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Slow Cooker Recipies

If you don't own a slow cooker, quit reading this and run out and buy one. They are one of the greatest inventions of modern man, the very pinnacle of the culinary arts. I like them so much for two reasons. First, they can take cheap cuts of meat and make them more tender than the finest filet mignon. As a broke student, this gets two thumbs up from me. Second, they're easy to use: just dump a bunch of food into one, turn it on, and come back a couple of hours later, and it's done. It's almost impossible to burn or otherwise botch food in this way. The things themselves are even fairly cheap; I have a brand name, 5-quart pot that cost about $20.

Below you'll see some general information about slow cookers, and below that some recipes. I found most of them in cookbooks or on the internet, but I've altered the ingredients to suit my particular tastes. I hope you like them as well.

Slow Cooker Facts:

- Food being made in a slow cooker rarely requires stirring. If you want to check on your meal, just look through the glass lid. If you open it, you let out as much as 80% of the heat and it can take upwards of a half hour to regain the proper temperature.

- Don't use garlic in a slow cooker. I've used garlic on a number of occasions, and for some reason slow cooking seems to make it about 100 times stronger than it usually is. Would you sit down and eat a bulb of garlic raw? No? Then keep it out of the cooker.

- Trim off as much fat from the meat as you can. In a slow cooker, the fat will liquefy. Then, when you cool the food (refrigerating leftovers, for instance), it will solidify into a solid block. I made chicken once and left the fat on; the next day I had something resembling Spam.

- Browning meats before slow cooking isn't necessary, but it can be a good idea for two reasons. First, it will remove some of the fat. Second, browning meat over high heat releases flavours that are not released in slow cooking, and so your meal will be tastier.

- A number of "slow cooker" products are available, such as slow cooker liners and slow cooker helper, from the guys that make hamburger helper. I don't use either. They make the recipes more expensive and, even if you leave, say, chili in the crock pot overnight, it's a breeze to clean after an hour of soaking. The helper I don't use because, to be honest, it raises the cost. There are plenty of recipes out there that tell you exact what to do to make a tasty meal; you don't need to buy some prepackaged spices for it.

-Beans and corn are really hard to cook in a slow cooker. As they heat, the water leaks out of them. If you overcook beans or corn, they'll shrink down, and whatever you're cooking them in will get extra watery. I added canned corn to a beef stew I made once, and it came out extra watery.

On to the recipes:

Bachelor Roast

Barbecue Sandwiches with homemade BBQ sauce

Remove fat from beef. Combine all in slow cooker; stir until homogeneous. Coat meat with sauce. Shred meat (the original called for using 2 forks to do this; I couldn't. A knife and fork, or your hands, work just fine.) Skim any remaining fat off of the sauce. Place the shredded meat back in the slow cooker and cook 30 minutes.

This recipe originally called for less vinegar and less red pepper, but that was far too sweet for my tastes. I'm sweet enough already, so I use a little more. I'm going to try and make it using spicy catsup rather than the regular tomato kind; I'll let you know how it goes.

French Onion Soup

Beijing Chili

Cranberry Pork

This was a really tasty dish, though I suspect it will be much nicer in the autumn, when such a recipe makes sense to make. Add all together, cook low 7-9 hours. Serve with rice, maybe?