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I have been quite interested in getting a slow cooker for quite some time now after hearing people say how good they were but I had always put it off. However after reading a few reviews on them I decided to take the plunge and purchase one. I have now owned my slow cooker for over a year and I am still using it regularly.
I had a look online at some different models but then I stumbled across a Breville one on Littlewoods.com and it was half price in the sale. The slow cooker cost me £24.00 and this came with free delivery as I have a catalogue account with Littlewoods. I felt that the Breville name was one that I could trust and the fact that it was half price meant that it was a bargain too and something I couldn't leave!
The slow cooker comes well packaged in a large cardboard box with polystyrene holding the cooker in place. The slow cooker is white with the Breville logo on the front as well as the cooking dial. There is a large crock pot with a 3.5 litre capacity which is removable and a glass lid. The cooker itself is quite bulky so if you did decide to purchase it you may wish to store it in a cupboard in between uses. I haven't stored mine away as yet as it is still in the "new" phase and I am intending to use it regularly.
As I mentioned the capacity of the cooker is 3.5 litres and you are advised not to overfill the crock pot, only filling it to around 2/3 of the way up. I have found that most of the meals I have made so far come up to around the half way mark on the crock pot and this makes a meal for my son and I plus a very generous amount for freezing.
I work twelve hour shifts on the days that I work and the days that I am off I like to prepare home cooked meals for my son and I like to do this most nights of the week. The idea of a slow cooker is that you can throw all your ingredients in the crock pot and then set it off to cook slowly throughout the day. This is so convenient for me as when my son is at school during the day I would prefer to spend time with him when he comes home rather than being chained to the cooker all evening! This way I can throw something together earlier in the day whilst he is still at school and know that when we are ready for it there will be a hot home cooked meal waiting for us with minimal effort.
To use the slow cooker as I mentioned earlier you can simply throw your ingredients into the crock pot and then set the temperature you require. This particular model has three different temperature settings and these are as follows:
Low: This setting simmers the food for an extended period of time such as over night. It can also be used as a keep warm function before serving your meal.
High: This setting is used for baking, cooking dried beans or pulses. You can also use this setting if you want your meal to be cooked a bi faster as it will cook foods in half the time required for the low setting.
Auto: The auto setting starts off cooking on a high temperature and then automatically adjusts to a lower heat setting. This is a perfect function for slow cooking meals when you are away for most of the day and the function I have used the most so far. When you have chosen which temperature setting you require the power indicator will light up red and the cooker will begin cooking.
As a guide if a recipe needs 30 minutes normal cooking time you can cook it on the auto setting for 4-6 hours or on the high setting for 1.5-2 hours.
So far I have made four main meals in my slow cooker. I have made a chicken curry, a chilli, a potato pie and a sausage casserole. I can honestly say I am really impressed with how the meals have turned out. The meat in the meals has come out so tender and full of flavour. I know people say you can use very cheap cuts of meat with a slow cooker but as yet I haven't done this as I am a bit wary of fatty meat as it makes me gag! I must also say that I have made sure I browned all the meats before setting them to cook in the slow cooker as apparently this helps them to soak up flavour. I also say I feel a bit more confident in having just browned the meat off quickly too.
Another thing that I have found I really like about having a slow cooker is the lovely smell which fills your house as the meal is cooking! Not only are you preparing a home cooked meal quite effortlessly but you can also smell how appetising it is throughout the day. The glass lid with this cooker is a great little addition too as you can peep into the cooker to see how things are coming along without the need to remove the lid.
The removable crock pot is a brilliant feature to this slow cooker as not only can you serve the meal directly to the table if you wish but it makes for easy cleaning of the cooker. I have noticed that during cooking some of the sauce can burn on the sides of the crock pot but if you get this into the washing up quite quickly after serving the meal it is easily removed after a quick soak in the water.
I have read online that you can also roast meats and even bake cakes in the slow cooker but I think I maybe need to invest in some recipe books so I can make full use of the cooker!
I am really pleased I bought a slow cooker and I think that it is a brilliant tool for the winter months when I can make warming casseroles and soups for my son and I.
I would recommend this particular slow cooker to people as it is a decent brand and a good price too. I think it would be a perfect kitchen addition for families as it is an easy way to cook lovely home cooked meals-even if you are out all day!
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