slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

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slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby John F » Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:48 pm

As you recall - or probably not! - I am returning to the US after 8 years abroad. Kitchen reno is finished and now arming it. Definitely want a rice cooker from my Japan days and also interested in slow cooker/crock pot/pressure cooker - and if anyone can explain the difference I will be eternally grateful.

Thanks in advance for your help!

J
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:29 am

Slow cooker and crock pot are the same thing (earthenware container that fits into electric container, cooks at low temps, with a tight seal so moisture diesn't escape).
A pressure cooker is the other extreme, it cooks things that normally take a long time in much shorter period.
I find both useful.
If I have time in AM, but a busy afternoon evening, I can do variations on coq au vin, boeuf bourg, pot au feau, etc in a half hour in AM in slow cooker, and it'll be ready at 6-7 PM. . Or a variety of stews or braised dishes.
A pressure cooker cooks very fast- is great for dal, beans, etc. It can also do lots of dishes that typically take hours in less than an hour. Betsy loves that it steasm artichokes in half time of traditional.
Rice cooker is a neccesity to me.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby John F » Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:56 am

Dale Williams wrote:Slow cooker and crock pot are the same thing (earthenware container that fits into electric container, cooks at low temps, with a tight seal so moisture diesn't escape).
A pressure cooker is the other extreme, it cooks things that normally take a long time in much shorter period.
I find both useful.
If I have time in AM, but a busy afternoon evening, I can do variations on coq au vin, boeuf bourg, pot au feau, etc in a half hour in AM in slow cooker, and it'll be ready at 6-7 PM. . Or a variety of stews or braised dishes.
A pressure cooker cooks very fast- is great for dal, beans, etc. It can also do lots of dishes that typically take hours in less than an hour. Betsy loves that it steasm artichokes in half time of traditional.
Rice cooker is a neccesity to me.



thanks Dale - any brands in partiuclar or just fire away??
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:13 am

Personally, I'd rather splurge on my regular pots and pans and cutlery, basics work well for m. Very happy with inexpensive Fagor pressure cooker (stovetop, not electric) and mass brand slow cooker.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Howie Hart » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:08 am

A good alternative to a slow cooker/crock pot is a roaster-oven. They are much larger for when you are feeding a larger group and are an inexpensive way to do sous vide.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Carl Eppig » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:25 pm

We have a new and an old Hamilton Beach crock pots. The old is real old, about 20 years, but works just fine. We use it around the house as it is pretty beat up. We use the new one for totting. We can go even long distance by using an AC adaptor and the outlet in the back of our vehicle. Highly recommend this brand. For rice with use a covered stainless steel sauce pan, and it works just fine.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Fred Sipe » Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:29 pm

Interesting combo unit. Slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker:

http://www.amazon.com/Fagor-670040230-S ... ords=fagor
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Jenise » Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:34 pm

John, Kuhn Rikon is the top name in Pressure Cookers. I have one and love it, but have also heard great things about the Fagor that Dale has.

I'm enamored of its ability to do long cooked meats so fast. Veal shanks, for instance, are not only superb cooked this way but better cooked this way than conventionally. They hold together better, and without being tied. And the flavor is as developed as it is in slow cooking--this isn't like a microwave or convection oven where you exchange flavor and texture for speed.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Salil » Sun Mar 10, 2013 4:14 pm

Pressure cookers are amazing. You don't need a particularly fancy one either - but they're fantastic for cooking things quickly that otherwise would take long periods of time to braise/slow cook, and they're AMAZING for lentils, pulses, etc.

Very easy to fully cook things like dried black chick peas (kala chana), raw/dried kidney beans or just about any lentil in very little time. Actually making some channa masala in mine right now. :)

Rice cookers - don't have a stovetop/countertop one, I rely on a microwave model that I bought in Singapore some time ago and still holds up very well. Very easy to use - just put in the rice, corresponding amount of water, close it up and put it in the microwave for a certain amount of time, and it cooks rice as well as any other cooker I've seen. Love it as it's pretty compact, and I don't use up any counter space or a burner on the stove for it.

Crock pots/slow cookers - don't really use one, for slow cooking I'll just put things in my cast iron dutch oven and braise away or cook over low heat.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:25 pm

Slow cookers are OK if you have a need for them. Busy family, little time to cook....dump ingredients into it, and let it go all day. When you come home dinner is done. Great for making large amounts of hot oatmeal, cooking applesauce, soups. I have a Zojirushi rice cooker, with the fuzzy logic. Not all that sure it is a necessary item to cook rice, and so far, I think I make better rice in a sauce pan. I still have not mastered it, however. There are multi use gadgets on the market, that not only slow cook, they brown, saute, and bake, as well. I am facinated with them but don't know anyone who has one. There are several out on the market, so if you are interested with multi uses, check them all out.

