw things in there.

 
At 11:09 AM, Anonymous Crystal Thomas said...

I use my slow cooker all the time. I was inspired by Stephanie and The Year of Slow Cooking blog. I still frequent the blog for new and exciting slowcooking recipes and ideas

 
At 11:13 AM, Blogger Mama JJ said...

Send your fondue pot to us! My kids love fondue---it's often the requested meal for birthdays.

Actually, on second thought, save the pot for yourselves and in a couple years Little Bean will put it to good use---she and her little friends will sit around a table gleefully dipping their fruits and veggies into a pot of bubbling cheese... A wonderful tea party indeed.

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger Engineer Baker said...

I don't think my parents even owned a crockpot - the joy of growing up with a professor father who loved to cook. We were much more likely to have those slow cooked meals on weekends anyway. I own one, but have probably only used it 2 or 3 times - I just love being there when I cook, smelling everything as it bubbles and burbles.

And the image of Lu - oh, how I wish I could see her! Running headlong through life is the way to do it!

 
At 11:16 AM, Blogger amy said...

We were just talking about researching a good recipe for pumpkin soup. Perfect timing Shauna--it looks amazing. :)

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger J. said...

This sounds wonderful! I sometimes have trouble finding vegetarian crockpot recipes so I can't wait to try it. Thanks so much.

 
At 11:26 AM, Anonymous beyond said...

i have never used a slow cooker before. they always make me think of beverly cleary's ramona. i think there's a slow cooker story in one of the books where they forget to turn it on one morning and then the parents blame each other that there is no dinner. that really left an impression on me.
sweet little bean is growing!

 
At 11:40 AM, Blogger Linda said...

I found Stephanie's site last year. I've made many of her recipes. I love McCain's ribs.
The crockpot really helps on days when I can't be in front of the stove without resorting to something premade.

 
At 11:45 AM, Blogger caroline said...

I just can't get into slow cooking, maybe because I don't eat meats and prefer vegetables that are barely cooked.

Slow cookers are also impractial, in a way. Crockpot recipes usually require cooking times of 6-8 hours, but the typical professional is gone for 10-12 hours during the workday. The only time I can really use my crockpot is overnight or during the weekends, but I'd usually prefer to be actively cooking then. I have done the overnight oatmeal a couple times and it's pretty good.

 
At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Natalie from MD said...

I don't have toddlers, or any kids yet, but with a new job more than an hour away from home each way, I have no time to cook the kind of meals I should be eating!

My favorite autumn stew is made from fresh ingredients from our farmers market, including lamb that I buy directly from the farmer! The broth is made with the chicken stock I made from a happy chicken from Springfield Farms. Fresh carrots, onions, yukon gold potatoes, and a little bit of spice.

This was my first meal to be able to make 100% local and organic. I finished it off with some gluten free dumplings (my favorite!)- just gluten free all purpose flour, egg and salt.

I've always been interested in trying to crock pot!

 
At 11:59 AM, Blogger Jovigal said...

Love the pictures of Little bean! How cute she is! It reminded me of my son who started cooking by my side from the time he could stand. He's six now, and loves to cook and bake with me. He loves to help throw stuff in the crockpot, and is always thrilled to taste the concoctions he's made. I don't think he understands yet that the things that go in have a purpose, he just thinks that whatever you throw in it tastes great. My daughter hates to cook, but loves to bake. She also doesn't like to eat, so the crockpot doesn't interest her at all. Can't win them all I guess lol But I can say, I'm glad to hear you have found the joy of a crockpot. Mine comes out once a week or so, and has saved my sanity many times :)

 
At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Chantel said...

I love slow cooking. I own 5 crockpots, and use them all regularly. At first, most of the recipes I made didn't come out very well, and I felt like giving up on it. However, the lure of convenience won out and I kept trying. My efforts were rewarded by discovering and developing many delicious recipes. I can't imagine throwing a party or hosting a holiday without using my crockpots for something! It is so wonderful to be able to have the food finished and waiting when the guests arrive so I can spend more time with them.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger NotCarol said...

I grew up in a non-cooking house where boiling pasta was a pretty big deal and the two or three days a year when my dad made bread from scratch were more exciting than christmas.

I started doing the cooking when I was 11 or 12 because we were either going to eat a) at a restaurant b) from the microwave or c) whatever someone other than my mother made to eat. I've loved cooking and really embraced the challenge of gluten free cooking over the past couple of years.

I have always wanted to instill in my child that same love. The artistic expression of cooking, the outlet, the unmeasurable benefits of cooking dinner from scratch. On the second day home from the hospital we made dinner together for the first time, with her tucked snugly into the baby carrier. Before she was mobile I would set her in her pod chair on the counter while we cooked. It is different now.

Now, cooking with my toddler (who is nearly four) is one of my favorite things about being her mom. It is "our thing", "our kitchen" where our collection of matching aprons hang side by side from the tall cabinet on dragonfly hooks.

It is really something to watch her grow in confidence about what she can do or what would taste good mixed together. She has a stool that folds and unfolds around the room so that she can reach everything on the counters and mostly everything in the cabinets anymore.

She is a great and adventurous eater and she loves, loves, loves "stewp" (soup/stew are synonmyms so far as she is concerned so she just uses her one word for both). We do a lot of "stewps" in our Crockpot. It has been a total game changer for someone like me who really does need and want to cook my own food, but who works outside the home, is in graduate school, has a dog to walk and a three year old running all around. Also, we live in Alaska where it is dark and cold and nothing really beats a big bowl of 'stewp" at the end of tedious, frigid day.

 
At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

I have dinner lounging in the crockpot as I type. A chicken with cranberry sauce. My crockpot is a lifesaver on crazy days and I can't wait to get my hands on Stephanie's new cookbook. I love her blog and the recipes on it, the cookbook...well, my five year old son loves to cook and it may be his new fave.

 
At 12:11 PM, Blogger liquidlight said...

My slow cooker became my hero when I was trying to balance a brand new celiac diagnosis with student teaching and my last semester of graduate school. It was amazing I could put things in there at 5am before I got in the shower and there would be food there when I got home around seven or eight every night.

 
At 12:29 PM, Anonymous pseudostoops said...

I've never seen the appeal of a crockpot until I started working 12 hour days while my husband is working part time and going to school full time. Now, I get it. I've stolen my mom's old one and am exploring how to use it to best advantage.

My favorite autumn stew, though, is the chana punjabi from Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez that Luisa featured on her site this spring.

