12-04-2009 10:03 AM
Stephanie O'Dea prepared a different dish in the slow cooker every day for 365 days. Some dishes worked (creme brulee), and some do not (fudge). Her new book, Make It Fast Cook It Slow shares her best recipes, and slow cooking secrets.
Please welcome Stephanie to our board, and please bring all your slow cooker questions!
12-05-2009 10:58 AM
Thank you, Allison! I'm happy to be here--- thank you for having me.
I look forward to anwering any of your burning (simmering?) slow cooker questions!
12-05-2009 11:51 AM
Hi, I just found your blog about 2 months ago and I LOVE it! I can't wait to check out your book, I want to buy it for my SIL's.
My questions is, I recently bought a new crockpot because I had lost the knob for setting the temp on my old one, but somehow to get the features I wanted I ended up with a crock that is really to big for most things I cook for my family. Can I still use it if it is only half full, or should I look around for a smaller crockpot?
12-05-2009 11:57 AM
That's a great question!
Yes. You're absolutely right, that slow cookers work the best when they are about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full, but you can achieve this in your new large cooker by simply inserting an oven-safe dish (corninware, pyrex, baking pan. etc.) and loading your food into it. This will create a smaller cooking vessel inside of your stoneware, and will help to prevent the food from overcooking or drying out.
12-05-2009 12:01 PM
I check your blog regularly and have built up quite a pile of paper by printing the recipes. If I were to buy your book, could I find the recipes there or are the ones you put on the blog new ones that are not in the book? Linda
12-05-2009 12:06 PM
The book has 338 of the very best recipes from the site and from my New Year's Resolution challenge. I really appreciated all of the recipe tasting and testing the website readers provided----it was a bit of an insurance policy that the recipes really worked and tasted good! :-)
The book is set up the same way the site is formatted, with the verdicts and personal notes. I did choose to not included pictures, though, to keep the book cost down.
12-05-2009 12:32 PM
i have been wanting to tell you that i quite like your cook book, i just got it last week after i had stumbled across your blog and i think that they are both great. Not only because it was a cook book for a crock pot (i looooove mine all equally, or so i tell them, the crock pots...) but also becuase it is gluten free and that is so refreshing to see and your tips are usefull, things i would not have known about on my own as it is all still very new to me, the no gluten thing. I have also looked around your page and found other information that i have found usefull and enjoyed. I have sent links for your page to so many people that i know and they have commented their like as well. Your book will be one given this year for gifting, i look forward to seeing more from you in the future.
12-05-2009 12:40 PM
Vrooooom, thank you for your sweet note! I'm so happy to be of any help to you in the kitchen. The going-gluten-free thing was a complete surprise to our family, and once I figured out the easiest and least expensive way to embark upon a gluten free diet was to cook from scratch, the slow cookers came to the rescue!
thank you again for your support, it means so much.
12-05-2009 01:51 PM
So happy to see your blog post today! I just ordered two copies of your book, for me and my mother-in-law!
Quick question: I make a white chili in the crock pot with dried beans. The recipe calls for 5 cups of water to 1 cup of dried white beans (no soaking), plus a can of cream of chickecn soup. The recipe came out perfect chili consistency the first time I made it. Then, every time since, it has been so soupy. I've even experimented with less water - still soupy. Any recommendations? Should I pre-soak the beans?
Thanks so much!
12-05-2009 02:01 PM
I have noticed this type of inconsistency when beans aren't pre-soaked. I'm sure there's some sort of scientific explanation, but my thinking is that the moisture in the air/humidity level differences that occur day to day has something to do with it, and also if your slow cooker tends to sometimes release steam/condensation through a vent or a gap in the lid.
If you do pre-soak, you'll have more consistent results, and the beans will cook faster. I'd soak them overnight, dump the water (this will help if anyone in your house has "digestive" issues :-) ), then cover with fresh water, and add your can of cream of soup.
12-05-2009 02:02 PM
Thanks for being here I have a couple of questions.
I've never really been a slow cooker user, but I had an absolutely amazing roast beef in France that had been prepared in one--pink, juicy, and perfect. Do you have a roast beef recipe in your book, and if not, what else do you think might be similar in payoff out of the recipes in your collection?
Secondly, where do you think the novice to slow cooking should start? I generally would be cooking for just 2 people.
12-05-2009 02:15 PM
I'm happy to be here! I love message boards.
Two of my favorite slow-cooked beef dishes in the book are the Pomegranate Beef and a Pot Roast with Red Wine and Cranberries. I also get lots of requests from friends and family to make the Chile Verde, Hirino Psito, and the Java Roast. The book also includes a traditional Roast Beef with roasted garlic and onions.
If you are brand new to slow-cooking and are mostly feeding 2, I'd suggest getting a 4-quart slow cooker. 4-quarts is a good size for most of the meals, appetizers, and desserts, and it's easy to trim back the quantities for a large soup, stew, or chili. I like the programmable slow cookers that let the cook manually choose the temperature and time settings, and will automatically flip over to a warm setting when the food is done.
