If I had to name one invaluable kitchen appliance it would have to be the Slow Cooker. There is nothing more convenient than being able to assemble ingredients into a pot and then being able to just leave it to cook a tasty meal, all by itself, before the end of the day.
Whether you are new to using a Slow Cooker, or a veteran, the Taste Of Home Slow Cooker, 278 All New Family Faves, will soon become the go-to cookbook for you. It is one of those encyclopedia-like cookbooks which gives you everything you need to know in an easy to follow format.
The first thing you notice when you open the book is that each of the covers, front and back, has an extra flap which you can use to mark your place in the book. Little touches like this really come in handy when you want to save your spot to find the recipe you want to work on next.
The beginning of the book starts with an information page on Buying & Maintaining your Slow Cooker. This will help you not only choose the right size pot for your household but discusses shape, settings, inserts and also the all-important How To Clean your Slow Cooker. One excellent tip included is the Slow Cooker Temperature Check instruction. This lets you know how to check the cooking temperature of your cooker. Newer cookers will likely reach hotter temperatures faster than older ones so you will want to check every so often.
The next small section is Preparing Foods For The Slow Cooker and describes how to prepare various foods like beans, dairy, rice, fish, etc. A brief explanation of converting recipes from traditional is also included. I found the Top 10 Tips for Slow Cooking to be especially helpful. The most important one (I think) is the Don’t Peak which is one everyone breaks once in a while. A brief explanation of converting recipes to the slow cooker is included as well.
After these brief instructional pages, you are thrown directly into the recipes. Recipe chapters include:
- Snacks & Beverages
- Breakfast & Brunch
- Soups, Stews & Chili
- Beefy Entrees
- Poultry Meals
- Pork, Ham & More
- Side Dishes
- Slow-Cooked Sweets
- Bonus: Instant Pot
A lot of slow cooker recipes are very short because there is so very little instruction required. When all you’re doing is pouring a whole bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker and turning it on it doesn’t take up a lot of room in the recipe book. Therefore many of the pages have more than one recipe.
Throughout the book, you will occasionally see an icon saying Fast Fix. This indicates a recipe that is either 10 minutes or less of prep time or has five ingredients or less (not including water, salt and pepper, oil, and optional extras). These recipes are the ones that make the most of your time and budget.
Each recipe comes complete with a brief description and the name of the person who contributed the recipe. Prep Time, Cook Time, and “Makes” (either quantity or servings) are listed for each recipe. For those recipes which require more than just “dump in the pot and go” directions, the instructions are very easy to follow and clearly explained.
Throughout the book are sprinkled full-color photos of many of the recipes, some full-page. The fact that they added the name of the recipe to many of the photos, really is very helpful. As a very visual person, I find photographs of the recipes I’m going to make helpful.
While there are a lot of beautiful photographs in this book there is not a photo of each recipe. However, if they had put in the photo of each and every recipe, the book probably wouldn’t have come out until next year, and I doubt I will be able to lift it to put it on the kitchen counter. So no points lost for fewer than half the recipes having pictures.
Excellent Tips And Organization
Each page of recipes has a color strip along the edge of the page. The strip is a different color for each section of recipes. This allows you to look at the edge of the book and see each separate section without having to open it. I find this particularly handy when looking recipes by meal type.
You will occasionally see Test Kitchen Tips throughout the book. These are quick tips which will offer information that can help you adopt a recipe or help with other cooking info.
The Bonus: Instant Pot section offers a variety of quick meals with quick prep times but a much quicker cooking time. Ever since I picked up my Instant Pot, I have to say it is beginning to rival my slow cooker. I use it’s slow cooker function or can use pressure cooking which will speed up cooking time. Pressure cooking takes what would normally be 1-2 hour meal and makes it in only about a half hour.
Anyone who has been reading my reviews knows by now that I have a bit of a fetish about indexes. If you’ve ever tried to find a recipe when you can only remember the main ingredients and the name alludes you, a really good cross-referencing index is your best friend.
If I were to be asked, “Where would I find the best index you have ever seen?” I would definitely be pointing at the index in this book. The General Recipe Index lists each recipe by main ingredient and food category. For those who remember the name of the recipe you want to create, there is also an Alphabetical Recipe Index. Together these indexes are brilliant.
For the included recipe, I think I’ve chosen the easiest recipe in the book. Easy Slow-Cooked Pork Tenderloin has four ingredients and takes five minutes to prep. Enjoy!