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Annie said...

I've only been gluten free for about a month and your site has been a saving grace.

I use my slow cooker in the summer when I get hungry for a roast (weekly staple for my family growing up) and I don't want my oven on all day heating up my house.

During naptime, I brown a chunk of beef with a sliced onion then deglaze the pan with beef broth and dash of balsamic vinegar. Throw it in the Crock pot and by the time my husband gets home from work, dinner's ready.

 
At 12:37 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

I love Stephanie's blog and have followed it over the past year. I agree that the best dishes are stew-types. Some of my favorite and easiest dishes are chili verde (just a cut of pork with some green salsa over it!) and beef stroganoff (which used to be made stove-top by my mother and I converted it to the crock). I also cook GF for my son so that's why her site is great too.

I recommend some other recipes of hers - smoking a piece of meat (including seafood!) using parchment paper; baked apples; apple butter; applesause; roasted garlic.

 
At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Diana said...

That pumpkin soup looks heavenly. :)

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger CatherineMarie said...

I haven't looked at her yogurt recipe, but make sure you are using a good starter yogurt. The Greek yogurt worked well for me because it has less 'other stuff' in it. I use Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for yogurt.

And you can send me a fondue pot, I'm 'fond' of fondue.

No kids, no crockpot....although I've been looking at getting one to be able to eat before/after rehearsals without too much fuss. We never had a crockpot when I was growing up, I think the first time I saw one used, I was 16 and at my aunt's house in CT once I'd gone to boarding school..... (I grew up in Kuwait and Egypt, not really terribly cold in the winters)

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger ~M said...

I adore my crockpot. My best friend got me hooked on it in college. We used to host peanut butter and chocolate fondue study breaks using our crockpots. :) I've read the crockpot365 blog and would like to win the book too!

 
At 12:50 PM, Blogger Quoda said...

I use my slow cooker fairly often, but not normally for meals so much as parts of them. I use it for chicken stock and for making beans. It's just so much easier for me than having to babysit the stock pot on my finicky stove. My stove has a tendency to make things a bit hotter than I wanted them to be. It's one of the hazards of using an electric stove.

I am currently using my slow cooker to mull some apple cider. It's wonderful, as I'm home with the flu and I need hot drinks pretty much constantly.

My slow cooker is a helpful kitchen tool and I love Stephanie's blog. I'd love to branch out and try more slow cooker recipes. I've been learning lots in my kitchen adventures, so something new is always appreciated.

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I just learned to use my crock pot last year. And with 2 small boys in the house it is often a life saver! I chop all the veggies the night before and then in the morning I sear the meat and throw everything in! The smell in my house all day is fabulous and I feel like I worked too hard!

My son 19 month old was diagnosed with celiac disease in June and I have enjoyed your blog since finding it this summer...

 
At 1:00 PM, Blogger Darwinsgirl said...

I have been reading Stephanie's site for about half a year and pre-ordered her cookbook when it was first available.

When it arrived--I too dusted of my slow cooker and got to work.

I love the recipes ease and simplicity. Wonderful stuff!

Thanks for reviewing it here! It is nice to see the GF community sharing.

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I absolutely love split pea soup in my little bitty slow cooker! However, my husband's slow cooked pork shoulder, which he shreds and drenches in his homemade bbq sauce, is a close second. I would love some more recipes!

 
At 1:05 PM, Blogger Just the Right Size said...

I made that Jamaican Pumpkin Soup too! Only I used a HUGE squash of some sort...it was very "pumpkin-ish" and I also thought the soup was a little flat. So I added some curry paste and finishe it with cream. Very yummy.

The Crockpot Chicken Chow Mein is a keepah! I made that last Friday.

I think the crockpot is the "Rodney Dangerfield" of cooking...it really doesn't get much respect, but I use the heck out of mine! I make everything from Caramel Apple Butter, to mashed potatoes, to Roasted Whole Chicken; I'm always telling my girlfriends to use their crockpots more. I work full time in an office, and there's nothing like coming home to a house that smells like someone's been cooking just for you all day.

 
At 1:10 PM, Blogger Noelle said...

My mom used her crockpot pretty often. My fondest memories though are when we literally had 5-10 crockpots (borrowed from friends and neighbors) lining the kitchen counter for our annual Christmas Caroling Party.

Chilis, stews, bisques, chowders and soups; crackers, bread bowls, cheese, muffins, and sour cream. The slow cookers allowed everything to stay warm while we sang our hearts out, inviting us straight into the kitchen to thaw us out.

 
At 1:22 PM, Blogger Aimee Mayer said...

Oh, how I'm craving some beef stew now... but I never know how to make it just right. I don't have a ton of success in the kitchen, nor the patience or creativity to make gourmet dinners, so a throw it in the pot and forget about it would be a great help. I'm certainly considering buying this whether or not I win it. Or, I'll put it on my Christmas/birthday list. Or even my baby registry list ;)

 
At 1:27 PM, Anonymous AngAK said...

I've been making crock pot batches of applesauce---so very good and wholesome and the house smells wonderful. I use my apple peeler/corer/slicer gadget and fill the crockpot to the brim. Add a bit of brown sugar and/or apple cider and let it cook away. Sometimes I add some cinnamon, sometimes I leave it natural. so good in yogurt and baked goods and just off the spoon.

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Amanda Bohl said...

As a family of 4 voracious eaters (2 of whom are under 4.5), the crock pot is becoming our savior. In fact, we need a bigger one and more recipes. Our kids love stews and soups (especially paired with quesadillas and grilled cheese sandwiches). The hours between afternoon naps and dinner are generally chaotic. The crock pot allows me to spend our mellower morning moments prepping dinner and our not so mellow afternoon moments playing with kids. We would love a copy of this book!

 
At 1:39 PM, Blogger Swiss said...

Thanks, just what I was hoping you would post. I saw you mention waking up to the smell of pumpkin soup in the morning. I love smelling ox tails in the morning - a weird thing maybe but a favorite for the crock pot.

I make all my broths and beans in mine. I use it a lot, I wear them out - kinda like you after running after the Bean!

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Sew Bee It said...

What a sweet giveaway! I'm so excited about this book! I've been trying to go gluten and sugar free and spent a bit of time on her blog. That being said, however, I'm old school... I like to have an actual book to actually flip through! I'd really love to start making more soups. I've gotten into making homemade broth and doing chicken soups from scratch. It makes me feel like a "real" mommy.