Many of my readers who cook for 2 like making a large batch of food to eat throughout the week, or to save for lunches or a freezer stash---but that's completely up to you. Most of the main courses and side dishes in the book serve 4 or more, because that's who I needed to feed throughout my year-long challenge.
12-05-2009 06:16 PM
I just came upon your blog and LOVE it.
I have a silly question. I am attempting to make your Hoison Chicken Wings but see no mention of cutting the wings at the joint. Can I simply skip this step, or is it best to cut the wings as most wing recipes dictate?
Thanks so much!
12-05-2009 06:29 PM
I'm glad you found me! I don't bother to trim the wing joints---I don't really enjoy touching chicken parts and prefer to just dump them in. If you are more comfortable cutting off the joints, by all means do so. Our wings always cook just fine with them intact, though.
12-05-2009 07:47 PM
Thanks so much for your prompt response (and providing the answer I was hoping for!). I don't understand why all recipes mandate that the the joint be cut and the tip of the wing disposed of... I couldn't tell by the photographs of your various wing recipes if you kept the joint intact. I feel fortunate to have contacted you "personally". I shall dump the wings into the slow cooker intact!
BTW...we just had your Chinese Lemon Chicken...delicious!
Thanks so much for your blog and your availability to answer my question. Needless to say, I've requested your book for Christmas!
12-06-2009 10:01 AM
Love, love, LOVE your website and am soon to purchase your book in e-book format! You have no idea how much you've helped this busy homeschooling mom of 3. Thank you so much!
I always end up soaking my crockpot and scrubbing like the dickens to get it clean. This particular pot is very "sticky" (especially after cooking anything with meat). I usually coat it with a bit of olive or coconut oil before adding ingredients, this helps a smidge. Is there a way to make this process easier?
12-06-2009 10:33 AM
What I do is as soon as my food is cooked. I remove it from the crock-pot, put it in a serving bowl, and fill the crock with hot water and a *little*(a drop or two) dawn dish washing liquid, turn it on high for an hour or two. Let it cool. Easy~
12-06-2009 10:41 AM
Hi Gypsy's Daughter,
Sticky? I usually empty the food from the slow cooker right away into a storage container, than fill it with soapy water to soak for an hour or so. I usually can wash the remaining **bleep** off with a sponge and more dish soap, although if there is room in the dishwasher I'll plop it in. I probably dishwash instead of handwash every 5-7 uses or so, and that really does a good job at getting anything stuck on off.
If dishwashing isn't a possibility and you've got major burnt on **bleep**, soaking overnight in soapy water with a dryer sheet floating on top will get it off (you could also use a tablespoon or so of liquid fabric softener if that's what you've got on hand). Then wash as normal and rinse super well.
I like it that you're using the olive oil, that's a great idea. Cooking spray will help, too!
12-06-2009 11:57 AM
I have been following your blog for over a year now and LOVE it. (Actually both blogs are great and work so well together. I have gotten my entire house organized thanks to totally together and dinner is more often than not-ready on time! A veritable miracle from a less than punctual person...)
Thank you for letting all of us benefit from your hard work!
- My question is, how do you transfer a 'regular' recipe, over to the crockpot? I have a cranberry chicken dijon recipe I want to try in the crock, but I have no idea if I should trim the quarters, or cut the cranberry sauce back, add veggies, etc... What about accounting for 'fatty' cuts of meat, liquid, and time frame?
- Same goes for baking. (Are we allowed to ask more than one question?) How do you decide what to add and take away, and how long to cook it for? (Think pumpkin bread, corn bread, and dense cakes)
- Also, my newer oval crockpot seems to have a 'burn spot' in it. Whenever I cook anything other than soup, (yes, it's usually 2/3rd-3/4's full) whatever is against the back left side section burns. Sauce, meat, especially tapioca and your granola (pretty much anything less than juicy and especially sugary). The spot is about the size of saucer. I have taken to turning the crockpot during cooking, and that helps somewhat. Do you think layering foil inbetween the crock and pot would help, is it just faulty, or...???
P.S. I have been slowly cooking (ha ha) my way through your blog and haven't had a failed recipe yet! Your yogurt recipe seems to be the real clincher when it comes to recommendations!
12-06-2009 12:11 PM
I'm glad to be of help to you and your family! I'm really hoping to be more active on the totallytogetherjournal site this upcoming year.
I have a slow cooker with a hot spot, too. It's an older one, so I know it's no longer under warranty. I'd suggest contacting the manufacturer if this a newer pot.
As for converting recipes, I don't really have a fool-proof method, I just give it a try and see what happens. I'd venture to guess that your chicken dish would work well, but you are more than welcome to email me the proportions and I'll take a look. It sounds wonderful! For baking, I've used straight baking recipes word-for-word, and have monitored the pot to check on the baking process. I do like venting the lid of the crock with a spoon or chopstick to release moisture and steam.