Thinking outside the box: Part 2

Today we will consider two more kitchen appliances that have been around for a long time. Slow cookers or crock pots have been in our kitchens since the early 1970s. Around the same time, microwave ovens began to be sold commercially. This appliance, too, can be an enormous help when you are preparing so many different foods.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about using the Crock Pot is starting stew in it before I leave for work so we can eat pretty quickly after a long day at AnswerLine. Few people serve stew for Thanksgiving but there are still a number of ways to use the Slow Cooker that day.

Crock Pot with turkey
Turkey cooked in Slow Cooker

If you plan on a soup course for dinner, of course the slow cooker will be a great place to cook it. You can prep the ingredients the night before and start the cooker early in the morning. By dinner time, the soup will be ready.

No space in the oven for the traditional green bean casserole? Consider using the slow cooker for the green beans. This recipe will be ready to eat in three hours; get it started when you are getting the turkey in the oven.

We also have this information in our files for making dressing in a slow cooker:  

  • Never mix wet and dry ingredients until you are ready to cook the dressing.
  • Precook vegetables, such as onions or celery. 
  • Always use pasteurized eggs or Egg Beater type products for eggs.
  • Fill the cooker with the correct amount of food – never less than 1/2 or more than 2/3 full.
  • Stir once or twice during the cook time, if desired or the dressing may get crusty on the side.
  • Cook the dressing or stuffing on high for 45 to 60 minutes and then reduce heat to low and cook 4-8 hours.
  • Check the final temperature with an accurate food thermometer. The end temperature should be 165 degrees.

You can also use the Slow Cooker to hold a dish at a safe temperature for serving. If you won’t have enough room on the stove top to make mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes while the rest of the meal is cooking, make the potatoes ahead of time and use the Slow Cooker to keep it warm. Simply preheat the Slow Cooker by turning it on high after you have filled it with water. When you get the potatoes ready, dump out the water and fill with potatoes. At that point, you can turn the cooker to the low or keep warm setting.

The microwave can be used to cook most any part of the Thanksgiving meal. We often use it to heat up the green bean casserole and then when it is hot, we add the onion rings and put it in the oven to brown after the Turkey has been removed.

Reheating foods that were prepared in advance is another great use of the microwave. You can quickly reheat dishes that others brought to share, or those that you prepared the day before. The speed and convenience of the microwave will stretch your cooking space considerably

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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