 
At 1:45 PM, Blogger corycoakley said...

oh, bless him for making that recipe dairy free!! As soon as the cranberry pork stew comes out of the pot, that's going in. I have everything already in the kitchen. YUM!

That crock pot will save your life when little bean is older, too--on the days I take kids to karate, trumpet, soccer, and 4h, I have about 35 minutes to get them home, changed, and turned around back out the door. WIthout the crock pot we'd starve!

 
At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Aki said...

The unusual "stew" from my Japanese childhood in the verrry chilly midwestern winters is Braised pork+miso+cabbage+ginger. Dark meat turkey or roasted veggies would work instead of the pork too.

Mom would make it for us after we shoveled the 500 tons of snow on the sidewalk, driveways and part of our elderly neighbor's walkway.

 
At 2:01 PM, Blogger Kate said...

I do want this book. I'm using the slow cooker more these days because I've begun managing a food bank, and I'm working later 3 days a week.

Not having to rejigger recipes so that they are gluten-free is an added bonus!

 
At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Kristin said...

When my daughter was an infant/toddler, she liked nothing better than to sit up on the counter and bake with me. Now that she's four, she stands on a stepstool at the counter while my 18-month-old son is now plopped on the countertop, who loves it just as much as his sister did. It's certainly much harder to cook with two little ones tugging at my legs and demanding my attention, but it's so worth it. Both my kids are great eaters, and my daughter has baked so often with me now that she can tell you the basic ingredients of cookies or cake.

 
At 2:23 PM, OpenID celiacinthecity said...

Our favorite Crockpot dish is chili or venison stew. I usually can't wait to taste it before it even gets going, but my boyfriend is patient enough to wait for all the flavors to truly develop!

We would LOVE to try out this book!

Thanks Shauna!

 
At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Marisa said...

Over the years, I've managed acquire four slow cookers of varying sizes and shapes. They all have their unique purposes. My six quarter is terrific for slow stock-making and the four quart one makes amazing fruit butters when set on low overnight.

When I was growing up, my mom would use her slow cooker to make stuffed cabbage, simmering the rolls slowly all day in a tangy tomato sauce.

I've just succeeded in making myself ravenously hungry. (And I'm so delighted that you've come to appreciate your slow cooker!)

 
At 2:27 PM, Anonymous easy recipes said...

It look grate. Can I use something else instead of the celery?

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Shelly! said...

We always had something crock pot style on Sundays growing up. It was always a busy day for my parents and it was easy to through things in and go. Some of my favorite family meals come from the crock pot.

Now that we are gluten-free I haven't used my crock pot that much...which is a shame.

But what I did love about your post - besides the fantastic Stephanie O'Dea mention - is that your crock pot looks used! It always bugs me to see a picture of cooking equipment that looks so new and shiny - like it really doesn't get that much use.

PS - I call every slow cooker a crock pot....

 
At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Kristina said...

I keep hearing about this blog and cookbook- it's on my wish list! It sounds great.

My little guy isn't quite a toddler yet (5 months), but he loves to hang out on the kitchen counter seated in his Bumbo while I'm cooking, and I tell him about the different ingredients and what I'm doing. My favorite memory so far is when I was making oatmeal raisin bars when all of a sudden he sneezed and yep, I ended up with baby booger bars!

They were still delicious. :)

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger Caitlyn said...

We have a two year old who loves to drag a chair into the kitchen when she sees me working away at the counter. While it's not always the quickest way to get dinner on the table, I love letting her help. She'll 'cut' the vegetables (with a cheese spreader) while I stand over the stove, or press the tofu while I get the pan ready. This cookbook looks like another batch of fun projects for us to try together. Thanks!

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Ricki said...

Lovely stories, as always. And I'm afraid I DO remember that SNL bit. As well as the others you mention. . . those were the days, all right!

Okay, autumn stew: I have an African-inspired Spicy Chickpea, Sweet Potato and Collard Stew in Peanut Sauce. Fabulous, warming, filing, comfort food.

 
At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Rachel said...

I use my crockpot to make batches of apple butter to can in the fall. It is also my go to for roast and meatloaf. (they tend to be company meals since most people around here are the meat and potatoes type)
For the best baked oatmeal check out http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2004/03/oatmeal_breakfast_clafoutis.php
I have made this 5 times in the last month. Every time the pan is empty I start a new batch. Old fashion or quick oats, cranberries, cherries, raisins, almonds, walnuts, pecans doesn't matter I love it. Quick oats have a more muffin-y texture then old fashion.

 
At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Sho said...

Shauna and Chef,

My mother never had a crockpot, so I don't even remember when it got popular. I love my crockpot, although I am a boring crockpot cook. I throw chicken legs and thighs in with maple syrup. I let it cook all day, so the fat comes out, and the sweetness of the maple seeps in.

What else? I think I am the only person who loves deckel (the fattiest part of the brisket that you can buy at Jewish butchers.) Deckel makes a delish pot roast. I love it in the crockpot with potatoes and carrots. Split pea soup is great in the crockpot, with some good Herb-Ox bouillon. Lentil soup and chicken soup are great. Even broccoli soup with potato starch is good.

My funny crockpot story is the day I was so tired I threw in everything but the kitchen sink. Chicken, onions, potatoes, carrots, Herb-Ox, onion powder, garlic powder, dill and basil, all covered with water. My son was around three then, and we went out on our all-day trips. He did not go to nursery school. We just ran around to story times, play centers, play dates, book stores, nature centers, museums and plays, etc.

We got back home at the end of the exhausting day. I was wondering why the house did not smell of chicken.

I forgot to plug in the crockpot. Who knew I could be too tired for the crockpot.

Take care,

Shoshannah

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Sarcastic Celiac said...

I'm not a good cook, but living GF has forced me to learn! I dug out the old crock pot once to experiment with making some soup, and it hasn't had much rest since!

I basically cleaned out what I had in my fridge and cupboards one night, threw it in, and had some pretty awesome stew-like substance a few hours later. I even took a picture and blogged about it. (It takes a lot for me to do that)

Thanks for the reminder about slow cooking, especially for those of us with little time to cook!

 
At 3:44 PM, Blogger chez shoes said...

How timely! Last week while visiting my mom in Seattle, she pulled out a new-in-box Crockpot from the depths of a closet, telling me she received it as a gift and had no idea what to do with it.

Well, I sure did. Though I'd never used one before in my life, the first thought I had was "Pot roast!" Off to Thriftway we went in search of red wine, beef stock, shallots, garlic, mushrooms and fresh herbs. Into the pot all of that went, then we headed out to Alki to enjoy the fall weather for the day.

