Great Cookbooks for Families: Rock Out With Your Crock Out

[ 14 ] December 3, 2009 |

Reviewed by Katy Killilea

Who doesn’t like their dinner hot, ready, and waiting? For this and many other reasons, slow cookers make people happy. The notion of slow cookers as frumpy pot roast factories is completely outdated, if Facebook is any kind of bellwether. There all the cool kids are swapping secrets for transforming ingredients, slowly and effortlessly, into amazing meals. This year cookbooks are finally catching up to the humble appliance’s current batch of adoring fans.

makeitfastcovMake It Fast, Cook It Slow is the astounding collection of recipes from the (also astounding, if you’re into this kind of thing) home cook who resolved to use her slow cooker daily for an entire year. The collection started as a blog and makes a surprisingly useful and very diverse book. There are quite a few of the “dump in a jar of this and a glop of that” recipes (e.g. Applesauce Chicken or Cheeseburger Soup–featuring Velveeta!) that people pretend to hate (but love) as well as many more that use whole ingredients, prepared from scratch (like Quinoa Casserole or Chipotle Chicken with Sweet Potatoes). All this plus cool ideas like brownies baked–slow cooked, that is–in coffee mugs, then topped with ice cream. Did I mention instructions for making crayons and air freshener? Most of the recipes are geared toward families, and it’s all gluten free, since one of the author’s children has a wheat intolerance.

best slow

Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever is the first slow cooker book I’ve seen that is huge, comprehensive, and beautifully designed. The typefaces and photography make this great couch-time reading, and there’s a nice balance of lowbrow and high-ish brow cooking here. In our house the Refried Bean Casserole is given an A+ and can be made with the refried beans of your choice–whether that means you sort and start soaking the beans a day ahead, or crank open some cans. New classics  (Veggie Cassoulet, Chicken Braised in Stout) and old favorites like chicken pot pie and brisket are all here. This is, after all, a book with over 400 recipes–along with your pot’s instruction manual, it may be the only book you need.

bookcover_artofslowcookerArt of the Slow Cooker is just as gorgeous, less diffuse, and more showstopper than family-oriented. No shortcuts here: bar from your mind the bowls and skillets that will require washing once the Chevre and Pumpkin Lasagna is assembled in the cooker–it will be hot, ready and waiting at dinnertime, and the cleanup will be in the distant past by the time you dig in. And there are plenty of simpler recipes to knock one’s socks off. Curried Coconut Chicken Soup is made almost entirely from pantry ingredients and feels just right when stumbling in from a cold, dark, interminable soccer practice. Fancy or simple, the recipes here will convince any slow cooker skeptics that slow is the way to go.

The details:

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow
by Stephanie O’Dea
2009 Hyperion $19.99

Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever
by Diane Phillips
2009 Chronicle $24.95

Art of the Slow Cooker
by Andrew Schloss
2008 Chronicle  $24.95

The publishers of these books provided copies for review. Kidoinfo has no undisclosed relationship with the publishers and does not accept payment for reviews.

Category: books / stories, food + recipes

Katy Killilea

about the author ()

Katy Killilea lives in Barrington with her husband, their sons (2001 + 2003), and a dog named Grover. Katy loves reading, cooking, loud pants, the Beehive in Bristol, and learning everything she can about Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease. She says more about that at Bigfoot Child Have Diabetes.

Comments (14)

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  1. Jaci Arnone Jaci says:

    I can’t wait to check these out. I love my crock pot…we even named her “Doris” She cooks dinner for me almost every night this time of year, since I’m off shuttling the kids around between 3-6 pm. Doris makes sure we come home to a nice, warm meal.

    I’m in a bit of a rut with my crock pot recipes, your post is perfect timing!

  2. Jamie says:

    I love this! Will have to check out the books. And I laughed out loud at your title. 🙂

  3. Elyse Major elyse says:

    i am rocking out as i type this to the tune of beef stew. dig my crock pot and use it weekly. food + liquid = yum

  4. joe says:

    The coq au vin in this month’s (week’s?) Whole Foods recipe flyer is REALLY GOOD.

  5. joe says:

    (All of the recipes in that edition of the flyer are slow-cooker recipes.)

  6. Isabelle says:

    I haven’t even read the article because I wanted to say how much I love the title.

  7. thanks, and that title KILLS me. have been wanting to crock for a while now, this helps.

  8. Thank you so much for including me in this wonderful round-up! I had such a ball with this project, and am so happy to help busy families in any way I can.

    oxxo steph

  9. Great post, Katy! I was wondering if anyone has a suggestion for a vegetarian slow cooker cookbook? I just inherited a slow cooker and I’ve been a bit stumped…

  10. calendar katy says:

    I like FRESH FROM THE VEGETARIAN SLOW COOKER a lot. It’s a hunk of a book and so nice to have the whole thing vegetarian and much of it is vegan.

  11. Wow…thanks! My crock pot is gathering dust and I’ve been meaning to bust it out. Can’t wait to ask Santa for one of these!

  12. S says:

    can’t wait to get the GF book, never can use most cookbooks, but the combo of crock pot recipes and gf…. YAY!!!!!

  13. erin goodman says:

    oh katy! i just love your cookbook reviews.

    this totally cracked me up:

    “There are quite a few of the “dump in a jar of this and a glop of that” recipes (e.g. Applesauce Chicken or Cheeseburger Soup–featuring Velveeta!) that people pretend to hate (but love)…”

  14. calendar kk says:

    Summer Slow Cooker recipes from Eating Well–none of them sound like my thing but I like the idea of using the SC on hot days.

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