Cooking With a Crock Pot
Cooking in a crock-pot is essentially like cooking in a pot on the stove. However, the heat distribution is more even and the active cooking time far less with a crock-pot. Individuals who lead busy lifestyles outside of the home and want to relax at home, such as truck drivers, can benefit from home cooked meals that require very little work.
One of the biggest benefits to crock pot cooking is that no one has to be standing over the food. The meal may take a long time to cook, but it will cook on its own. Once everything is in the crock-pot, there is nothing left to do but wait. Many drivers use this technique on the road to have a frech health meal when they stop for break.
Another benefit is that it is a simple home cooked meal. Everything that goes in the crock-pot can be fresh and healthy, yet the meal takes about as much effort as an unhealthy microwave meal. For those who do not mind throwing a meal in the microwave every now and then, a crock-pot is a great way to make a large batch of food and store some for microwaving later.
While crock-pot cooking is much simpler than most other methods of cooking, there are some general tips that help make it easier and tastier. The basics have to do with safety. People often leave crock-pots going while they are at work. This is usually fine. However, there are ways to make this practice safer. Put the crock-pot on a lower setting so it will not get too hot. Keep it out of reach of pets. Also, make sure that the food/liquid level in the crock-pot is at least two inches from the top. Crock-pots can boil over if they are too hot and too full. Finally, make sure to secure your crock pot in the truck when driving. Use a bungee cord to make sure it does not spill on turns or sudden stops.
Many crock pot recipes call for the addition of liquid. Sometimes, there is enough liquid in the food, such as beef, that will be drawn out during cooking. If not, adding a little bit of water can help. However, plain water reduces the flavor of the meal's contents. When adding water, put a little seasoning in the water that complements the meal. For example, a dash of gravy seasoning will help retain and enhance the flavor of beef.
Crock pot cooking really takes the stress out of eating on the road. Put all of the ingredients of the meal -- meat, potatoes and vegetables -- into the crock-pot and just let it cook. All of the flavor, vitamins and texture of the food is retained. Just be sure to add vegetables that cook quickly, such as broccoli, in last so they do not turn to mush.