When we returned, like magic, there was pot roast, falling-apart-tender and delicious.

What do you think the first thing I did after dinner was? Yep, you guessed it - bought a Crockpot of my own.

And now, I need that book :)

 
At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Erin V said...

oh man i just recieved a slow cooker as gift and no idea what to do with it beyond beef stew. A girl can only eat so much beef stew in a winter so help a girl out!

 
At 3:55 PM, Blogger Aryn said...

I just moved into my first house and have been lusting for a slow cooker. I never even thought to try a thrift store! I shall be visiting the nearest thrift store this weekend to invest in one. A good cookbook would help - I borrowed several from the library, but I didn't like them. I love Stephanie's blog, though.

 
At 4:07 PM, Blogger Merav said...

One of my roommates bought a slow cooker on a whim at the beginning of this year (we're juniors in college) and now every Saturday we have "Saturday Night Stew," where we plop everything in the slow cooker in the morning and have a hearty warm stew to eat on Saturday night--probably the best and "realest" meal we eat all week and the one opportunity for all of us to sit down together for dinner. Every week a different roommate buys the ingredients. This is a fairly new tradition, so we're still searching everywhere for recipes to spice up the meal; this book would be so so amazing for us (especially because I'm celiac)! Thanks for the great post and the giveaway. I hope I win (and my roommates do too)!

 
At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Lara said...

I'm pregnant with my 4th baby while my oldest "baby" just turned 5. Yup, 4 kids under 5 years old. I use my crockpot at least once a week and WOULD LOVE to have stephanie's book. She was actually the first gluten-free cooking blog I came across and I too love her humour and spirit. I would be SO grateful for a gluten-free cookbook of any kind for a complete cooking rookie. I know nothing in the kitchen but my potroast always tastes great coming out of that crock at the end of a day. Now you've got me curious to check her blog out again. ;)

 
At 5:03 PM, Blogger Allison the Meep said...

Such a timely post for me - I was planning on making a lentil soup in the crockpot tomorrow night because it's super cheap and healthy. And I feel like once the chill settles in, all I want to do is eat soup. My crockpot comes out of its spring and summer hibernation and is in full use during the colder months.

 
At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What cute pictures of the darling Lucy. And of the food. yum.

I was one of those who bought my crockpot for $2 at Goodwill, many many years ago! I use it summer and winter, it never gets covered with dust!

Whenever I have a busy day, I cook in the crockpot, all sorts of things.

When my twin daughters were babies I cooked a couple days a week in the crockpot with them hanging on my pant legs. Later on they could help prepare the various vegies and would help layer it all in. Gosh, those were hectic days!

My babies just turned 30, FYI! They did completely exhaust me, right up until they went to college! Constant running....gymnastics, dance, hockey, school functions, oh my! Get ready Shauna and Danny!

 
At 5:58 PM, Blogger wellunderstood said...

my ellen bean is going to be 15 months old next week, so i completely understand your exhaustion! we got her a little wooden kitchen and now she "cooks" with me while i make dinner each night, which is lots of fun! she likes stirring with her little wooden spoon, and implores me often to "taste" what she's got cooking. i tell you, it just keeps getting more and more fun!

 
At 6:40 PM, Blogger Liz said...

I'm new to the gluten-free life, and loving the healthy feelings that come with it! I found both your blog and Stephanie's around the same time and so greatly appreciate the range of homemade goodies. My husband and I love to cook, but there are days when the crockpot is the only way we're going to have a good meal after a long day in the office! My favorite recipe so far from Stephanie's site is her Fall Stew, except I violated your husbands rule and changed it the very first time I made it!! The original recipe calls for ground turkey and half new/half sweet potatoes, but I used bone-in lamb shoulder and all sweet potatoes. Fantastic!! Thanks so much for sharing your heart and your kitchen through your writing!

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought a small slow cooker at a sale a few years ago, and never figured out what to do with it. This cookbook would be great!

My favorite cooking with toddlers story is baking with my little sister when she was younger (we are 8 years apart). Mostly, she would eat butter and cookie dough, but I loved having her there with me and we both enjoyed eating what we made afterwards! We live in different continents, so we can't bake together anymore, but we still talk about it.
-Michelle

 
At 7:28 PM, Anonymous Rebecca E. said...

I often forget about the crockpot... It sits on a shelf and gathers dust most of the time. But, I do seem to use it more during the cooler weather when I use it to make soups! Yay to come home after a long day at work to a meal ready to eat! - Rebecca E.

 
At 7:50 PM, Blogger Roberta Taylor said...

3 1/2 years ago, we bought a half finished house that had sat, abandoned and unloved, for nearly 5 years. My husband was working full time and I was working 1/2 time, and in between that we had to gut and renovate our house and keep 2 teenagers fed and loved. My crockpot has never been so loved.

Without a kitchen (not even a kitchen floor for a while), the crockpot was a lifesaver, and would get plugged in wherever there was an unused outlet. Sadly, one day, while the aroma of chili competed with the scent of freshly-cut pine boards, one of us kicked the poor crockpot and sheared the knob right off. We got a new one the next time we drove to town, but it just wasn't the same as my old faithful, given as a wedding gift and used for years.

I still miss the old-style, plain-jane crockpot with it's straight sides and glass lid, though the new one is prettier:)

 
At 8:05 PM, Blogger Kelly Sweazea said...

I love good 'ole Pot Roast in the winter in my slow cooker, but my new favorite has been lentil stew. I saw Stephanie on GMA and she was lovely! I can't wait to try more of her recipes!

 
At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Natalie said...

Hi Shauna,
I have never cooked with a crockpot, and recently received one as a gift. While I love the process of cooking, I'm excited to have a way to throw everything together in the morning and have dinner waiting for me when I get home on lazy days and long work days, particularly now it's getting colder and darker outside.


I just won't use it for yogurt. But I have had great luck with this low-tech method: on the stove top, heat ~1 quart milk to just below simmering point, it will start to foam slightly (should be ~120F) to kill bacteria. Allow to cool slightly, it should still be very warm to touch(~115F). Whisk in ~3oz plain yogurt with live cultures. (Here I transfer it to sterilized glass jars, leaving lids on loosely. Don't seal them until they are cool.)
Place in a warm place overnight. My gas oven's pilot light keeps it warm which makes it perfect, or an oven heated to ~100F. Place in the fridge for another 8 hours to chill and finish solidifying.
2% milk works fabulously, 1% is okay, skim not so much. If it's too thin for your tastes, or for extra protein, try adding up to 1/2 cup of skim milk powder when you add the yogurt.

