Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook

by Beth Hensperger and Julia Kaufmann

Available in paperback. Harvard Common Press, 2005; ISBN: 1558322450; 512 pages.

I want to use my crockpot more often. It's just so nice to be able to cook dinner in the morning or afternoon instead of during "happy hour." But we can't eat the same thing everyday. I need variety and thought I would get it with this book. It contains 350 recipes! Well, I got variety, but not the kind I was seeking.

First of all, there are no pictures. I don't like cookbooks void of photographs. I want to know what my meal is supposed to look like! So much of enjoying food is in the appearance. Pictures encourage me to try recipes I might otherwise have ignored. Without pictures, I've ignored a lot of recipes.

Secondly, a huge portion of this book is devoted to secondary courses: sauces, breads, sides and desserts. If I want to make a cake, I'm going to use my oven, not my crockpot. Maybe I'm being too traditional. The point of this book is to be less traditional, so I guess these recipes are good. The problem is many take less than 1-2 hours to cook. Isn't the purpose of a slow cooker to make your meal in the morning and eat it later? I want recipes that make main courses and give me at least 5 hours of "down time" between prep and serve.

Finally, the recipes I did try were less than spectacular. In fact, there are only two recipes from this book that I've marked "keepers." The Corned Beef and Cabbage is fantastic and has become a regular on our menus; the Pork with Apples was also good. Other than these two, I've not found much we like from this book.

Final Thoughts: Disappointing. I'm going to keep searching for more "keepers" in this book, but only because I have it. I wish I hadn't spent the money. Speaking of money's worth, the binding on this book is not great. The book is too big for a paper cover and adhesive binding. The pages of mine are already falling out. Overall, I'm not happy with this purchase.

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