Really Eating

My Slow Cooker Phase

Posted in Equipment, Personal by Bethany on May 3, 2011

When I was putting together our wedding registries, I spent a lot of time contemplating which kitchen appliances I wanted and/or which I would use. I knew that if I registered for too many, I’d I ended up with appliances still in the box and appliances that sat on the counter wasting precious space. With the input of a few married friends and a lot of Amazon reviews, I ended up registering for a Cuisinart food processor (love), a Kitchenaid stand mixer (still in the box), Cuisinart coffee maker (great, but don’t use it often), Cuisinart toaster oven (we use it almost every day), a Magic Bullet and a Crock Pot slow cooker. As you can tell by the title, this entry is about my slow cooker and how it transitioned from new-in-the-box to the kitchen counter.

(As a side note, the only appliance I wish I had requested was an immersion blender, but oh well!)

I registered for a slow cooker because a few of my married friends had said that it was a “working woman’s best friend” and a “must have”. I took their advice and registered for (and received) the Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS 6 ½ Quart model. After doing some research online, I determined that I wanted a slow cooker that had a removable ceramic insert (to make cleaning easier and versatility), a glass lid (for visibility), a large capacity (go big or go home), and handles. This model does everything I want and so far, I have no complaints. The only feature I do miss is being able to program the start time instead of having to start it right away.

Anyway, the reason I took my slow cooker out of its box was because my husband really missed a recipe I made somewhat often before I started working full-time. It was a recipe that required being cooked in the oven for hours and hours and hours—something I was no longer able to do since I wasn’t home during the days. I unpacked the slow cooker, cleaned it, and then it sat on my counter for a few days. Ironically, I have yet to make that recipe in question (and it’s still on my “to write about” list for Really Eating).

I don’t remember what it was that pushed me over the edge, but I finally opened up the little recipe book that came with the slow cooker and made America’s Favorite Pot Roast because the ingredients were super simple and I wanted to give pot roast another try (more details on our less-than-ideal pot roast attempts another time). While we didn’t love the actual recipe, I was so enthralled with the slow cooker that I asked for more recipes on Facebook and ended up at Crockpot 365. The premise of the blog was that the owner, Stephanie, committed to using her crock pot every day in 2008… and did! I started from the very beginning and started combing through (and saving) a number of recipes, which led to more and more slow cooker recipes in my weekly meal plans.

I’m excited about posting some of our favorites so far, and will continue to do so as we try new things. One of my informal new years resolutions for 2011 was to try something new each week- either an ingredient or recipe or both. I don’t know if I’ve been successful because I haven’t been keeping meticulous track of our meals, but I do know that the slow cooker is helping me try new things on a regular basis, and that’s always a good thing.

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Two Tools

Posted in Equipment by Bethany on April 5, 2011

I have yet to put my Lodge skillet or can openers to use, but I realized that sometimes I buy equipment knowing I want to use it, but not actually using it until much later.

Case in point: instant thermometer. I bought this back in the summer of 2009, but I don’t think I really ever used it until a few months ago. Some of the more precise blogs/recipes will give you actual temperatures to aim for when cooking/baking and I’m starting to realize that it’s way easier than accidentally under/over cooking something and trying to fix it later.

Here’s the one I have:

I probably wouldn’t recommend it because I’ve had a couple issues with it, like the reviewers on Amazon. Pick one of the many other cheaper options and voila! Perfectly cooked meat.

The other handy-dandy tool I have is my Microplane zester.

Every blogger/cook/writer had it in their list of top kitchen tools so I felt obligated to buy it when I started getting more serious about my baking and cooking. It comes in handy when a recipe requires lemon zest or dealing with ginger. I don’t use it too often, but it’s a good friend to have. Unlike the thermometer, I think Microplane is THE brand for this type of tool- so make sure to save yourself the heartache and buy the right brand.

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Recent Purchases

Posted in Equipment by Bethany on March 15, 2011

I’ve been a little MIA, I admit, but I wanted to post about the things I bought today!

I’ve been hearing about these Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillets forEVER. I don’t know why I opted against registering for one, but it was finally time to buy. They’re honestly pretty cheap ($25 for 12″, $15 for 10″) and apparently ah-may-zing- read the reviews on Amazon!

The 12″ is the “standard”, I think, but I opted to buy the 10 1/4″ because it’s a size that’s more reasonable for me and because they’re really, really heavy pans. The 12″ is EIGHT pounds! The 10 1/4″ is a little more reasonable at 6lbs, so hopefully it’ll do the trick. If I love it enough, maybe I’ll invest in a bigger one later.

I’m excited about this because there are a handful of recipes I’ve seen that require/advise the use of a cast iron and so the possibilities abound! Yay new recipes!

I also bought myself a couple of these Amco can openers. I registered for an electric can opener, which I really like, but figured it would be good and prudent to have a manual can opener around. There was some huge debate in the reviews, though, about how the new ones are made in China and the older awesome ones were made in the US. I’ll let you know if it’s as bad as they make it out to be.

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