I hope this works for you - I've been a long time follower (lurker) of your blog, and it thrills me to be able to give something back (even if you never try it!).

 
At 8:15 PM, Blogger Banannas said...

A slow cooker brings a smile to my face, along with thoughts of my mom.

...Of tender hunks of beef in a sweet-salty sauce just begging for a bowl of rice and a spoon.

...And the smell of golden-nutty squash with little, chewy rice balls.

...Of homemade chicken soup with the slightly medicinal scents from dried jujubes and from ginseng and ginger.

Nothing is like motherly love. And I think your post has illustrated this in a wonderful way--thank you.

 
At 8:31 PM, Anonymous Allison said...

I've been enjoying her blog too and love doing my meal prep in the morning. And I definitely empathize with how tired a mobile baby can leave you. Regarding the need to cling during meal prep, I got a lot of mileage out of the sling and backpack (and any other carrier I happened to have on hand) during what we called "happy hour", which was when I was in dinner production, but our boy was too tired and done in to deal with the floor anymore. Once he was up all was well.

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger Earth Mama said...

Ah hah, I spot a Bob's Red Mill bag in the picture. I seriously don't think I'd be a happy gluten free-er if it weren't for that good old Bob. I just posted my great pie crust recipe. Check it out:

http://earthmama101.blogspot.com/2009/10/rained-out.html

I'm so happy to have found a blog with soem awesome gluten free recipes. Thanks so much and I look forward to trying them all!

:)Lisa

 
At 8:36 PM, Blogger Earth Mama said...

btw- I love you're little leave a comment piece. Hysterical!

 
At 8:37 PM, Blogger Pam said...

I found out about Stephanie's blog through a search for corn on the cob in the crockpot. Since then I have tried a few recipes & am always impressed with the way it turns out. Hardly any effort & a meal that will last me for most of the week. I work with eight to twelve 2 year olds all day, so by the end of the day, I'm pooped. And I know that I need to eat supper. So that alone is a good reason why I use my crockpot often. If I didn't use my crockpot, most days I would either be eating cereal, toast or other random food from my empty-ish cupboards for supper. The crockpot is my lifesaver! I love that I can throw everything into a pot, turn it on in the morning & have a great smelling meal even by lunch time, ready for supper. My mom had a crockpot that she used a lot, mostly for stew or hamburger soup (along with a lot of "chunkies"), and especially in the winter. Now that I'm cooking for myself, I tend to puree the onions & tomatoes so I avoid the "chunkies".

My favorite recipe so far is Moroccan stew (vegetarian & GF) taht I got from my cousin's cookbook. It wasn't a slowcooker recipe, but it works really good in it. I'm usually up for trying anything in the crockpot at least once & will usually try to "adapt" things to work in the crockpot (although, there are some recipes that don't turn out so well!).

I just wanted to add that although this is the first time I've ever commented on your blog, I've been "following" you for a year and a half & have been tempted by many of your recipes & stories :). Thanks for writing such a fun, informative blog!

 
At 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah the crock pot. The chef is right...crock pots destroy salmon. I speak from experience. So unless you want your salmon to take on the flavor of canned tuna with a mushier texture, well, you get the idea.
I love to cook beans in the crock pot. I make gluten free minestrone (sans the pasta) and ribollita (sans the sourdough with extra kale). To ensure the quality of the vegetables in these soups I only cook the cannellini beans in the crock pot. The rest of the soup when I get home and on the stove top. The beans are important in both these soups and the quality and texture of crock pot beans beats the can every time.

 
At 10:18 PM, Blogger Vincci said...

One of my roommates in university owned a slow cooker and I took advantage of it a couple times after I was sent another cookbook with some slow cooker recipes (Canadian Living's Make it Tonight). It was pretty great on the days when I was motivated enough to get up early and throw stuff in the pot! I was so sad when my roommate left and took the slow cooker with her... I will definitely get one when I'm living on my own again!

 
At 11:27 PM, Blogger Rina the Mama Bear said...

I still love fondues...LOL. I own um...3 of those pots? Heh. It's a Christmas tradition with the in laws to have a Christmas Eve fondue. We look forward to it every year!

Lu is just gorgeous in the kitchen. I can't wait till mine is in there with me.

 
At 5:44 AM, Blogger Kari said...

I have a toddler and we're always joking about how we should have a cooking show "Cooking with Nora". It would entail watching me try to make something with her clinging to my leg or standing on the table or screaming "Mom I turned the light on" (and off and on and off and on). Nevermind dodging the two cats underfoot. I found Stephanie's blog and it inspired me to get out the crockpot. Now I can cook in peace after the toddler is in bed and we're all a lot happier and safer in the kitchen.

 
At 7:47 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

As a homeschooling mom of four boys under 8, I LOVE my crockpots. I got all of mine at thrift stores. Two get weekly use and the other comes out when it is time to cook down sauces and fruit butters for canning. My youngest is 18 months and in to everything. He keeps busy when I am cooking by using a spare pot and spoon to "cook" his own little meal beside my feet. Usually the toy dinosaurs end up in the "stew".

I use my crock pot to cook beans, lots of soups and stews, roast chickens and beef and bake potatoes. I love the way that it needs no attention and doesn't heat up my house during our long Florida summers.

We have been gluten free for a little over a year and casein free for about 4 months. Being able to eat some of the same yummy crock pot food as before has helped my boys adjust to living GFCF.

Thanks Shauna for the time and heart you put into your writing. This blog has been a blessing to my family and I enjoy reading about what is going on in your kitchen so very much.

 
At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Sarah Tolson said...

I stumbled upon your blog when I was first searching for gluten free... help.. rescue.. awareness... anything?? Honestly, I sat down over the course of a week, and read just about every post you had written. :) Gave me a lot of hope, so thanks! :)

So, when I was searching for gluten free crockpot recipes, I again happily found A Year of Slow Cooking... yay!! I haven't read all of her recipes yet, but I have tried some of them. Her mac n cheese was delish.. but my fam didn't like it. Their loss. You know what they like?? Chili and Stew... just like you said. So that is what I cook for them in the crockpot. I love coming home to dinner already made. I have fibromyalgia and at end of the day, when I haven't a shred of energy left.. Crockpots have saved me many a time... :)

Thanks for all that you do!!!

