As the season starts to shift to cooler temperatures and the leaves become tinged with color, we start thinking about the hot comfort foods that warm our hearts and feed our souls. Crockpot cooking is an ideal way to create these comfort foods while managing the extreme busyness of our households. There’s something triumphant in coming home to the aroma of food that is ready-made. It’s a relief to know that the only preparation you will be focusing on that evening is your child’s spelling test for the next day.

Recently, when my husband went to a local bookstore and returned with a slow cooker recipe book, I was kind of put off. Then, the more I looked at it, rather reluctantly so, I realized he actually understood why I sometimes find it difficult to get my slow cooker in order. It’s easier said than done to have all the necessary ingredients on hand and get them successfully cooking before you exit the door in the morning. This book is different. It is by America’s Test Kitchen and is titled “The Slow Cooker Revolution, Volume 2: The Easy Prep Edition”. It actually has easy prep in the title so I knew he was on to something. I immediately set to work browsing the pages until I thought I uncovered a sure-fire winner.

My youngest son is a huge fan of clam chowder soup. He had recently been under the weather so I eagerly decided to use this book’s clam chowder recipe. It was simple and had great tips on how to make it savory without being time consuming. It turned out really good. I enjoyed it and my husband liked it, too. My boys on the other hand, were shall we say ‘less enthused’. The problem was that while it was good (in my humble opinion), it was DIFFERENT from what we get at a restaurant. As you know, different is the kiss of death when giving kids new foods to eat.

I ended up getting so frustrated with my youngest son’s feedback about the soup, I excused myself early from the table and left my husband to clean up. The moral of the story is I will not give up on my slow cooker dream and I will not be a short-order cook to my kids. My kids know that sometimes the food they get isn’t ideal to them, but you have to eat what’s in front of you and be thankful for it. My youngest did eventually eat his soup but I’m not super motivated to make it again.

Regardless, I still really like my new slow cooker book and recommend that you check it out.  To even have one or two go to recipes on hand for those insanely busy days is worth it.  Honestly, if you came to my house and threw in a bunch of unrelated stuff into my slow cooker, as long as it was edible, hot and I didn’t have to cook it, it would mostly like be my favorite recipe ever.

At the end of the day, some recipes have been a family success and some have not. All any of us can do is cook, cook and cook again.

By Diana DeVaul, MSW and Parent

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