Quick primer and reading list for slow cookers

By MOLLY GORDY For AP Weekly Features Published:

When you are using your slow cooker:

Dont peek. For best results keep the lid closed. Because of the low heat it takes time for the heat to build back up. Extend cooking time 15 minutes for every time the lid is lifted.

No stirring is required.

The stoneware should be two-thirds full for best cooking results.

Any recipe can be cooked on either high or low; cooking time will vary.

The best size for one or two people is a 3- to 4-quart slow cooker; for three or four people is a 31/2- to 4-quart slow cooker, and for five to seven people its a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.

Try to use fresh herbs and spices. They take longer to release their flavor than dried herbs and spices, and are better equipped to withstand extended cooking times.

Didnt plan ahead? No problem: You can cook frozen meats by adding an extra cup of warm liquid to the stoneware before adding meat.

Save the leftovers! Slow-cooked food gets better with time.

Book list

Not Your Mothers Slow Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann (Harvard Common Press, 2005, $16.95).

The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Simple and Sophisticated Meals from Around the World, by Lynn Alley (Ten Speed Press, 2003, $18.95).

Slow Cooker Recipe Book: Over 60 Mouthwatering Meals Cooked with Minimum Effort but Maximum Flavor, by Catherine Atkinson (Southwater, 2005, $15.99).

The Healthy Slow Cooker: More than 100 Recipes for Health and Wellness, by Judith Finlayson (Robert Rose, 2006, $22.95).

Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are, by Robin Robertson (Harvard Common Press, 2004, $14.95).

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