Customer Review

1,488 of 1,549 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, A Useful Slow Cooker Cookbook, January 26, 2011
This review is from: Slow Cooker Revolution (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The "new" name is "slow cooker" but most of us know the device as a "crockpot" because that's the name it was first marketed under a couple of decades ago. If you're like me, you got one because you thought, "Hey, I can put in the ingredients in the morning and have a tasty meal when I get home from work - cool". Then you found out that only certain recipes seemed to work well in the crockpot, er, slow cooker. You bought crockpot cookbooks, and found while many of them were beautifully designed with multiple and elaborate fonts, blank spaces for notes, line drawings of cute little collections of vegetables, the recipes either contained about 20 different ingredients or else the recipe required so much pre-browning, pre-sautéing, post-blending, post-broiling of the ingredients that it would just be quicker to cook the darn recipe once you got home from work.

I am really happy to say that "Slow Cooker Revolution" is the first sensible slow cooker cookbook in my collection of them. The book is very well designed. There is a page devoted to each recipe, and most recipes have a picture of the finished product. There is a list of ingredients, and from what I saw, everything there is available in my local supermarket. Each recipe starts off with a paragraph entitled, "Why It Works", in which the authors explain the choices behind certain ingredients or methods and why they work better than others. The recipes are clear-cut and easy to follow. Each recipe also an additional segment - either a "quick prep tip" or a "smart shopping" hint or an "on the side" short recipe. They also recommend products in these segments that have been determined to be the best in their other test processes (if you've ever watched "America's Test Kitchen" on PBS you'll know the tests I'm talking about); I like that they name names of the products.

As I read through the recipes, I found myself thinking, "that sounds really tasty" and more importantly, "I can do that". The recipes include both standards and favorites, you know, the kind of food that you would actually cook at home (or order in a favorite restaurant) and that your family would actually eat. The recipes are not just reprints of older crockpot recipes; they have reworked some basics and created totally new versions of others. There is not a lot of elaborate pre-preparation in these recipes. Sensibly, they recommend using the microwave to pre-cook some of the vegetables to both make sure they'll cook thoroughly in the recipe and to release more of the aromatics into the recipe. We're talking like five minutes in the microwave, so that's no big hardship. Some of the recipes do call for browning or sautéing certain meats or vegetables; I suppose there is no real way to avoid that since the name of the game is adding flavor to a process whose innate nature would tend to lose the flavor of some ingredients due to the long cooking time. There are a number of recipes highlighted as "Easy Prep" - they are the ones that are basically "throw everything into the slow cooker and turn it on".

What I also like about this cookbook are the extras, the pages that highlight things you should know about the ingredients you're using, e.g. "All About Broths", "Pasta 101", "All About Beef", "All About Using The Microwave And The Slow Cooker", etc. Very useful. This cookbook is definitely going to be a keeper for me, and I might be buying some other copies for the other cooks in my family. This is a good and useful gifting item.
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Comments

Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 60 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 8, 2011 9:44:00 PM PST
Lil' Mama says:
Thank you for writing such a thorough review! This is the next best thing to being able to flip through the book myself, and it's very helpful indeed. Have a great day!

Posted on Feb 9, 2011 8:16:27 AM PST
cece says:
Great review. Thanks. Do the recipes contain nutritional information?

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 10:29:01 AM PST
ReaderGirl says:
Thanks for this helpful review. I'm curious as to whether many of the recipes use cream soup as a base (cream of mushroom, etc.). I've always been disappointed when a slow cooker cookbook has tons of those recipes, because I just don't want to use something with that much saturated fat.

Posted on Feb 12, 2011 6:19:21 AM PST
DB says:
I have a question - This book is not publishwed until 02/15/11 - How can people be reviewing it when it hasn't even been released yet?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2011 8:27:02 PM PST
Mayfayre says:
@ DB: Vine reviewers get pre-release copies, advance reader's copies, uncorrected advance proofs and the like. That's why books can be reviewed before they are on sale.

@ ReaderGirl: I didn't really notice the use of prepared "cream of..." soups in the recipes. Broths were listed, as was actual cream in some recipes. At the beginning of the book they mention preferring using tapioca or a roux as a thickener.

@ cece: No, no nutritional information is shown by the recipes in the copy I reviewed. But the ingredient lists are mainly fresh, frozen or dried ingredients; the recipes look a lot healthier that the meals I normally prepare - lol. I haven't visited their website so I don't know if they have nutritional information posted there.

@ Lil'Mama: Glad that it was helpful to you. I usually try to include information that I would want to know when I do a review. ;-)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 13, 2011 6:45:06 PM PST
sue c. says:
I can tell you that there is some use of condensed soup. This book has been presented several times on QVC. Each time the macaroni and cheese is one of the dishes shown, and the vendor states that the base is canned cheddar cheese soup. That sort of turned me off, as did her recommendation for boxed mashed potatoes for the Shephard's Pie.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2011 4:17:13 AM PST
DB says:
Thank you for the response mayfayre. I am not sure what a "vine reviewer" is, but at least I know that people receive advance copies.

Posted on Feb 14, 2011 1:06:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Mar 10, 2011 12:18:31 AM PST
Excellent review!

- author Sam

@mayfayre: Do Vine reviewers get pre-release copies from publishers?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 14, 2011 5:32:46 PM PST
Mayfayre says:
@ Aesop-Sam: The books come to us through Amazon, but I'm assuming that they get them from the publishers. My copy of this book was annotated "Advance Uncorrected Proof - Not For Sale" and "This is an advance copy of a Feb. 2011 book - Not for resale. Final book will be in paperback format, four color throughout". The copy I have has color images on the cover, but the inside images are all black-and-white - that's one of the occasional drawbacks of advance copies, you don't get full-color sometimes.

@ Sue C.: I checked the recipes and the Mac & Cheese does use condensed cheddar cheese soup (in addition to 2 cups of shredded cheddar and 2 cups of Monterey Jack cheeses. In the "Why This Recipe Works" section, they mention that they use the condensed soup because the stablilizers in it serve to keep the creamy base of the dish from breaking, otherwise it wouldn't stay creamy over the long cooking time.

The Shepherd's Pie recipe, though, just called for "3 cups of mashed potatoes" and in the Quick Prep Tip section on the recipe page the reader is told how to make "Homemade Mashed Potato Topping", using russet potatoes. There's no mention at all of using boxed mashed potatoes in either recipe. They do say that you can subsitute the prepared mashed potatoes that are sold in the store-prepared or refrigerated section of the supermarket instead of making your own from scratch.

@DB: Vine reviewers are people asked by Amazon to review new books and products. I don't know the criteria behind their choice; you can't ask to become one. The reviews are totally independent; there is no influence placed on us to give a positive or a negative review.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 16, 2011 9:02:07 AM PST
J. Kennel says:
Vine reviewers are those who have reviewed books/items on Amazon and gotten lots of helpful votes. Amazon then invites the individual to become a "vine" reviewer and gives them the option to receive some free books/items in order to review them.
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