Crockpot Rant….

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Lois Davey

I’m getting to be what some might call a bit of a cranky old crock who’s going to pot so guess what I want to rant about … that’s right:crockpots. Crockpot recipe cookbooks to be precise.

I’ve just spotted yet another new crockpot recipe book collated (no doubt in some haste) by an author keen to leap on the bandwagon of this hyped-up fad.

My faithful old crockpot has been with me for thirty-odd years and often comes in handy for those times when I’m not able to be darting back and forth to the kitchen to monitor pots on the stove or in the oven. Or, for when I have a piece of meat I suspect might be a tad on the tough side.

That is the reason they were invented.

Crockpot cooking is not fun – it’s aim is convenience. If you haven’t the time to spend lovingly tending a stove-top meal (tasting, adding, fiddling, modifying etc) you chuck everything in the crockpot, flick the switch and go about your other more boring business.

But about a year or so ago someone, somewhere in a marketing division of a crockpot manufacturer’s head office was charged with the task of boosting ailing crockpot sales.

It was a crafty and stealthy operation and, looking back, it’s hard to decipher where they actually began it.

Did the promotion of the crockpots come first, or the appearance on supermarket shelves of packets of slow-cooker recipe mixes. Or did they persuade a food writer to come up with a book first in order to trigger demand. It’s all a bit of a chicken and egg conundrum, albeit a money-spinning one.

A while ago I was sent a few packets of slow-cooker recipe bases. I viewed these up, down and sideways and for the life of me could not see why they should be so specifically labelled for crockpot use. The “beef and red wine casserole”

and “beef with onion gravy” sachets were nought but variants on Maggi’s range of “Cook in the Pots” (any pot will suffice). The minestrone recipe base merely contained a flavour sachet and a handful of dried kidney and borlotti beans.

I guess it is the words “slow-cooker” on these packets that persuade people to rush out and buy one of these gadgets because they are under the impression that a minestrone cannot be successfully created in anything other than a plug-in pot left to its own devices for several hours.

But I rant in vain. The damage has been done, pockets have been lined. Thousands (of the culinary gullible) have raided stores for a “slow-cooker” and, with one of those many specific cookbooks at their side and a pantry full of “slow-cooker recipe bases”, now fervently believe. Seven days a week probably, until someone, somewhere in the marketing division of the head office of a pressure-cooker manufacturer…..



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8 thoughts on “Crockpot Rant….

  1. Lois Davey has raised some valid points about slow cookers and we can all be taken in with every new appliance that comes on to the market. But as we look back on our culinary history in N.Z. our pioneering Grans and mothers would have welcomed many of the new appliances. The coal range followed by the electic stove, fridges when electricity became available. I came to N.Z as a 4yr old in 1946 and grew up on a farm north of Auckland. Electricity came to the area in 1938 and my Gran got a Neeco stove but the coal range was still used at times. It took a considerable amount of persuasion from my parents to convince Grandpa to buy a small fridge for Gran , neither of them drove a car and Grandpa had no interest in modern machinery. Some of us remember when electric stoves came with automatic features , one could set them to come on at a certain time and the meal would be ready later.

    There are so many different appliances on the market today and I agree we don’t need them all and we can easily be taken in by the marketing strategy.

    I didn’t buy a crockpot when they came on the scene about 30yrs ago but I did buy one about 2yrs ago and I find it very useful , mostly over the winter months. I still rate my Le Creuset casserole as my favourite cooking pot and it is in constant use. The cost of electricity could be a factor for many as the slow cookers use minimal power. I brown meat/onions for stews /casseroles that I cook in the slow cooker. Corned beef is very good cooked in the slow cooker. My slow cooker is not large so if have larger numbers for meals or if I want to cook a larger amount so that half can be put in the freezer I use my oven.

    One thing my eldest daughter pointed out though was if one starts the slow cooker before leaving home in the morning for work but doesn’t get home until around 6.p.m the cooking process can be too long ,are there some with timers ?

    I hope though that we don’t start being appliance snobs. I think that there are many people out there who can still cook great food in older electric stoves, not everyone can afford Ilve or Gaggenau.I have a microwave oven which I find useful but I don’t have one in our caravan which is a modern English one about 6yrs old because I find the full gas oven is all I need.

  2. when making a stew/ caserole I always make dumplings with plenty of parsley to pop on top for the last hour–delish !

  3. I’ve had my old Ralta crockpot since around 1976 and it’s been regularly used ever since. In fact, it gets so much use that there were times when I wished I had two, so I bought a second one, oval. The Ralta gets used for cooking a main course and the smaller Breville I use for desserts. Both are used for making bulk soups at the beginning of winter, to be kept in the freezer for hot lunches. I also cook rice in bulk, both brown and white, and put it in the freezer for the occasional quick fried rice meal or for breakfast, Asian style, with egg and furikako. It’s just a pity that the modern slow cookers cook so hot, supposedly as a safety feature, but as I’ve said, my old Ralta hasn’t poisoned me yet, even after over 30 years use!

  4. I love my crockpot. I wouldnt be without it.

    I only use for those tough cuts of meat or for those days where I want a casserole.
    I simply love the smell that emits from it during the day.

    I also dont understand the hype about crockpots, to me it was an item your meant to have along with your jug,microwave and toaster.

    I would love to cook a casserole in the oven but I just dont have the pots to cook it in..So my crockpot gets used instead.
    I dont believe in slow cooker recipe books. Most of my cooking is by taste.
    I do admit I use those sachets, but only as a flavour base and I add many other herbs,spices, sauces to it..I also dont just buy the slow cookers one, I buy what one I think will work with my meat that I have.

  5. I wouldn’t like to be without my crockpot. Years ago I had a pressure cooker, it was great for me to come home (often very late) from work and have a meal cooked quickly. I knew then that it was always better reheated the next day, when the flavours had all developed, but my Mother used to say the same about her casseroles and stews cooked the traditional way. I like having prepared the crockpot meal in the morning leaving me time to do other things during the day. I don’t use sachets, I add whatever I think will go well; wine, vinegar, spices, herbs, sauces, honey, etc.

  6. Me too! I thoroughly dislike the flavour of meat cooked in a crockpot. I have had mine for about 25 years now. My husband uses it for casseroles, which he freezes in single serves and I use it at school to make bread.

  7. I thought I was one of the only people who just didn’t uderstand the slow cooker – crockpot revival. Yes of course I see the benefit in leaving the house for the day while dinner cooks but it isn’t my preferred way of cooking.
    I like to cook vegetables off gently in oil in a frying pan, brown meat and then combine them with stock in a cast iron casserole and cook in the oven for as many hours as required. To me the flavour and texture of this cooking method is superior to crockpot cooking.

  8. LOL!

    I do agree – I love my crockpot for the days we arrive home late after sports practice or when I want to get organised early in the morning. But in many ways I prefer to use my cast iron casserole which I think gets a better result.