- Cranberry Vanilla Quinoa
- White Bean and Kale Stew
- Chorizo and Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole
- Chick’n Marsala
- Mashed Potato and Edamame Burrito Filling
- Pumpkin White Bean Lasagna
- Meatless Sausage-Mushroom Ragu
- Savory Cheddar Sausage Bread
- Mango Coconut Rice Pudding
- Chile-Chocolate Black Bean Brownies
|Publisher:||Fair Winds Press|
|Product dimensions:||7.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Vegan Slow Cooker Basics
Some people think a slow cooker is only really useful for cooking meat, and that is just not true. A slow cooker is the perfect tool in a vegan arsenal. I wouldn't be able to eat as many homemade meals without it.
Dry beans cook up like a dream in your slow cooker. It's great for making soups and stews in the winter, and it also has its place in a summer kitchen. Most of us still eat hot foods in the summertime, and a slow cooker is a great way to keep your house from heating up. You can even make a pizza in it!
The slow cooker also buys us time to focus on other things in our lives. If you work during the day, imagine dinner waiting when you walk in the door. If you are a stay-at-home parent or a college student, you can still have nice, nutritious meals without having to keep an eye on the stove or the oven. While it's true that delicate vegetables need to be added about thirty minutes before serving, that's still less effort than cooking everything from scratch on the stove. Plus, there are solutions or vegetable substitutions that you can use to make the recipes fit into your schedule.
Most of the recipes in this book cook from 7 to 9 hours on low. They might be ready before 9 hours, but most of the time the dish will hold for 9 hours. That flexibility provides enough time to drive home from work, etc. without worrying about dinner. If you're cooking on the weekend or work from home, you can check to see when the recipes are ready to eat. In most cases, the dish will be all set. One important exception to this is recipes that include dry beans. You can also speed up cooking by using high when low is called for. It cuts the cooking time in half.
Other recipes will cook faster, usually between 1½ to 3 hours. Pasta or grain dishes just cook faster, and they won't hold for 8 hours without becoming mushy. These recipes may not fit into your workday routine, but they are great for days off or evenings when you want to eat later. There are some grains, such as wheat berries, oat groats, and spelt, that can take all day cook. Try using those when faster cooking grains just won't work for you.
I like to make some of the 2-hour dishes after work, then go for a walk or do a few chores around the house. The best part is I don't have to be in the kitchen while it's cooking.
Most of the recipes in this book can comfortably be made in a 3½ to 5-quart slow cooker. When baking, I prefer to use a 6-quart because cakes and breads that are cooked directly in the crock cook more evenly when they are spread thinner, and they can also fit a loaf pan.
If you don't want to own multiple slow cookers, Hamilton Beach has a model called Right Size. It has one crock with a visible line inside to show you if you are filling it up to the 2, 4, or 6-quart line. So, you can cook all the recipes in it!
RULES YOU REALLY SHOULD FOLLOW
I'm not big on rules and tend to break most of them. However, the ones I talk about here really do have to be followed, and most of them are common sense.
I've cooked in dozens of different slow cookers, and I'm not afraid to use any of them. Experimenting with them has given me a depth of knowledge that can help you on your own slow cooker journey. One thing I can tell you for sure is each one cooks a little differently. You have to learn your slow cooker to ensure your recipes come out just the way you want them to.
Rule #1: Stay at Home the First Time You Use Your Slow Cooker
You need to check and make sure the slow cooker is functioning properly before using it without being in the house. As you would with any appliance that heats up, you'll also want to see whether your slow cooker runs on the hotter side, so you can adjust recipes with no mishaps.
Even brand-new appliances can have issues. Though it's rare, I firmly believe that it's better to be safe than sorry.
If you are getting a second-hand slow cooker from a friend or family member, or from my favorite — thrift stores — always make sure none of the cording is frayed. Also check that there are no teeny tiny cracks in the crock that would allow leaks into the metal cooking part.
Rule #2: Fill Your Slow Cooker to the Manufacturer's Recommended Amount
This is the rule I expect will get the most resistance. No one likes to read manuals. And honestly they seem to get less and less helpful. But, in this case, model needs to be to cook optimally.
You're probably asking yourself, shouldn't it all be the same? I'm here to tell you that it's not.
In general, your slow cooker should be half to three-fourths full to cook at its proper temperature. This can vary from model to model as well as make to make. Be sure to check your user guide to see what's recommended for your model.
You may find that thicker foods, such as stews and casseroles, burn if this rule is not followed, because the food will cook much hotter than it should. This often happens if you use a larger slow cooker than the recipe calls for, or if you aren't filling the slow cooker up enough. If you have a 6- to 7-quart (5.7 to 6.6 L) slow cooker, you can double many of the recipes to fill your slow cooker up enough. Note: We will use this to our advantage in some of the baking recipes, by not filling the slow cooker up to the recommended fill line.
