The Classic Slow Cooker: Best Loved Family Recipes To Make Fast And Cook Slow, by Judy Hannemann
As someone who is no stranger to cookbooks despite, or maybe because, such reading habits are somewhat unusual for someone in my position , I found this to be an enjoyable and even somewhat poignant read. It was poignant, for example, that the author several times in the recipes refers to something her late husband liked, making this book a labor of love and at least somewhat of loss as well. Also, it was striking that the author was slow to do slow cook meals, starting them only as a wife and engineer with some children to take care of and a busy life. I think that the author’s background as an engineer and the precision in which she speaks has a lot to do with the enjoyment I found in this book, as in less capable hands this may not have been nearly as much fun to read, personally speaking. That said, my standard for cookbooks to be enjoyable is pretty low, meaning that I have to see a few recipes I would be willing to eat or make (or both!) myself, and this book met that rather low standard even if there are many dishes in this book that I would not eat without substantial modifications.
The book itself is a short and straightforward one, as one would expect given its genre, just over 150 pages full of photographs of the tasty-looking dishes inside. The author begins with an introduction and a generous serving of praise to those that helped her with recipes, along with a discussion of what slow-cooker to choose based on one’s life and cooking demands. After this the author moves systematically through the types of dishes that can be made in a slow cooker, some of the more notable or intriguing ones which I will highlight. First the author tackles appetizers (1), including Asian orange chicken wings and a chex mix. The author then turns her attention to soups (2), including beef barley soup and a hearty Northeast bean soup that would be really tasty with turkey sausage, probably. After this there is a look at chicken dishes (3), including maple-kissed roasted chicken, roasted drumsticks, a creole seasoning blend, chicken & noodles, and teriyaki chicken, among other dishes–no surprise this was my favorite chapter of the whole book. The author spends a chapter talking about pork (4), although even here some of the dishes would probably be tasty with beef ribs or a rack of lamb instead. A lengthy chapter on beef (5) follows where the author shows a love of Swiss steak despite its low pedigree among cooks. Some tasty pasta dishes follow (6) like a five-cheese lasagna and a baked ziti before the author gives some side dish recipes (7) like candied baby carrots and citrus Greek potatoes and slow cooker baked potatoes, all of which sound yummy. The book then ends with some sweet treats (8) like apple pie cake and a peanut butter cup trifle, which sound pretty tasty as well.
There are some clear patterns to notice in terms of the recipes that the author most enjoys. Her dishes are not particularly fancy and include a fair amount of convenience ingredients and seem to be designed for busy people that like tasty but not particularly demanding foods. She is fond of fruits and vegetables as well as the use of, say, sour cream rather than cream of _______ soups. The way that the author uses creative rubs and sauces for her dishes as well, including multiple varieties on some dishes and separate recipes for flexible sauces, is something to appreciate as well. One gets the sense in reading this book that the recipes are not merely attempts to be fancy or gain hipster credibility but rather to provide recipes that have been tried, probably repeatedly, in the environment of being a busy mother who has to feed a hungry and probably somewhat demanding family. The recipes feel lived in, feel tried and appreciated, and that is something to savor for those of us that have demanding tastes for food but not necessarily a great interest in spending a lot of time making said food.
 See, for example: