One of the best things about an international move is getting to buy new things and one of the worst things about an international move is having to buy new things. After I moved to and from the UK I had to replace all my small appliances. I must admit I grow attached to them, like inanimate pets. I still miss my electric kettle, my 3-in-1 microwave and my immersion blender with the extra large chopper base. There is just something about getting to know a thing and being able to rely on how it will perform. Then again I like shiny, I like blue and sometimes I like what I like with no rational explanation other then I like it and I want it, regardless of how it performs. I admit that sometimes the choice of shiny over functionality can come back to bite me in the ass, but it’s rare. When it comes to small appliances I’m a pretty good judge of character… even if by accident.
About 12 years ago I purchased a slow cooker for £10 (about $16). It was nothing fancy, it had a white 8-quart crock that lifted out, a glass lid with a plastic handle, a thin metal casing with a plastic knob to turn it to its 4 settings of high, low, warm and off. Nothing digital, no timer, just the basics. Actually, looking back I don’t think the setting knob and the lid handle even matched. It was definitely no beauty but it was certainly cheap and at the time I reserved my small appliance budget for things that would look nice out on the kitchen counters and be used often. I wasn’t a big slow cooker user 12 yeas ago, I had used one but only to keep food warm that I placed in there after it was already cooked. Certainly £10 was more then enough to spend on something to keep chili warm at the next pot luck I attended.
That inexpensive slow cooker sat unused in its box for about a year, then my schedule got really hectic. I was going to school 50 miles away, commuting on a train both ways. This made for 14 hour days and slapped together evening meals that were often microwaved leftovers from the weekend or prepackaged convenience foods. One weekday morning I realized I had defrosted a giant pork roast for the weekend and never cooked it so rather then let it go bad I read the basic instructions for the brand spanking new year old slow cooker, stuffed the giant pork roast in there with salt, pepper and some water and left it on low for the full 14 hours while I was away. I have to say, that was one awesome pork roast. I remember standing over it with a fork, burning my tongue and the roof of my mouth and not slowing down until I had eaten nearly a quarter of it. And I was a slow cooker convert ever after. On the weekend I would prepare several things for the week that could be dumped in the slow cooker and that was how we ate for the next 6 months.
I used the hell out of the slow cooker over the 7 years that followed. From soups and stews to roasts and ribs… at one point I was even making cakes and breads in it! Then my slow cooker just sort of died. It smelled bad when it was heating up and I started to find that more often then not the food was no longer cooking properly. Believing that somehow this particular slow cooker was magical I didn’t want to give it up and I did everything that I could to keep it alive but in the end I had to let it go. It had performed above and beyond it’s £10 price and after it was gone I went slow cooker-less for several months. Then I found my old slow cooker’s evil twin.
Ok it wasn’t evil, and it wasn’t even a twin. It was in fact much the same (not exactly the same) as my old cheap slow cooker but with a black 8-quart crock. This new one cost £20 and though I had the money to buy something nicer with a few bells and whistles, I chose not to.
I can’t imagine any model doing enough of a better job to justify the ridiculous prices I saw. I used the new slow cooker for a few years and had to leave it behind when I moved back over to the US. Now I’m scouting slow cookers again, I have my eye on one in particular… it’s not the cheapest and it does actually have a few “niceties” but no matter what slow cooker I end up with this time around I’ll always fondly remember that first one I had in the UK.
Slow cooker or crock pot? They are exactly the same sort of thing except Crock-pot is a registered trademark name.