Cookbook reviews: Three books give slow cooking a makeover

Published: Tuesday, April 22 2014 3:31 p.m. MDT

Slow cooking is going through a makeover.

Three recently released slow cooker cookbooks offer tips and tricks as well as hundreds of recipes, each seeking to revamp the way people view and approach slow cooking.

THE HUNGRY FAMILY SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK,” by Christina Dymock, Front Table Books, $19.99

Having “hungry family” in the title describes Christina Dymock’s motivation for exploring the world of slow cooking.

“I discovered the joy of slow cooker cooking when I had a gaggle of little kids around the house and no time to do anything except feed them, burp them and scrub stains out of the carpet,” she writes in the introduction.

And providing meal options and tips for those on a family-focused schedule is exactly what this book does.

Dymock, a graduate of the University of Utah who now lives in central Utah, begins her book with several information sections before launching into recipes. These sections include the benefits of slow cooking, suggestions for properly caring for a slow cooker and directions on how to buy a slow cooker that meets the cook’s needs. In her “Generic FYI’s” section, Dymock includes all-around helpful tips such as adding dairy products in the last half hour to an hour and details on which dishes need non-stick spray.

The recipes cover everything from beef and poultry to sides and desserts. Included with each recipe is the serving size, cook time based on temperature setting and a brief paragraph detailing Dymock’s experience with the recipe. These paragraphs add a personal touch and create the feeling that a trusted neighbor has recommended the recipe.

FIX-IT AND FORGET-IT NEW COOKBOOK: 250 New Delicious Slow Cooker Recipes,” by Phyllis Good, Good Books, $19.95

Phyllis Good is a New York Times best-selling author with a “commitment to make it possible for everyone to cook, even if they have too little time or too little confidence,” according to her biography.

Good follows through on her commitment by providing many helpful features in her book. This book also begins with a tips section. She includes a few more obvious suggestions such as to cut vegetables evenly and to keep children away from the hot slow cooker. Other more unique aids include the reminder that slow cookers work best when they are two-thirds full as well as a guide to the temperature ranges covered by the different settings on slow cookers.

Perhaps the most useful element in the book is the distinction between “Quick and Easy” recipes and those that are a little more challenging. These easier recipes involve less preparation time and often use simpler ingredients. Although they are scattered throughout the book, an index at the back also makes these recipes easy to find for those looking for a quick dinner idea.

Most of the recipes include pictures, which proves helpful for those visual cooks out there. Each recipe includes an estimate for preparation time and cooking time as well as direction for the ideal size slow-cooker to use.

The types of recipes cover not only the slow-cooker staples, such as meats and chilis, but also pastas and breads.

SLOW COOKER REVOLUTION, Vol. 2: The Easy-Prep Edition,” by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen, Boston Common Press, $26.95

The folks at America’s Test Kitchen have made it their business to test and retest recipe after recipe to find the best version.

“As we like to say in the test kitchen, ‘We make the mistakes, so you don’t have to,’ ” the editors state in the introduction.

“Fancier slow cooking recipes” would have been an appropriate subtitle for this book when comparing it to other slow cooker recipes. There is even a recipe included for crème brulee.

Much like the previously mentioned cookbooks, this book likewise includes a “getting started” section with helpful instructions. Appropriate conversions for using frozen verses fresh onions and a reminder to add “delicate” vegetables at the end prove to be helpful reminders in a general sense.

The tips continue throughout the book and are listed at the bottom of recipes, including how to remove sausage from its casing and how to keep scallions fresh. As is typical for America’s Test Kitchen, tips for the best product brands are often included based on the results of extensive testing.

Even though the book is billed as “the easy-prep edition,” many of the recipes in this book still include more extensive preparation before the ingredients go into the slow cooker. However, the extra time certainly yields a more gourmet meal than is often expected from a slow cooker.

Email: wbutters@deseretnews.com, Twitter: WhitneyButters

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