There are fads in wedding gifts just as there are fads in fashion. Back when my mom got married in the 50’s, the Pyrex glass percolator was big, along with steam irons. In the 70’s almost every new bride received a slow cooker. Brides in the 90’s got bread machines and brides now seem to be receiving those fancy single cup coffee brewing stations. Of all of them, I think the 70’s brides got the best deal.
I love my slow cooker. In fact, I love my slow cookers. I have three of them and all three see regular use in my kitchen. They may not be a fashionable way to cook but they use less energy than an oven or a stove top burner and, because they do their job without requiring supervision, they are very convenient.
I use my slow cookers for all sorts of things:
- If my stove burners are all occupied, a slow cooker is a great vessel for making stock.
- Foil wrapped potatoes can be prepared in a slow cooker, providing baked potatoes for a company dinner while leaving the oven free for other chores.
- Dried beans are much less expensive than canned beans but time consuming to prepare. If I soak them overnight, I can drain them, transfer them to a slow cooker, add stock and seasoning and then ignore them until dinner time, confident that they’ll be cooked to perfection.
- Roasts of all sorts—including chicken—can be cooked in a slow cooker. I prepare them the night before and store them in the fridge, putting them on to cook first thing in the morning.
- Stews are actually better if cooked in a slow cooker than on the stove.
- Baked pasta dishes and other casseroles can be prepared in a slow cooker.
- If I have a house full of company, I can start a pot of steel cut oats before I go to bed, knowing I’ll have a hot breakfast ready when I get up in the morning.
- Bread puddings, rice puddings and fruit cobblers have all found their way into my slow cookers.
- Over the holidays they become impromptu punch bowls, keeping apple cider, hot toddies or winter sangria warm and convenient to my guests.
I’m sure there are countless other ways to use a slow cooker and I’m open to learning them all. I think I’ll invest in some magazines. I see that many of them are featuring slow cooker meals these days. Right now though, I’ll count my blessings. I’m fortunate, indeed, to have been a 70’s bride. A bread maker wouldn’t have been nearly as versatile.