I've never had a need for pressure cookers, so cannont comment except that those who have them, love them.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Dale Williams » Sun Mar 10, 2013 11:41 pm

To expand on my earlier comments:

Slow cooker: Ours is the actual Crockpot brand (Oster? GE?). It has 2 temps (low and high), a warm setting, and is programmable. We pretty much only use the low setting for cooking, except I might do a gumbo or jambalaya on low, let it switch to warm, and then I turn to high when I come home, throw is shrimp or other seafood for a few minutes. But the programmable setting is great, if you need to leave house early, but don't want 11 hours of cooking that even on low leaves mush. I should note that better slow cooker recipes don't just toss all ingredients together, you might need to brown meats or sweat mirepoix before putting in.
I can't think of any dish I couldn't do at least as well in a dutch oven, but most days I am not home all day.

Pressure Cooker: I have a (6 qt I believe) Fagor. I wouldn't buy a flimsy pc, but I think the truly crappy old style ones are a thing of the past. I think once you get past truly poor construction, the biggest difference is whether they will cook at different pressures. Mine only cooks at high pressure, but that fits my needs. As noted, some dishes in pc are better than ANY conventional equivalent, I'm thinking especially of a couple of bean and lamb dishes.

Rice Cooker: again, we have the inexpensive model (Target $18 ). I think B&D, Not sure what pricey Dojirushi does better. Cooks rice perfectly. Somehow with shortgrain haija it sometimes has a slight crust on bottom (never with longer grains), but I LIKE that
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Jenise » Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:18 pm

Dale Williams wrote:
Rice Cooker: again, we have the inexpensive model (Target $18 ). I think B&D, Not sure what pricey Dojirushi does better. Cooks rice perfectly. Somehow with shortgrain haija it sometimes has a slight crust on bottom (never with longer grains), but I LIKE that


I bought a small Dijorushi to get by with while our downstairs remodel was under construction, and the pan rusted within about a year. There might be a difference between models, but I wouldn't buy what I had again.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Frank Deis » Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:22 pm

We have a crock-pot which I think was a wedding present (1970). Ceramic non-removable insert, low or high, no programming, you turn the knob to "high" or "low" and go off to work. I have a diet cookbook that I really like, rather ambitious recipes for that kind of book, and a lot of them call for slow cooking. But some of them ask for more capacity than I have, I don't know how many quarts mine is, three or four, and it's a little round cylinder with a glass top.

So I have been looking for an upgrade but the options these days are really confusing -- some of them will pre-brown the meat right in the pot. And as has been mention some may claim to be rice steamers or pressure cookers as well. I nearly ordered a 7 qt slow cooker but then decided the SPACE was just too much. So I'm stuck with my old one and I'm reading this topic for tips.

I do have a rice cooker and would not be able to make perfect Japanese ("sushi") rice without it (by which I mean Koshihikari rice). I don't really know how to make any other kind of rice in it, but basmati rice is so easy in a pan on the stovetop, and Arborio needs a lot of special treatment...
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Jeff Grossman/NYC » Mon Mar 11, 2013 9:36 pm

Frank Deis wrote:I don't know how many quarts mine is, three or four....

A few minutes with a measuring cup and some water can solve this problem, you know.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Mon Mar 11, 2013 10:34 pm

We have an ancient Hitachi "Chime-o-matic" rice cooker that my wife had owned for quite some time before we got together, fifteen years ago. It's about as basic as they get.

We don't own a slow cooker.

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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Fred Sipe » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:20 pm

Frank Deis wrote:We have a crock-pot which I think was a wedding present (1970). Ceramic non-removable insert, low or high, no programming, you turn the knob to "high" or "low" and go off to work. I have a diet cookbook that I really like, rather ambitious recipes for that kind of book, and a lot of them call for slow cooking. But some of them ask for more capacity than I have, I don't know how many quarts mine is, three or four, and it's a little round cylinder with a glass top.

So I have been looking for an upgrade but the options these days are really confusing -- some of them will pre-brown the meat right in the pot. And as has been mention some may claim to be rice steamers or pressure cookers as well. I nearly ordered a 7 qt slow cooker but then decided the SPACE was just too much. So I'm stuck with my old one and I'm reading this topic for tips.

I do have a rice cooker and would not be able to make perfect Japanese ("sushi") rice without it (by which I mean Koshihikari rice). I don't really know how to make any other kind of rice in it, but basmati rice is so easy in a pan on the stovetop, and Arborio needs a lot of special treatment...


My meager 2¢... for the crock pot get a very basic model just like you've got, with a dial, not a fancy programmable push button control panel. And try an oval shaped model. Removable crocks for washing are the schnizzle.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:30 am

Belatedly piling on, I don't know whether to be proud or embarrassed that we don't own any of these appliances. I keep trying to think of a reason why I might want to, and my inner geek does love the idea of a high-tech, high-end rice maker, as geeky as they get. :mrgreen: But I really can't think of anything they do that I can't do with existing equipment.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:44 am

Robin Garr wrote: But I really can't think of anything they do that I can't do with existing equipment.

For me it's not that I CAN'T do anything without them, but that they do it better or with less time or work. The prime example being the pressure cooker. As Jenise says, traditionally long cooked meats aren't merely quicker, but actually seem to turn out better (like her we do lamb or veal shanks in cooker). I think if you cook your beans with meat/bones in it, seems to extract more flavor. And as Salil says great for things like dal- not just quicker but pretty close to perfect each time.

