Book Review: Year-Round Slow Cooker by Dina Cheney

January 14, 2015 Blog, Book Reviews, Fall, Seasonal Cooking, Spring, Summer, Winter 0

Book Review: Year-Round Slow Cooker by Dina CheneyYear-round Slow Cooker by Dina Cheney
Published by Taunton Press, Incorporated on 2013
Genres: Cooking, Holiday, Methods, Seasonal, Slow Cooking
Pages: 222
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Slow cookers are popular for good reason: They’re the ultimate kitchen problem solvers. If you’re watching your budget, they’re well worth the $30 they cost since they can turn the cheapest cuts of meat into unctuous, mouth-watering results worthy of a five-star restaurant. Slow cookers also do the hard work, cooking for hours while you’re out of the house only to come home to a meal just about ready to eat. And since slow cookers keep food warm, they allow different family members to eat at different times: a practical option in a world of staggered schedules.

Yet, slow cookers have an image problem. Most home cooks use them for cold weather meals only, while others think slow cookers can only produce food that’s mushy, bland, and watery or rely solely on shortcut ingredients like spice packets, bouillon cubes, and bottled sauces.

No longer does this must-have kitchen tool deserve to be stored away when spring months hit. In Year-Round Slow Cooker, home cooks will find 100 delicious, modern, practical slow cooker recipes featuring seasonal produce. Recipes speak to the home cook whose palate is more sophisticated and who wants to incorporate seasonal produce into all of her meals.

Organized by season, Year-Round Slow Cooker features notes about the featured seasonal ingredients as well as invaluable tips throughout to help cooks maximize the power of the slow cooker.

My Thoughts

Slow cooker

It took me a while to get into the slow cooker idea. So now, at almost 40 years old I have no recipes for my slow cooker. Honestly, I didn’t even use it until last year when my hubby basically showed me step by step just how quick and easy they can be. Finding cookbooks like this help with my lack of knowledge AND help me to feel like I’m making a great meal without slaving over a hot stove!

Season to Season

My first thoughts about this are how much I love the separation by seasons, and how fabulous I think it is that Dina Cheney uses the ingredients that are most abundant IN those seasons! She even has a little part that says exactly what is in season at the beginning of every season’s chapter. This not only gave me an immediate idea of what I wanted to pick up at the store, but also allowed me to realize the things that I would not want to get. For instance, in winter pomegranates are abundant but so are collard greens. I love pomegranates but will pass on the collard green recipes. Easy!

Seasonal ingredients

Surprisingly, even the recipes with the ingredients that I wasn’t in love with, sounded interesting. She also adds in tid bits about the ingredients that many people may not know about. Pomegranates for instance, have a little part about how to get the yummy arils out. Something my daughter and I have learned through trial and error. I suggest using her tips!

The meals also were not too outrageous to be expensive but were far enough out there that we hadn’t tried MANY recipes. I cannot wait to try so many of the recipes. I am normally the one who makes the grocery list for the week but the hubby even added his two cents in and picked a few meals. Japanese-style Chicken Soup with Udon Noodles and Lime is going to be our next try! Doesn’t that sound delicious?!!

Give me pics please

Something else that I like about cookbooks in general is when I get a good idea of how a dish is supposed to look based on the pictures. My meals may not come out looking quite as nice but I really like cookbooks with pictures in them. I rarely try meals without pictures (for some odd reason) and was happily surprised to see that Dina’s cookbook has many, many pictures!

I have yet to venture into the other seasons since some of the ingredients are going to be harder to find in winter but I’m really excited about this book and plan to continue using it!

In short: Have a problem finding out of the box meals for your grocery list? Have picky eaters that only want spaghetti? (YUM) Try this book! There are enough diverse recipes that it’ll give you some great ideas!



The Author

I’m the author of Tasting Club (DK, 2006), Williams-Sonoma; New Flavors for Salads (Oxmoor House, 2009), Year-Round Slow Cooker; 100 Favorite Recipes for Every Season (The Taunton Press, 2013), Meatless All Day; Recipes for Inspired Vegetarian Meals (The Taunton Press, 2014), the forthcoming Mug Meals (The Taunton Press, Spring 2015), and the forthcoming The New Milks (Atria/Simon & Schuster, Spring 2016).

For nearly three years, I’ve been the “Taste Test” columnist for Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine. I also develop recipes regularly for Clean Eating Magazine and have written articles or developed recipes for Parents, Fine Cooking, Coastal Living, Specialty Food, Cooking Light, The Huffington Post, and more. In addition, I’ve judged the sofi™ Awards (given out by the Specialty Food Association).

My passion for food is also expressed through my art work and lectures: I paint still lifes of fruit, vegetables, and flowers, and have conducted over 45 tastings and talks nationwide. Previously, I taught over 100 cooking classes through my culinary instruction business, Cooking by Heart.

About 200 media outlets have covered my work. Just a few include Redbook, Real Simple, Every Day with Rachael Ray, The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Post, “Fox” News in Boston and New York, NBC News, NPR, and Wisconsin Public Radio.

Before embarking on my career in writing and teaching, I graduated from Columbia College, Columbia University (Anthropology/English Literature) and the Institute of Culinary Education Career program. I studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and The Yellow Barn Studio and Gallery.

I live in Connecticut with my husband, two young sons, and lots of chocolates, teas, and spices.

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