One of the main complaints about newer slow cookers is that they burn everything. But just looking in your manual can help you manage your cooker better. Already threw the manual out or didn't get one when you inherited your slow cooker? Search online for your make and model. Most manufacturers have their manuals online, and you can easily download them.
Rule #3: Use Common Sense
Always make sure the area around the sides of the slow cooker is clear. I also put mine on a large trivet as extra protection for my countertop.
I leave my slow cooker on while I'm away at work or doing errands. In fact, it's made to leave on while you are away from the house.
Remember that the outside parts do get hot. You do not want it near anything that could melt or overheat: think bread wrappers, papers, and the like. I find it easy to just give my slow cooker a clear 6-inch (15 cm) radius all around it.
If you have young children, make sure the slow cooker is where little toddler hands can't grab the hot parts or pull on the cord. If you have pets, be sure to keep the cooker where your cat won't knock it off the counter.
Keep an eye on the plug and cord to make sure they're always in good shape. If you get any signals that the slow cooker may not be working properly, it's time to get a new one.
Rule #4: Check the Settings on Your Slow Cooker
Almost all slow cookers have a low and high setting, and many have a warming setting as well.
Some of the fancier slow cookers have programmable settings. Note that you can't program when the slow cooker starts, but you can program how long it will cook at your chosen setting (low or high). After the allotted time, the slow cooker will switch to warm to keep your food ready to eat until you get home.
One thing to be aware of is an auto setting that is found on some slow cookers. From one of my amazing recipe testers, I found out that, at least in Canada, there is an auto temperature instead of low on some slow cookers. This is not the timing mechanism that controls switching the setting to warm after the programmed time. It is on the dial in place of the low. This auto setting cooks the first 2 hours on high and then automatically switches the cooker to low. You need to treat this like a very hot slow cooker and reduce total times and add extra liquid in most dishes. The 2 hours on high are like 4 on low.
Rule #5: Know Your Slow Cooker — Older vs. Newer Slow Cookers
Older slow cookers cook at lower temperatures than newer models do. Due to food safety concerns over the past few years, slow cooker manufacturers have raised the cooking temperature of their appliances. The new low is almost as hot as the old high!
Please note: You may need to adjust the recipes to suit your slow cooker. If your slow cooker runs on the hotter side, you will have more evaporation. That means you will need to add extra liquid to make up for it. This is especially true of newer models; they tend to cook quicker and hotter than the older ones do. Once you've adjusted recipes to your cooker's needs a few times, it will become second nature.
An older model has the opposite issue. They cook at a lower temperature, so you may need less liquid and/or longer cooking times. Older slow cookers can take extra time to cook, and you may need to decrease the amount of liquids.
Once you cook a few dishes, you'll have a good idea what temperature your slow cooker cooks at. Until then, use caution and add more liquid rather than less. You can always cook something longer. If it burns, it's not always as easy to fix it.
Rule #6: Taste and Re-season Before Serving
Due to the long cooking times, you should always taste the dish before you serve it, re-seasoning as needed. This is especially important with stews and soups. Really, if you get in the habit of doing this, you'll find out it helps make dishes prepared using any cooking method taste better.
Add or readjust fresh herbs right before serving. For example, if you are using fresh ginger in a dish and you cook it all day, you may need to add a little more ginger about thirty minutes before serving.
Do not skip this step! It can be the difference between a meh meal and a great one.
WHAT SLOW COOKER SHOULD I BUY?
There's a lot to consider when buying a slow cooker, and there is no one answer that fits everyone. It depends on your family size, and how simple or complex you like your gadgets to be.
Read on and I'll tell you a little about the differences. Hint: your budget should help make your decision easy.
Question #1: What's Your Budget?
You can get slow cookers anywhere from $10 to more than $400! I know that seems impossible, but it's true. And I'm here to tell you that some fancy name brands don't do any extra for the money, except fit in with your super fancy kitchen. I'm not telling you that you can't spend the money if it's burning a hole in your pocket, but they all accomplish the same task.
If you're on a tight budget, first ask around to see if any of your friends or family have a slow cooker that they no longer use. Free is best on your budget, after all. The second place to look is thrift stores. I've seen brand-new models in pristine condition for under $10.
If you get a programmable slow cooker, it will be a little more expensive than one that just has high, low, and warm. If you have an unpredictable leave-time at work or a long drive, it is nice knowing that it will switch to warm after the cooking time is done. Some of these have a simmer function: It's like the old low setting. That's really nice to have, but it's not a deal breaker.
Get home about the same time every day? Then you can skip the programmable function and get the cheapest 4-quart on the shelf.