We eat mostly Japanese rice (koshihikari or haiga, which is just koshihikari with the germ intact) and rice cooker does perfectly. Plus it automatically switches to warm mode. Sure, you could do in a pot, but even if you weren't doing anything else I'd bet you'd have an off-pot sometimes. That's why every Japanese household and restaurant I've ever encountered uses.

The slow cooker is the one where I can't think of a dish that it does better than say a dutch oven on stovetop. It is purely a convenience. IF I worked from home or were retired, I wouldn't get one. But we often sometimes both have full workdays where we won't be home till late, and if Betsy can brown some chicken in AM before a rehearsal and throw some things in slow cooker, it's pretty damn nice to come home to poulet bonne femme. :)

Frank, I personally would be skeptical of a slow cooker that browned. I'm generally not a fan of browning in even a non-stick pan, and doubt ceramic would do a good job. If slow cooker recipe needs browning, I generally just do in cast iron and deglaze - we're talking one minute for extra cleanup. Removable insert is a plus for serving at table. As noted, programmable is nice if you are gone for 10 hours and don't want mush. I seldom use the high temp, but we did put the slow cooker on table a couple of times and used the high setting for shabu shabu broth.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:56 pm

Dale Williams wrote:For me it's not that I CAN'T do anything without them, but that they do it better or with less time or work.

Thanks for the thoughtful analysis, Dale. I thought about the pressure cooker later, and I agree, if we're talking strictly in terms of it as a time-saver, you've got a point. I balance that against our current wish to get rid of toys (kitchen included) rather than adding more, and I can't justify it, but yes, mark that one down.

With a heavy black-iron dutch oven and a modern stove with a low-heat burner on the back, in particular (or even without), I don't see any advantage to the slow cooker other than possibly being safer to leave on all day while no one's home, but I honestly can't say I miss that.

As for the rice cooker, when I first met Mary, she taught me her mother's old trick: Use a double boiler. It's an amazing solution, as you can leave it on anywhere from 20 minutes (minimum) to an hour, or simply hold it over the hot water after it's done, and get good texture and no stick every time. Yet I've never seen it in a cookbook.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Jon Peterson » Mon Mar 18, 2013 11:21 am

My kids hate slow cookers/crock pots - they say everything cooked in them tastes the same. I can't say I disagree too much.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Frank Deis » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:12 pm

Well, I don't think my crockpot spicy Moroccan chick-pea stew tastes anything at all like my crockpot coq au vin...

I'm not a crock-pot addict by any means but when you don't have time to putter in the kitchen and you want the house to smell great when you come home from work, that's the way to do it.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Carl Eppig » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:23 pm

Jon Peterson wrote:My kids hate slow cookers/crock pots - they say everything cooked in them tastes the same. I can't say I disagree too much.


That is probably true if you only use the little book that come with the cooker; and even those have gotten much better in recent years. I agree with Frank and others that if get creative and use a little more spice in your recipes, the results will be much better.

The best use we get out of ours is making stock. The night before we toss in the veggies and then a carcass or bag of parts, cover with water and in the morning you have better stock than you can get anywhere in a box or can.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Jenise » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:59 am

Not a crock pot user, but there's no logical reason everything cooked in a crock pot would taste the same any more than everything cooked in your 8 qt Le Creuset. It's really just a braising something for you extra slowly while plugged into the wall instead of being on the stove or in the oven--it's a different vessel with a different heat source, and that's all. If everything tastes the same, then the recipes chosen are at fault and the cook isn't taking advantage of the opportunity to freshen up the flavors before serving with fresh hits of garlic, herbs, salt and pepper or what have you that would give each dish immediacy and character.
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Re: slow cookers/crock pots and Rice Cookers.....whatchya got?

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue Mar 19, 2013 12:56 pm

Not a crock pot user, but there's no logical reason everything cooked in a crock pot would taste the same any more than everything cooked in your 8 qt Le Creuset.


There may not be a logical reason, but In my experience, the food does not do as well in the crock as it does in my Le Creuset. While I am a fan of slow cookers, especially when three kids were going in six directions and I was their personal transport, it was convenience that drove me to use mine. I still do, on occasion, for convenience. They are great when we take a day trip, and want to come home to a hot cooked meal. I have noticed that the food develops much more liquid than I usually would prefer. A slow cooker doesn’t reduce liquid the same way a Dutch oven does, so the resulting braises and stews may be thinner, so you either have to adjust your liquid or take the solids out and reduce the liquid. I find the taste is different, as well. The new cookers that are able to brown the meats in the same vessel they are to be slow cooked in are a great improvement. I have not tried these one pot, do it all slow cookers, nor do I know anyone who has one. I'd love to try one, however.
Another thought to all this, is that I don't like the consistancy of the veggies coming out of the slow cooker. To avoid that, one would need to add the veggies later in the process. So, then what is the point? If I need to be home to do that I may as well use my dutch oven and get a better outcome. The same goes for the addition of spices, herbs, etc. The whole idea of the slow cooker is to dump and go.
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