This is a long overdue review for my latest kitchen appliance, an Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker. If you follow my Instagram stories you will know that the past couple of months have been quite hectic as we have had a full kitchen refurbishment. We packed our kitchen contents in the conservatory and living room and most of our meals have been cooked on a camping table.
When we renovated our first kitchen, we lived on microwaved prepared meals for a while and I remember feeling constantly bloated and unwell. This time I was determined that we would eat simple home cooked meals. Andrew James was kind enough to send me one of their Digital Slow Cookers to help out. What a difference it has made! So much so that I cannot comprehend why I waited so long to get one.
Growing up, my mum’s slow cooker was on overtime in the kitchen. In spite of working full time (sometimes even shift work), my mum would make a point of cooking all our meals from scratch. Both cooking and slow cooking became second nature so she could keep on juggling home, kids and work.
Despite having enjoyed so many crockpot recipes as a child, I was a bit unsure of what and how to cook with the Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker. My preconceived idea was that a slow cooker is mostly useful for meat dishes. Would it be suitable for us, especially as most of what I cook at home these days is either vegetarian or vegan dishes?
I put the Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker to the test with some basic recipes first including a chicken tagine and a soup. I was really impressed by how easy it was, how flavoursome the food was and also how much active cooking time I was saving.
How It Works
The Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker is very simply designed. It has a removable oval ceramic cooking pot which sits in a metallic electric heating element. The ceramic dish can easily be moved so you can either prepare food or serve food directly from it.
The Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker has 2 heat settings Low / High which you can cook with. The High setting enables you to speed up cooking time to 4-6 hours while the Low setting takes 6-8 hours.
It could not be much more straightforward. Once you have prepared the food and placed it in the ceramic pot, you simply choose the heat setting and cooking time and let everything simmer while you are away.
Compared to a manual model, the Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker is fitted with a LED display and digital controls. The digital timer has a 12 hour delay so you can time your food to be ready when you need it. If you are delayed, then the ‘Keep Warm’ function ensures that the food retains heat after cooking.
With two size options, 4.5 litre (4 people) and 6.5 litre (6-8 people), the Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker is perfect whether for cooking a family meal, a feast for entertaining or batch cooking in advance for freezing.
Simple Tips When Using A Slow Cooker
To get the most out of your slow cooker, it is essential to remember that:
- If you are cooking meat, then make sure you brown it first as that will add flavour.
- As fat melts when cooked for a long time, make sure you remove skin from poultry and trim fatty bits from meat.
- Chunky vegetables will retain their shape better than smaller cut ones.
- Slow cooking retains more moisture so you need to use less liquid (about 1/3 less).
- Add dairy and soft vegetables during the last 30-45 minutes of cooking.
- Diluting some cornflour or flour in the liquid will help thicken the sauce.
- If you are using frozen ingredients, make sure all food is defrosted before adding it to the slow cooker.
- Don’t overfill your slow cooker, aim for 1/2 to 3/4 full.
Save Time and Money
Finding a hot home cooked meal ready when you get home is only one of the perks of a slow cooker. You can save a lot of time and effort by batch cooking and freezing ahead.
If you are short of time it is very easy to fall for convenience food. Unfortunately most of store-bought prepared meals are laden with salt, fat, sugar, preservatives which are not very healthy. Homemade food is best for the health of you and your family. Additionally ready meals tend to be more expensive than cooking from scratch.
In addition to saving you time, a slow cooker can also help you save money. Slow cookers use much less energy than ovens so you can save on your energy bills. If you cook meat, you can buy cheaper cuts of meat which your slow cooker will render very tender. Vegetarians and vegans can also save money by using dried beans, lentils and pulses instead of more expensive canned goods.
What Can You Cook?
Slow cooking is a great method that enables flavours to develop. Meat dishes are particularly popular as meat gets really tender when cooked at low temperatures over a long period of time. But as I found slow cooking is definitely a great way to prepare vegetarian and vegan food too. Here are some of the recipes you can try in a slow cooker.
- Lasagna and pasta dishes
- Rice dishes
- Apple Butter
I created this recipe for a hearty Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna, filled with lentils and vegetables. Easy and straightforward, it is bursting with wonderful flavours and makes a delicious meal to enjoy with friends and family.
The Andrew James Digital Slow Cooker has become an essential kitchen appliance for us. I have been experimenting quite a bit lately so stay tuned for some more slow cooker recipes in the near future.
You can find it on the Andrew James website where it is currently on sale.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Andrew James for sending me a free Digital Slow Cooker. All thoughts and opinions are my own.