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger LJHL said...

I inherited my grandmother's slow cooker, which is brown and hilariously outdated when I've used it at parties to keep a dish warm. I use it occasionally and I always mean to use it more. In fact, I might end up using it today -- I work until 8 p.m. most nights so I often end up eating a frozen Trader Joe's meal at my desk, but maybe tonight we can have beef stew waiting for us!

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger barrett2005 said...

I'm not sure I'd survive without my crockpot! I have bravely endured family holiday parties in my tiny house and tiny kitchen thanks to the use of 3 - 4 crockpots! I make crockpot stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc and I'm able to keep it all hot and fresh in time for serving the turkey. Infact, our tiny house is minus a formal dining room, so we transfer our holiday feast to the basement. Using crockpots makes transporting our meal to the basement a snap! Love Stephanies website. Looking forward to a winner!

 
At 9:41 AM, Blogger Brenda said...

I used to bring out my slow cooker when the weather turned cool, and enjoy long-simmered meals all winter. But this summer I discovered how perfect it is more making fruit sauces and butters, and had been thinking there mist be other, more "contemporary" recipes. I don't have celiac disease, but some of my friends do, and I love cooking for them some of the things they thought they had to give up. Thanks for bringing this book to my attention; I'm always inspired by reading your blog and I'd love to have a copy of the book.

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger j.cro said...

Hi Shauna,
I just love reading this site - it's so inspiring and I really can't wait until your new book comes out. I want to pre-order it!

I live on the East Coast and the weather has been so whacky. Warm. Cold. Warm. Cool. WET. You get the picture.

I commute 120 miles round trip five days a week and I've recently rediscovered my slow cooker - a lot of nights I'm just too tired to make dinner when I get home.

When it first got cold earlier this month, I threw a whole lot of stuff from my pantry into my Crock Pot before I went to bed one night and when I woke the next morning I had lunch to take to work! And then I had lunch (and sometimes dinner) for the next several days and it was GREAT.

Not only did I not have to think about what I was going to eat all week(I bring my lunch to work almost every day) but I used up a lot of stuff that had been growing fuzz in my cupboard.

I'm already scouring A Year Of Slow Cooking for other recipes and inspiration and I can't wait to make the soup from this post.

Cheers!

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger tallmisto said...

I have a love hate relationship with my slow cooker. Sometimes I adore what comes out of it, other times I feel like it sucked all the life out of my food. I tried many vegetarian recipes in it and thought "why am I doing this to my veggies?"

I do have some green chicken chile recipes that I love. Also the ubiquitous pot roast still tugs at my heart.

All in all I guess it's the time factor that makes a difference. Little Beans very often deserve the use of a slow cooker.

 
At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

I have a tried and true recipe for "crazy cake"--an egg free, chocolate cake that is so easy but simple. It's my go to cake for cooking with kids. They can all take part, and lick the bowl afterwards.

catherineajt@yahoo.com

 
At 10:37 AM, Blogger Alicia said...

I LOVE my crockpot. I was in college when I found out that I had celiac. I was literally eating only cheerios, and having to suddenly start cooking...oh goodness. That crockpot was a lifesaver!! I still use it quite a bit to make chicken stock, or dinner when I know I'll be home late.

 
At 10:57 AM, Anonymous molly said...

Oh my. My every nerve remembers the exhaustion of my son's toddler years. I wondered sometimes whether I'd make it through the hour, let alone the week. Loved it, every last minute, but the fatigue... It was patently, obviously impossible that anyone might have more than one kiddo -- until energy went on sale, wholesale, at Costco, anyway.

I now have three, my youngest a few months older than your Bean, and every night, she's standing on a chair by my side.

All I can say is it gets harder and better in completely unequal proportions -- the better always and forever outweighing the tired.

Happy cooking with your new sous-chef.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger Dianna said...

I'm 9 months pregnant, and the only slow cooker cookbook I have dates from the 80's. While I'm certain that I'll be cooking again some time, the next few months would be a lovely time to get reacquainted with my slow cooker.

 
At 12:11 PM, Anonymous StuffCooksWant said...

I love my crockpot, but only use it in the winter. I've made a variety of meals in it, but I think the best are chili and stews and soups. Green chile pork stew, made with Hatch green chiles, is delicious in that big crockpot. Cooks all day and gets so tender.

I will definitely check out this book because I'd love some new recipes to try out.

 
At 12:59 PM, Blogger Carly said...

I juuust but this cookbook on my christmas wishlist. I love that Stephanie is gluten free and that she tells you when recipes are "flops!" I live with my boyfriend who just recently started working nights and the crock pot has given us some extra minutes to spend with each other (we only see each other for about an hour a day). I just throw things in pot and have it ready by the time I get home. Last night I did a pork roast, apricot preserves, dijon mustard, and some chicken stock....so good. Here is hoping that Christmas comes early in my house :)

 
At 1:16 PM, Blogger Rona said...

I love your post! Your pictures are wonderful! I love those of Little Bean. Thank you for continuing to make your website better and better. I have enjoyed reading it for about 5 years now (has it been that long?).

You are an inspiration!

 
At 1:59 PM, Blogger michelle said...

I have a 2 month old and am going back to work next week so this would be an excellent time to dust off the crock pot!

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger Helen said...

Let's see now: I've never used a slow cooker before and know nothing about this way of cooking. I have no children, so no stories of cooking with toddlers to share. And it is spring, not autumn, in my part of the world! Heehee!
Your recipe did remind me of my all-time favourite soup though - classic South African butternut soup. I make mine by sweating chopped onion in butter and oil, adding a butternut and an apple (both peeled and chopped of course) and a tablespoon or two of curry powder (and a little flour). Then the zest and juice of an orange. About two thirds chicken stock and a third milk. Once the butternut is cooked soft, I whizz in the blender until silky smooth. These simple ingredients make a very flavourful soup, with the most wonderful colour. Yum!

 
At 3:09 PM, Blogger Josie said...

I absolutely love that baked oatmeal recipe - but baked in the oven, not the slow-cooker. In the last weeks of my pregnancy, I was making a batch every week. Now that I'm nursing, I'm making double batches.

I had to put away my crock-pot while pregnant - I couldn't stand the smell of one thing cooking all day long - but this post has reminded me that it's time to bring it out once again!

 
At 3:28 PM, Blogger alice said...

We *still* have our crockpot, purchased in a fit of optimism, sitting on a shelf in the pantry.

