For Christmas this year, my family wanted to know what to get my husband as a gift. My husband, Carlos, likes things that are useful. I knew right away what my gift to him would be: a long fishing pole to use in the ocean. After last summer’s exciting catch (with a not-so-big fishing pole), my husband wanted to move on to the bigger guys. However, besides the fishing pole I couldn’t think of anything else he really needed. Then, one night at dinner, we were discussing different meals and Carlos said he wished he had a pressure cooker. With this item, he enthusiastically told me, he could make seafood soup, and homemade black beans, mashed potatoes and many other things in the pressure cooker. I told my mom, who didn’t quite believe that was what he really wanted. “He won’t get excited over that,” she said with somewhat of a grin on her face.
Fast forward, Christmas morning at my family’s house. Carlos couldn’t guess what was in the big boxes from my family, and when he unwrapped them…well, let’s just say his face lit up like that of a little boy! All that morning, my grandmother and Carlos explored the pressure cooker–the recipe booklet it came with, and all its features. They even tested out a potato in it. My mom took me aside and thanked me for the gift suggestion, pleased that he enjoyed it so much. The standing joke now is that the pressure cooker won out over the fishing pole.
I myself was excited to have received a cookbook with recipes for slow cookers, and was finally able to try it out on my own. With our new kitchen tools, we have dined on many a gourmet meal and no longer need to go out to eat “fancy.” Both the slow cooker and pressure cooker are fabulous kitchen tools to have, because with the slow cooker you can prepare ahead and let it cook all day while you are at work. With the pressure cooker you can make a delicious, healthy meal or side in just minutes.
While the days are still short and chilly, take some time to explore these recipe books from OWL and try out some new ones in your own slow cooker or pressure cooker.
The name says it all in How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food. This huge cookbook covers all the major food groups, and recipes from appetizers to desserts and everything in between. Check out page 506 for a section on “The Basics of Pressure Cookers” and a few pressure cooker recipes, including a few for beans. We eat a lot of black and red beans at my house since Carlos is an expert at cooking them and adding special, tasty ingredients. With the pressure cooker, we can cut the cooking time in half!
Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with your Slow Cooker has a great selection of easy and quick recipes for your slow cooker. There are sections on appetizers, breakfast, breads, soups and stews, main dishes, and (most surprising to me) desserts. I never thought you could do desserts, or breads for that matter, in a slow cooker!
Cover and Bake: Casseroles, Pot Roasts, Skillet Dinners, and Slow-Cooker Favorites contains such delicious slow cooker recipes as Curried Chicken Thighs with Peas and Potatoes, Moroccan Spiced Chicken and Apricot Stew, and some other great recipes in the skillet like Thai Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Tofu.
Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker offers many new, and innovative recipes outside of the “standard” slow cooker ones. You may not think of making jams and chutney in the slow cooker, but it is possible and there is a nice section on this in the back. I also enjoyed reading a little about the history of the slow cooker and its origins in the beginning of this cookbook.
Slow Cooker Revolution, like the previous book, takes a modern look at the “crock pot.” A full range of recipes, including a section on enchiladas and tacos, and also brunch, gives you a wide selection of uses for the slow cooker. There are helpful hints in the beginning of the book on “getting to know your slow cooker,” and for each recipe there is a little “why it works” section, explaining why certain ingredients are added etc. A very handy cookbook!
Once you get the hang of using the slow cooker or pressure cooker, you can begin to create your own recipes or variations on ones in the books. I know for my husband and I, it gives us something to look forward to during the week and is fun to prepare and experiment with together.
Sarai is the Library Assistant who is currently enjoying her own slow cooker meals and episodes of Downton Abbey.