There are so many slow cooker cook books! I just borrowed a bunch from the library! I wanted to jot down some notes for a few of them.
Better Homes & Gardens Ultimate Slow Cooker book
Better Homes & Gardens Ultimate Slow Cooker book – see my more detailed review on this book. Bottom line, great photos for over half the recipes plus prep and cooking times are also included, along with nutritional data. But the book is unfortunately loaded with way too many recipes using “shortcut” ingredients like canned soup and jarred sauces. Not for me, but it would work for those that need quick prep time without using all homemade ingredients.
Make it Fast, Cook it Slow
Make it Fast, Cook it Slow : the big book of everyday slow cooking by Stephanie O’Dea. Excellent book with recipes from appetizers to desserts. The book sits nicely on the counter, making it easy to read while cooking. Written by the “A Year of Slow Cooking” blogger, which means that all of the recipes are available online with photos and additional visitor comments. Which leads me to question why would you need to buy the book? It all depends if you like recipes in printed text or not. Check out the blog first and see if there are many recipes you’d like gathered together in one book.
The Book of Slow Cooking
The Book of Slow Cooking by Anne Sheasby. This is a really thin book, with interesting recipes; every recipe includes a finished dish photo, plus photos for three main steps. I like that she includes instructions for using smaller dishes inside the main crock insert. The introduction includes many helpful tips on slow cooker usage, including a great hint for adding cream or milk toward the end of cooking time to avoid curdling.
The recipes are all “from scratch” with none of the dreaded canned cream soup for an ingredient. She uses fresh ingredients! Yes, you can probably find a lot of similar recipes online for free, but it’s nice to have one book with classic recipes (ie pea soup) along with some unusual ones (ie fresh lemon sponge pudding). It’s certainly a great book for a beginner who needs some simple homemade slow cooker recipes. Awesome price at Amazon for a “very good” used copy. Under $3.50 including shipping.
Mary Engelbreit’s Fan Fare Cookbook
I had never heard of Mary Engelbreit before, but it appears that she is a wonderful illustrator/artist. She is not a cook, so it seems strange to me that she has released a bunch of cookbooks, relying on friends and family to supply the recipe content. I borrowed the 120 Slow Cooker Recipe Favorites: Mary Engelbreit’s Fan Fare Cookbook from the library, and as I started browsing through the recipes, I felt a sense of deja vu. There is a whole chapter on chili…with 11 recipes….trouble is, how many chili recipes do you need? There’s Best Ever Chili, Tomatillo & Steak Chili, Grandmama Whynne’s Fall Foliage Chili, Green Chili Stew, Aunt Diane’s Chili, Aunt Jane’s Chili, Warm You Up Chili, Pork Chili, White Chili, Vegetarian Chili and Vegetable Chili. I just felt there were way too many similarities. It’s the same for beef stew: Best Beef Stew, Mouthwatering Beef Stew, Beefy Stew, Savory Stew, Jo’s Sweet & Sour Beef Stew, Slovenian Stew, Ms. Georgie’s Soup, Beefy Lentil Soup. It might have made better sense to limit the amount of recipes to only the best, but suggest alternative ingredients and cooking tips afterward. And be warned, there are many recipes using jarred tomato sauce, onion soup mix, and canned cream soup.
On a positive note, the book is hard cover with a spiral binding, perfect for reading on the counter while cooking. It has an old fashioned homey feel, like reading through your own family’s cookbook. But there are no finished dish photos, and trying to choose one recipe among pages of similar recipes might be confusing to some cooks. But it’s under $12 at Amazon, so it might be worth it for some, as long as the buyer realizes that they’re paying for a lot of similar recipes. On a side note, one of her other books Mary Engelbreit’s Fan Fare Cookbook: 120 Family Favorite Recipes can be purchased for under $7 at Amazon.
I love reading cookbooks, like some people love reading novels! I am inspired by recipes, and enjoy learning ideas from cookbooks; I like putting my own spin on a recipe rather than exactly following it. Please keep in mind that my opinions might be completely different from the other home cooks.