An Old-Fashioned Slow Cooker Is the Perfect Kitchen Appliance
You don’t need a fancy display or Wi-Fi capability to cook the most delicious beans without much effort
LED display. Wi-Fi connection. Alexa-enabled. Are we really talking about slow cookers? In a techno-appliance world gone mad, I am clinging tightly to my circa 1970s, no-fi appliance. It offers one knob, three options:
I spend my work days staring at a large screen, and much of my free time consulting a tiny, glowing display. For the same reason I like to read books printed on paper rather than via an e-reader, there’s something comforting about an appliance that doesn’t have a keyboard’s worth of buttons. And it absolutely cannot and will not connect to the internet.
My slow cooker doesn’t need to be “smart” to work well.
Yes, it does have some eccentric/cautionary details. The outside gets extremely hot. The first time I used it in my apartment I was compelled to put a nearby note of warning for my roommate. Like most New York City kitchens, it’s spatially challenged. You quickly learn a certain tight-quarters dance to avoid bumping into things either sharp or hot.
Also, the plastic handles have seen better days. I have to grab direct hold (buffered by oven mitts) of the inner crock and lift it out when it’s time to move its cauldron of contents.
Even with these caveats, my slow cooker makes dreamy beans. Most Sundays I load up the crock with black-eyed peas, crushed tomatoes, green pepper, onions, whole garlic cloves, and generous shakes of any/every spice I have on hand. It’s not a recipe, more of an “everybody in the pool” style of cooking. Which a slow cooker excels at.
I know I’m missing out on the breakneck speed that the darling of the countertop appliance world, the instant pot, provides. Beans from dried to tender in what, barely over 30 minutes? I don’t think speed kills in this instance, but I am reminded of the old infomercial where the famous “Set it and forget it” sentence was born. If your beans are going to be ready in about a half-hour, what are you going to do in the meantime?
I can turn my slow cooker to high late-morning or early afternoon, then go for a run, stop for a coffee, catch up with a friend (in another borough!), take care of an errand, and come home around four hours later to perfection. Strange as it may sound, my slow cooker motivates me to have a productive burst of weekend time. It is my life coach that rewards my accomplishments with soupy, spicy beans enjoyed with a slab of crusty bread. (Yes, I popped by the bakery on the way home.)
Afterwards, I put my slow cooker away and reach for a book. Now we’re both unplugged.