Friday, June 6, 2008
A Slow Burn over my Slow Cooker
About 3 years ago, I purchased (or was given as a gift - I don't remember which) a Rival Smart-Pot 5 quart Crock-Pot. I was so excited! My old slow cooker was a cheap-ish one I was given as a wedding gift some 13 years earlier. I had used that trusty slow cooker to death. Tons of giant batches of spaghetti sauce, baked beans, chicken and sauce stuff, and lots of other stuff had been slowly cooked to tender goodness in there, but it was falling apart and needed to be replaced.
This new Crock-Pot was so shiny! So clean! So huge! So substantial! It was much more heavy duty than my last one and I was excited to use it. The first few batches of stuff were over cooked and I couldn't figure out what I had done wrong. These recipes had always worked in the other one, what had I done wrong? I thought that maybe it was a size issue; the other slow-cooker had been a 4 quart and this one was a 5 quart, meaning that it didn't fill up as much, maybe that caused it to get too hot? The next thing I tried was a huge batch of spaghetti sauce - on low. It was boiling withing an hour - what the heck? I remember talking to my sister about the problem and she said she thought she had heard that slow-cookers were now being made to cook at a higher temperature due to food safety concerns. That made some sense, after all, cooking something all day on "low" could, theoretically, cause bacteria to grow.
So I just put up with it. I cooked things for three hours instead of the recommended 6, I alternated between the "low" setting and the "warm" setting, I propped the lid open for part of the cooking time. Nothing seemed to help and it was ticking me off. Yesterday was the proverbial straw (and I was the proverbial camel - picture that!), I started my Crockery Beanery recipe from the Saving Dinner cookbook, on "low," at approximately 11:15 am, then I left to go have lunch with my sister. When I got home at 1:40 pm my recipe was burned on the bottom!! Just two hours and twenty minutes later!! I thought, this cannot be right. So, I did what any computer savvy 21st century woman would do - I put "Rival crock-pot too hot" in Google and hit return. One of the first results was a link to the Amazon listing for this crock-pot, there were 95 comments/ratings for this crock-pot and 93 of them said versions of this, "Don't buy this product! This crock-pot cooks way too hot! It burned my food! I'm taking it back! I hate it! Don't waste your money!" (Go read the reviews if you don't believe me)
My first reaction was joy - I'm not crazy! I have been cooking these recipes right and it is the cookers fault not mine! The next thought was sadness. Why have I been putting up with this for three years? Why didn't I do some research and figure it out a long time ago? I have a tendency to do this in my life, I just settle for something even though there might be something way better out there. Sometimes it is an object (like my crock-pot) but sometimes it is a situation (putting up with someone rude when I could have asked them nicely to stop and it would have changed everything).
Needless to say, I'll be buying a new crock-pot soon. But I'm going to go read the reviews on Amazon before I bring home anything!!