Want to cook in all the different sizes but you just don't have room to store them all? I'd recommend an all-in-one solution such as the Hamilton Beach Right Size or the Crock-Pot® Choose-A-Crock Programmable Slow Cooker. The Right Size has one crock with lines for 2-, 4-, or 6-quart cooking sizes. The Choose-A-Crock has three nesting crocks for storage, but you cook with only one of them at a time. It has a split 2.5-, 4-, and 6-quart crocks.
Question #2: What Size is Best for You and Your Family?
If you got a slow cooker as a wedding present, it seems like people think the bigger the better. But do you really want 7 or 8 quarts of chili? For me, the answer is no.
The ideal size really depends on how many people you cook for and how many leftovers you like to have. Most of the recipes in this book work great in a 4-quart (3.8 L) slow cooker, and they tend to serve four to six. Recipes that don't follow this pattern will have another size clearly note. You can easily double, or even triple, most of the recipes in this book to fit properly in a larger slow cooker.
An inexpensive 4-quart (3.8 L) with manual controls will work just as well as a more expensive model with a programmable timer. A 4-quart (3.8 L) size can work for two people with leftovers or make a single meal for a family of four or five. A 6- or 7-quart (5.7 or 6.6 L) will feed eight to twelve people, depending on the dish.
This may be the most important question you need to think of before you get a new slow cooker. If you have a small family or it's just you, a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker would keep you in chili or soup long after you've grown tired of it. One benefit of large slow cookers is that you can cook a few pounds of dry beans at a time to store in the freezer. It's really a question of your preferences.
Here are my rules of thumb:
1½- to 2½-quart slow cookers are great for couples or singles who don't want to eat the same thing every day.
4-quart or 5-quart will feed two with leftovers for lunch the next day or will feed four.
6-quart is good for a family of more than four.
Unless you have a huge family or cook meals ahead and freeze them, you would not need anything more than a 6-quart.
Note: a 1-quart slow cooker, sometimes know as a Little Dipper, is mainly for keeping dips warm and it is not good for cooking.
I like having a small slow cooker for making breakfast, and a large 6-quart for cooking pumpkins and giant batches of dry beans that I freeze in 1. cup portions (weight will vary). You'll find that you can adjust recipes to use in other size slow cookers, but keep to your manual's rule of how full the cooker needs to be to cook properly.
Question #3: Do You Need Programmable Settings?
I mentioned these under budget, but just in case you're skipping around I thought I'd address it here, too. If you have unpredictable work times, it might be worth the extra money to get a programmable slow cooker. It doesn't let you put off cooking until a certain time, but it does switch to warm after the time in the allotted time has elapsed. This can save your dinner if you come home a few hours later than planned.
Some of the 3-in-1s and fancier slow cookers are programmable, and the only real reason to say no would be if it's over your budget.
Question #4: Do You Want to Saute in It?
Every year, something new gets added to the slow cooker list that you have to decide if you want or not.
Most slow cooker brands have at least one model that has a metal crock. The are mostly made of nonstick materials. Check the manufacturer's website for more details. The great thing about a metal crock is that it can be used on your stovetop to saute things like onions, and then can be put back in the slow cooker to finish up your recipe. That means you are only dirtying up one pan.
Some models, such as the Ninja, actually have a saute setting so you can do it right in the slow cooker, too. Newer Ninjas have a bake setting, too.
Question #5: Are the Crock Materials Important to You?
Most of the ceramic crocks have a glaze. You can check on their websites or call customer service to verify what they use. Most of the websites will state that they do not use lead in their glazes.
Most of the pans that you can saute in are nonstick, and some people avoid that. There is a brand that is stainless, 360 Cookware Gourmet Slow Cooker and Stainless Steel Stock Pot with Cover. Just know the price is a premium one.
Another natural option is a VitaClay slow cooker. The crock is made with unglazed red clay. It has a double-lid design and uses something called micro pressure cooking, which results in 60 percent more cooking efficiency. That's the good. The bad is that it cooks much faster than normal slow cookers. You will have to read the manual carefully and adjust all of your slow cooker times in recipes you use that aren't from VitaClay — including the ones in this book.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Vegan Slow Cooker"
Copyright © 2018 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc..
Excerpted by permission of The Quarto Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction Slow Cooker Love 10
Chapter 1 Vegan Slow Cooker Basics 12
Chapter 2 No-Time-to-Prep Recipes 23
Chapter 3 Soups 41
Chapter 4 Stews 67
Chapter 5 Casseroles & Loaves 85
Chapter 6 Pasta & Grains 98
Chapter 7 Mains 111
Chapter 8 Sides 128
Chapter 9 Sandwich & Taco Fillings 150
Chapter 10 Breads 166
Chapter 11 Snacks & Appetizers 179
Chapter 12 Breakfasts 190
Chapter 13 Desserts 212
Chapter 14 Staples 229
About The Author 251