Welcome to Friday Food Reviews where I will be covering a different food or product each week and looking at… what are they? where do they grow, what can we substitute them for in a recipe, are they safe to eat, how to store them, how to use them, cook them, anything connected to that food. or product..all the why’s and the wherefores…it will, of course, be mainly my own opinion or a known fact…good or bad…there may even be a tried and tested recipe…or three…
This week it’s…Slow Cookers…
Slow cookers are healthy as they rely on low heat to prepare food, which reduces the chances of nutrient destruction, unlike other cooking styles.
How much electricity does one use? Depending on their size, slow cooker wattage runs from as little as 50 watts to over 300 watts. That’s not a lot of power, and even when you consider that you leave one cooking 3 quarts of food for 8 hours a day, a 200-watt slow cooker will use only 1.6 kWh.
Let’s address the elephant in the room...lead leaching...
Due to the popular use of crock pots and slow cookers since the 1970s… There is an increasing worry about potential lead poisoning… While slow cookers and crock pots of any age can cause worry, the older the cooker is the more lead-leaching potential it has.
Microscopic cracks and general wear-and-tear of the inner ceramic pots are where the concerns come from… Home cooks using old, but still, operable slow cookers should be checking for even the minutest of cracks…, slow cookers from the 1990s might want to be replaced for a safer more modern unit.
Excessive lead exposure can cause attention disorders, physical development issues, pregnancy complications, and pain issues, among a host of other problems.
There are many ways lead has traditionally gotten into the body, through home renovations, drinking water, soil particles, and occupational hazards. Although we cannot control exposure in all instances, it is important when we do have control—as with cooking materials—that we make a proactive and healthy choice.
Cooking in a pot with a ceramic glaze at a higher temperature setting is generally much safer because the glaze stays sealed, the temperature is higher, and the time period of cooking is generally one hour or less. This is opposed to ceramic glazed slow cookers that often have contact with foods for six to eight hours at a lower temperature.
The more modern ones use other materials rather than ceramics with glazes…other options are a clay pot …clay pots have been around for thousands of years…plus some foods are far better cooked in a clay pot…particularly dishes made with tomatoes or peppers, or have added spices like paprika or sumac,, the clay pot will bring out the sweetness and enhance the flavour.
Cooking with a slow cooker…ideal here where it’s hot and humid as it doesn’t heat my kitchen…
It’s ideal for cooking Hot Cereals: I used to love to make breakfast overnight for the morning when my children were young… You can make oat bran, oatmeal, and corn porridge let the slow cooker do the work and not a burnt bottom in sight…Those of you who know me and follow this blog know how very good I am at burning saucepans -sigh-
Porridge, eggs, mango chutney…I am an expert…lol…my other half is also very good at cleaning burnt saucepans…
Now let’s look at what you can cook…
All you need to do is sit your chicken on a bed of vegetables and add some stock then cook as per the times for your particular slow cooker …I cook mine on slow for about 4 -5 hrs and then crisp the skin under the grill/broiler…the veggies and that lovely juice I sometimes use to make gravy or keep it as a base for soup…nothing gets wasted.
You can do a pot roast in the same way…the beauty is it cooks while you are shopping, writing, taking the kids to football or tennis…and nothing gets burnt or dried out…
Stuffed Bell peppers…
- 6 large bell peppers
- 1lb ground beef (at least 80% lean)
- 1cup finely chopped onions
- 1tsp salt
- 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2cups cooked white rice
- 1can (15 oz) organic tomato sauce
- Fresh or dried basil
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese or any melting cheese…like mozzarella or Jack.