My favorite fall dish is roasted sweet potatoes - not really a stew, but it's so good. It's out of this world if I can get my hands on Japanese sweet potatoes, but I have yet to find a local supplier. Maybe it's time to get to gardening next spring ...

 
At 5:55 PM, Blogger babyjenks said...

that soup sounds similar to the curry butternut squash soup that is a fall standard in our house. we made it up at a friends house one day, no recipe, just ingredients and it's so yummy we just keep making it!

for slow cooker stuff, i usually make chili or use it to cook beans and chickpeas while i'm at work. i could definitely use some good recipes to expand my use of it.

thanks again for another good post!

 
At 6:20 PM, Anonymous alisa said...

as i type this i have a crockpot full of coconut milk simmering away in the kitchen in an attempt to make coconut yogurt... no really, i do.

we'll see what happens. if all else fails i'll wash it out and toss in onions, celery, carrots, broth and a few large strips of lemon zest and let those simmer for a while. then, add red lentils and cook for approx 20 minutes. puree it up and serve drizzled with olive oil. so good.

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger Tea Fiend said...

I'm a college student, and one of the nicest things during fall and winter is to come home after a long chilly walk (during which I'll feel like I want to just curl up on the sidewalk and sleep), and be able to eat something warm. It saves me lots of money, too! I can cook sweet green bean soup and sweet red bean soup-- comfort food for an Asian girl like me :) and rice porridge when I'm feeling a bit under the weather.

Now that I can cook more efficiently, I don't use it as often as I did last year, but it's nice to know that when the really cold weather rolls around, I can come home to something warm and steamy by using my slow cooker :)

 
At 1:23 AM, Blogger katklaw777 said...

My Mom always made Chili in the crockpot. We used to call it "Kitchen Sink Chili" because it had everything but the kitchen sink in it! I think it was her way of cleaning out the frig, freezer & pantry. It was always just a bit different than the last batch(to keep us on our toes), always tasted great and always came with our choice to put on toppings.(kids like control) We ate it with gusto!

 
At 3:02 AM, Anonymous linvg said...

Just wanted to comment on 'little bean' - gorgeous, My little 1-year old stands on her older brother's little toddler chair and taste all the ingredients I use when cooking. After 2 year of cooking with a toddler sitting on the counter top I am so use to my little helpers I have adjusted my practices etc to be safe. Yes I too am exhausted, no I wouldn't want to change one thing. Both kiddies are good eater and as you commented in a previous blog I think it is because they 'help' with the shopping, preparations and we sit down and eat toghether.
Enjoy!

 
At 5:32 AM, Anonymous Adrienne said...

I have a very small slow cooker (I don't think Crock Pot brand; there must be others) that was my husband's great aunts. So, it is old and small. (Only two prongs on the plug!) Yet, I pull it out at least twice a month, perhaps more when I'm busy. I work at home, but am still often very busy so the crock pot is the perfect solution. We made mole chile a week or so ago -- fab. A new cookbook with 365 days of ideas would be wonderful!

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger Karen said...

I love my crockpot. it saves me from hot pockets, toast, or fish sticks at the end of 19 hour days of nursing school. I love to make soup that sticks to the bones but doesn't leave your stomach feeling heavy - i still need to sleep after eating at 11pm! I also love leftovers in an old thermos food jar that keeps them warm through morning clinicals and lets me have a good lunch of real food that i can eat in the middle of my crazy day.

 
At 11:05 AM, Blogger Mistyfahying said...

Hi Shauna

I've had similar issues over the years trying to make yogurt. I think the key to a good set is adding extra milk protein in the form of dried milk powder & holding the milk at 80oC for at least a couple of minutes (without boiling!)... Check your crockpot temp with a thermometer, if it runs too hot (ie >40oC) you may be killing your culture. I use pint sized mason jars in water so I don't have to transfer the yogurt after it's set. I just cover the crockpot with foil and wait 4 hours. good luck!
Misty

http://www.fahying.com/blog/2009/05/success_at_last_yogurt_after_2.html

 
At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Rosemary said...

That pumpkin soup sounds wonderful! We've used our slow-cooker several times, but each time it comes out with the same off-taste... It doesn't matter if we're doing chili or Irish stew or beet soup, it all has a funky flavor. I'd love to use it more; any insight into what may be wrong?

 
At 7:02 PM, Blogger Sistercooks.blogspot.com said...

Every Sabbath, we make chulent, which is a bean and meat stew. It traditionally uses barley, but we use brown rice because of me. I also make my own Kishke from scratch. I find it only takes 10 minutes, which my toddler, who is now 18 months, likes to "cook" beside me with her measuring spoons ( because she has claimed them as hers) and whatever container she can find. I love these times with her, and hope she will learn to cook when she is younger, unlike me who didnt learn to cook til I got married at 19.

 
At 12:55 AM, Blogger a kelly said...

My favorite recipe when first married was roast beef in the crockpot. My husband loved it but my mother made fun of it. She didn't like anything in the crockpot and I have to admit her cooking was amazing. But the ease and simplicity of the crockpot has always appealed to me. Nowadays I make more soups than roasts...can't stand too much meat...and this is the crockpots finest hour...love a bean soup on a cold day!

 
At 9:06 AM, Blogger Erin said...

I've been meaning to use my slow cooker for about a year now, but I'm not confident enough to just throw stuff in yet, and most of the books out there seem to lean heavily on things like canned cream of mushroom soup. I'm jazzed about a book whose recipes (mostly) pass muster with you two!

 
At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The crockpot was a lifesaver when I was in grad school. It was great to come home to hot food after hours in the lab. My fave was curried lentils with spinach and carrots.

Also, with kids the busyness doesn't lessen, it just changes. I have a 3 and 6 year old and my life is just as crazy as it was when they were 1 and 4!

When I was diagnosed with DH, I reevaluated my relationship with food, and decided that even though I love to cook, and have proof from others that I"m pretty good at it, I was spending waaay too much time in the kitchen (and my waistline proved it!). That's where the crockpot is great, you can throw things in it and don't have to bother for another 8 hours.

I'm tempted to buy one of the new models with the timer; Stephanie gives tips in her book on how to cook things if you'll be gone for more than 8 hours.

(If you draw my name, I already have the book, so someone else can have it, thanks!)

 
At 3:59 PM, Blogger emily said...

It sounds like your perspective on slow cookers is similar to mine. They're fantastic for certain things, but not for everything. I don't know how Stephanie did it for a year!

