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How to buy and use a crockpot
How I did it: Right before or after Christmas is one of the best times to buy one as they are often on sale that time of year. Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon.com all have a good selection. Still, if you want one right now, you can probably get a small one (3 qt) for about $20 and a large one (6 qt+) for about $30.
Lessons & tips:
- Buy one where the stoneware part (the crock) is fully removable and dishwasher safe. That will help with clean up.
- Crockpot liners are wonderful - but make sure you use the liners - they are made of special heat resistant plastic (the same stuff that turkey roasting bags are made of) - other plastics will melt and be toxic
- You can make a double batch of some recipes and freeze them in ziplock bags. Thaw overnight in fridge and dump the contents into the crock pot. If your food is cold like that (or even semi-frozen), allow several hours extra cooking time.
- You might want both a small one and a large one - the small one to use when you are cooking for just one or two and don't want a bunch of leftovers, and a large one for cooking for a crowd (or for having veggie soup all weekend long)
- Don't use one that you use for crafting (soap/candle making) for food making - the smells and stuff are supposed to come out completely, but they often don't - and the fragrances may be toxic.
- If your recipe comes out a little to watery, you can 1) remove the lid and let the excess water evaporate (keep an eye on it so it doesn't get too dry), 2) if it is tomato based, make a small cornstarch mixture using some of the liquid from the pot and stir it in, 3) if it is "brown gravy" based, make a small flour mixture with some of the liquid. For the mixtures, stir it in to the crockpot and let cook a few minutes to thicken
- Don't waste money on a crockpot cookbook - the crockpot will come with a few "starter" recipes and then the internet is full of tested and reviewed recipes
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