We’re doing something different
What’s different? First, we give you sensible recipes in a simple, clean format. The Smart Slow Cooker is an easy-to-use resource for the most requested slow cooker recipes and questions. In an increasingly cluttered world, we aim to be a place of calm.
When its time to get family dinner on the table, nobody needs to know how to make yogurt, moonshine, or brownies in the slow cooker.
What does that mean for you? Well for example, you’ll only find one recipe for Sloppy Joes over on our blog. Why? Because most people don’t actually want a “creamy” version or a “cheeseburger” interpretation. We give you simple, classic recipes that you will want to make over and over again.
What else is different? We aren’t here to gush about slow cookers or to convince you that you need one — chances are, you don’t. But sometimes life calls for a slow cooker, and when it does, recipes should be easy and good.
To successfully use a slow cooker, you do not need 1000’s of recipes — you just need your family’s favorites. And no, you will not use a crockpot 365 days a year — that would be very dull and boring.
The Smart Slow Cooker was born out of a need at a specific point in time. My family faced a dinner time challenge when an after-school activity kept us away from home twice a week until 8:30pm. For my crew, not eating at a “normal dinner time” was new and 8:30pm was bedtime.
We considered our dinner options. The kids wanted to eat at home versus eat out because they were exhausted by the end of the day. Cooking at home is cheaper and healthier — and it was our usual — so this was fine by me.
Cooking ahead and reheating food wasn’t a great fit because my group wasn’t keen on leftovers. And time spent reheating food would only delay bedtime.
A friend suggested a pressure cooker for quick cooking, but this also would have taken too much time when we got home. We needed instant dinner! The only solution I could see for how to cook more on these particular nights was a crock pot.
So I purchased a slow cooker. But it felt so wrong! Why? Clearly this large, clunky kitchen appliance was strictly for non-cooks and people who didn’t care about real food, right?
Food as a Family tradition
Good food has always been a part of my world. While I love a great food truck or a trendy restaurant as much as anyone else, my fondest food memories are from the family dinner table. Good food means home cooking, traditional recipes, and healthy ingredients.
Growing up in the 1970’s (i.e. before Food Network), my mom was the best cook I knew and Gourmet magazine was her bible. My dad was and is an expert griller and pit master. Both of them learned these skills from each of their fathers. My sister and I baked for fun as kids, and she went on to culinary school after college.
In my 20’s, I learned how my food was produced and the impact it had on the environment and my health. I was fortunate enough that shopping for sustainable and organic foods could become my norm.
As a new mom, I made organic baby food and kept a detailed spreadsheet on our fridge of when to introduce new textures and foods to my babies. One of my oldest child’s first words was “onions-ssss” as he mimicked the sound of sautéing. My toddlers devoured kale, fought over asparagus, and thought blue cheese was heaven on a plate. My kids played Iron Chef for entertainment and the youngest begged for a hand-crank pasta machine at ten years old. We all like real food.
My mother managed to gather us for family dinner for what seemed like 7 nights a week for 18 years (never owning a slow cooker), so bringing my group together for family meals — or at least aspiring to — means I’m passing along a family tradition.
Right now my main dinner issue is trying to get teenagers to family dinner. Mostly, I never seem to know who is coming or going or when. And regular family dinners seem like a quaint idea from our not-so-distant past. But there is something about making what my kids affectionately call a “hot pot” (i.e. a slow cooker dinner) that feels like a connection to a simpler time.
The Slow Cooker Challenge
After purchasing a slow cooker, I quickly became frustrated. Most longer-cooking recipes were stews and shredded meat that all seemed to taste the same. But we were more accustomed to grilling and roasting, fresh vegetables, and big bowls of pasta — foods that were quick and flavorful.
It was surprisingly difficult to find a variety of recipes that met our specific need: dinners that cooked for 6-8 hours, and resulted in great flavor, and were ready to serve when we walked in the door (without additional steps or prep).
I was determined to make meals with real flavor and texture. And after trying a recipe for Slow Cooker White Beans & Sausage, I knew it was possible. So I scoured the internet, poured over cookbooks, and adapted family favorites to collect a variety of recipes that are suited to longer cooking times.
Doing things different
Again, what I assumed would be an easy task proved to be unusually difficult.
Most food blogging sites are a mess with annoying ads and repetitive recipes. Who has the time to sort through 18 versions of pulled pork or 23 takes on chili?
Sites that offer better user experiences, like America’s Test Kitchen, are only available as an on-going subscription.
And cookbooks are loaded down with filler recipes — things like “how to make yogurt in the slow cooker”. We needed dinner.
So, after collecting an outstanding assortment of longer-cooking recipes — see an example — we’re doing something different.
You can find quality resources and shorter cooking recipes over on our blog. Then we offer the best-of-the-best, longer-cooking dinner recipes in our online cookbook. No ads. No filler. No fluff. No subscription. Just simple access for a one-time fee. Bon appétit!