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger Betty said...

My brother and I still reminisce about coming home from church on Sundays when we were growing up and "wafting into the house" on the wonderful smell of Mom's pot roast. The scent would fill the house while we were away and invite us back again for an afternoon of watching football with the family. These days I love making those kinds of traditional meat and potatos dishes, but don't have time to make them like my Mom did. I use my Crock Pot instead. It makes an amazing pot roast with carrots, onions, a little red wine vinegar...mmmmmm! I started using it recently too to make a port roast with just some apple cider vinegar, a little brown sugar and a bit of crushed red pepper. It literally falls apart when you try to take it out, perfect for pulled pork and is great with a bit of cole slaw. There's something wonderful about coming home from a long day at work to the smell of a meal that cooked for hours, but didn't take hours to cook!

 
At 7:28 PM, OpenID jenskitchen said...

My toddler/sous chef loves to cook with me. He stands beside me at the counter and helps stir or pour or measure. He'll taste (even things he won't eat once they are completely put together and cooked) and usually tells me that it needs more salt (most of the time it doesn't.)

 
At 2:14 PM, Anonymous stacy@wakeupraw.com said...

I'm from Sitka, AK and came across your blog... I too struggle with food issuse & have been writing about eating raw and how it is helping my life. (And you can only imagine the challenges here in Sitka!!)

Thank you for your sincerity & encouraging voice in your posts. Perhaps I'll see you in Sitka one of these days!

S

 
At 2:47 PM, Blogger MsJess said...

That pumpkin soup sounds delicious! My only concern is that it's just me and my husband right now and when we cook with our slow cooker we end up with way too many leftovers. My mother loved to cook with her slow cooker, she roasted a chicken almost once every week and made soup with the bones so our kitchen often smelled of chicken broth. Heavenly! Mom and I also figured out you can make carmelized onions in the slow cooker which is a great if you don't have the time to saute them over low heat.

 
At 4:28 PM, Blogger aurore said...

I did not know that the year of slow cooking blog was gluten free. I will head over there right after I post. I discovered my slow cooker a few years ago and fell in love but now I don't take it off the shelf much. I should. I would like to but I need a little new inspiration. As another poster said my two children are not thrilled with the stew-like texture of many slow cooker meals. They like to know exactly what they are eating. I on the other hand LOVE it but now that I am gluten free I am not sure how to thicken my slow cooker sauce without a roux. maybe the cookbook will have an idea...

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Sara said...

Has anyone found a lead-free slow cooker? I've read that many slow cookers contain lead (or plastic) that leaches into the food as it cooks. Anyone found one that is guaranteed to be lead free? Thanks!

 
At 5:45 PM, Blogger Stephanie O'Dea said...

Hi Sara,

I wanted to address your concern about lead.
I have heard of internet discussions regarding lead in slow cookers. I use Crock-Pot brand slow cookers, and last year when I first heard about the possibility of lead, I contacted their PR person, and got the following reply:

I hope this helps ease your mind a bit!
xxo steph
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jarden Consumer Solutions (JCS) continues to proactively test its products for lead and other toxic metals, with the results continuing to come back favorably. Lead is not an additive in the Crock Pot® slow cooker ceramic glaze. JCS is diligent in its efforts to ensure that its products are compliant with applicable regulations regarding the presence of lead.

JCS tests for lead and other toxic metals on its products to ensure they are safe for consumers. In addition, we periodically use accredited third party lab testing to reveal that our slow cooker stoneware is far below the U.S. FDA and California Regulation Prop 65 requirements for extractable lead and cadmium in ceramic wares, thus supporting our results.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger Amy said...

We love to bake at our house and my toddler loves it. He particulary likes making biscuits (he's OK with gluten) and gingerbread cookies. Or anything in which sugar is used, as he will use that as an excuse to spoon it directly from the bowl adn into his mouth!

 
At 1:34 PM, OpenID thevoice2005 said...

i just stumbled across this post while searching for gluten free pumpkin recipes for my loved ones who have recently switched over. I must say, I am no longer going to get any work done at all, between food blogs and crafting websites! (but it's all for a good cause, right?)

I love crockpots. LOVE them! I also love to cook, but there isn't always time to enjoy the bubble and burble, and babysit the pans on the stove.

I just wanted to point out that I used to think crockpots were impractical for people like me, who are out of the house for 10-12 hours per day or longer. NOT SO!

Just buy an appliance timer from any hardware store, set the time, set it to start 8 hours before you expect to be home, plug it in, turn your crockpot (all slow cookers are one word "crockpots" to me, sorry!) on low and plug IT into the timer, and voila!!

Practical for the professional who loves to eat!

 
At 12:30 PM, Blogger Sara said...

I made this last night, it was wonderful. I had some regular cream on hand and no coconut milk, so I used that and it was lovely. also added some curry powder I had on hand - I'm very bad about making a recipe the way it is written, even the first time! :) Anyways, thanks for the recipe, both my husband and I loved it!

 
At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Carrie said...

I recently bought my first crock pot and I really like. I've pretty much only used it for stew, chili, and making stock. Soon I hope to attempt making yogurt...but I may use a different method. I'm a pretty bag fan of the gadget though.

 
At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Bren said...

what a great story, though I am not a fan of the crock pot at all. I'm all about the pressure cooker! :) Great looking soup. Will be bookmarking it for sure to make. Anything pumpkin and with my Jamaican/Cuban roots, even better.

 
At 9:03 AM, Blogger Ask A Life Coach! said...

I love the crockpotting blog, and I love experimenting with my crockpot. I am a soup maven....especially chicken. I love throwing stuff in and having it come out food with not much attention necessary. I'm not so good with chili though. for some reason my chili is always boring.

I do really want this book, though.... (blinks eyelashes at you)

 
At 7:18 PM, Blogger nola said...

Hey, I've followed her recipe for yogurt dozens of times and it always works when I remember the timing.

It's runnier than storebought yogurt, has a different texture. If I need it thicker, I strain it and use the whey in stews or bread. I much prefer the texture and would never put gelatin in it - blech.

I think the trick is that I have a gas oven that stays pretty warm on pilot light, so I wrap up the milk in a big towel and stick it in there overnight. If I didn't, I would rig up Christmas lights in a cooler or a heating pad or something such. Also good starter is critical (I use Whole Foods or Dannon).

So don't give up!

I love my slow cooker and really enjoy Stephanie's site!

 

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