Book Review – The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners by Heidi Kennedy; Katie Handing; Sarah Ince.

2 out of 5 stars

I would like to thank Quarto Publishing Group – Harvard Common Press for providing me with a free – temporary – electronic ARC of this book, via Netgalley. Although I’m auto-approved with this publisher, the decision to read this book is entirely my choice and any reviews given are obligation free.

Regular readers of my reviews will know I am a sucker for a cook book, especially one that uses a slow-cooker or multi-cooker. As mentioned in ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ having the ability to plan and put on dinner first thing in the morning, or around lunch time – to free up your afternoons for the bedlam that is after school activities – is an amazing time saver. It allows you the opportunity to have a warm, tasty, wholesome meal awaiting the family every night. With this shared ethos, I really thought I was going to enjoy ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’… Sadly, I did not. 😦

Warning – I will be providing a LOT of (hopefully) constructive criticism shortly. But I like to seek the positive and so will start with some nice things to say first.

‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ is well set-out, easy to follow and has a thorough index at the back of the book. The recipes are aimed for larger families – serving 6 to 8 portions per recipe – which is how I feel true family cook books should be. I hate the ones who serve two to four and call themselves “family” cookbooks. Uh, no you’re not. So portion sizes and easy to read and follow recipes are positives.

I also like how the recipes aren’t that “spoon feed” sort where half the book is made up of photos of the end products as if you need to check and see if your end result looks as good. 😉 Yes, I know the pictures are meant to entice a person into following the recipe, but I like a cook book that is more recipes and less glamour shots. So – another positive.

Sadly, that is where they end for me. Please let me emphasise the following isn’t me saying ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ is a horrible book. It isn’t! The following is merely explaining why it isn’t a cook book for me. My tastes, dietary restrictions, and whole food preferences mean I am the wrong person for the book… not that the book is bad.

Okay, here we go… Please forgive me Ms Kennedy, Ms Handing, and Ms Ince. Remember the mantra: “Pffffft, what would SHE know anyhow?!”

Besides the basic layout and portion sizes, ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ really wasn’t for me. The tips at the beginning started out being overly generic, and better suited for a seasoned crock-pot/ slow-cooker user than any newbie user trying to use the book to learn how to get started… then  the information became very basic and “spoon feed” in style, almost spelling out every nuance for the reader. I am wondering if there was more than one author for this part? A copy editor should have done a better continuity check for “user level”.

Then… Cleaning with ammonia gave me chills… as did cooking with plastic. Really? Don’t have enough toxins in your life? Cook your meals with plastic bags or plastic liners just to add that little extra evil into your bodies. :-/

And, BOY was there a lot of dairy fat in the recipes! Okay, so I am dairy free due to health issues… I am also unable to eat allium, wheat, barley, rye, seafood and so on…. If you’re like me and have a restricted diet, don’t want high fat meals, or are diabetic… this book is not for you. I like a cook book of recipes I can cook daily, or weekly. Most of the recipes in ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ were so rich and so high in unnecessary calories that I can’t see them as a daily family meal. Occasional meals maybe, with changes to meet our allergies and intolerances… but not an everyday cook book.

I won’t even touch on the major use of pre-made foods as ingredients. No, I don’t mean things like frozen vegetables or pasta. I mean like cans of pre-made this sauce and bottles of pre-made that sauce. Maybe because I have to be careful of what ingredients my family eats I am less drawn to the pre-made… but I have always felt a decent slow-cooker meal is made with wholefood ingredients as the time it takes to slowly cook provides you with the flavours, rather than additive rich pre-mades doing it for you. Oh, and yeah, go the high fats and pre-mades but pretend it’s healthy as you’re using low-sodium soy sauce. Uh, okay?

So, yes… ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ is not a cook book I would use, but that is because I follow a different way of cooking and eating. The book’s way of cooking just doesn’t match this reader.

A final book nerd note on the formatting is that this book is obviously made for a North American audience (the publisher is North American so this was not a surprise) and although some measurements within ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ are in both metric and imperial, the majority of the measurements are imperial alone. In this day and age of online conversion tables and apps, it’s not a BIG issue, but one I always mention all the same.

Would I recommend this book to others?

I want to be polite and say yes, but I honestly don’t know anyone who would cook in this style either. My social circles are made up of people with similar food intolerances and allergies, as well as similar whole food, plastic free principles and so this is not a book they would like either. But I guess there are readers in North America who might find the very American (to me) style cooking to their tastes?

Personally though, as much as I love the thought, time and obvious passion put into ‘The Crock-Pot Ladies Big Book of Slow Cooker Dinners’ by Ms Kennedy, Ms Handing, and Ms Ince, this isn’t a cook book I would recommend.

Would I buy this book for myself?

I am pretty sure we all know the answer to this one, right? Sadly this isn’t my type of cook book. Again I want to emphasise that I am NOT saying it is a terrible book… I am merely saying I am not the right audience for it. For me, there are other crock-pot/ slow-cooker cook books better suited to my food choices and principles.

In summary: A well laid-out, true family sized portions cook book, it just wasn’t my style of food.

Until next time,
Janis.

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