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CAROLFAITHWALKR's Photo CAROLFAITHWALKR Posts: 15,611
4/4/11 3:08 A

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"Do slow cookers come without timers?"
All slow cookers are different. All of my manual slowcookers come without timers.

"I don't think I've ever seen one without, and it the pot has a timer, why would you need a lamp timer?"
All of my slowcookers come without timers, so if I'm going to be gone a long time and I don't want my food overcooked or burned, then I use a lamp timer. I can plug the crockpot in at 6:30, set the lamp timer to turn on the crockpot at noon, and get home at 8pm for a nice meal.

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LONG35 Posts: 10,325
4/4/11 1:12 A

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Thanks for the explanation Carol. Somehow I just didn't relate lamp timer and food in my mind. I have used timers in my home for lights, and sprinklers - but never for food.
Do slow cookers come without timers? I don't think I've ever seen one without, and it the pot has a timer, why would you need a lamp timer? I'm confused.
Fran

OLDSCUBACHICK's Photo OLDSCUBACHICK Posts: 530
4/3/11 4:13 P

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I'm guessing that you have to have enough liquid to cover meat, if you are going to leave it cooking for an extended period of time... 10-12 hours-ish? It really seems to be the part that's not covered in liquid that gets burned. I mean, I can cook chicken successfully in my crock, just not for huge amounts of time. emoticon

Cathie from Oregon

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CAROLFAITHWALKR's Photo CAROLFAITHWALKR Posts: 15,611
4/3/11 3:22 P

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I, too, have successfully cooked chicken breasts many many times in the crock pot . . . success or failure depends on:

how much other liquid in the recipe?
for how long?
is your crockpot a newer one that runs hotter than the older ones?
is your crockpot developing a hot spot?

A lamp timer is 5-7 bucks at Walmart or similar stores; go to the hardware dept, then look in the lighting section. People use them to set the lamps to go on and off in their home at scheduled times even when they're not there, to make it look like they are home. Light is on but no one's home? Maybe it was a lamp timer, heh heh. People also use them for the same reason for Christmas lights. And we can plug a crock pot into them, leave for work at 6:30 am, tell the lamp timer to turn on the crockpot at noon, and get home at 8pm for a nice meal.

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DARK_CINDERELLA's Photo DARK_CINDERELLA Posts: 732
4/3/11 11:17 A

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Actually, I use chicken breasts all the time in the crock. They always come out well, never dry. Maybe your crock runs high?

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must first set yourself on fire!


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LONG35 Posts: 10,325
4/2/11 7:24 P

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What is a lamp timer?

OLDSCUBACHICK's Photo OLDSCUBACHICK Posts: 530
4/2/11 1:48 P

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My crock pot is brand new. I lost the lid on my old one and decided it was time for a new one anyway. I didn't realize at the time, though, that there were models with timers. Dang! So I thought I was doing well to get one with 4 different settings... I need to pick up a lamp timer. That's a great idea!

Cathie from Oregon

Who am I, to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.


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CAROLFAITHWALKR's Photo CAROLFAITHWALKR Posts: 15,611
4/2/11 9:36 A

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Generally speaking, don't cook chicken breasts in the crockpot; they come out tough and dry. Generally speaking, and once again this is an over-generalization, only cook chicken on the bone and dark meat like thighs and drumsticks on the bone, in the crockpot.

I have successfully cooked chicken breasts many many times in the crock pot . . . but generally, change your expectations to short cooking times only, for lean, white meat.

Personally on days when I know it's 9+ hours I use the lamp timer to cook stews, soups, curry, chowder, or anything else WATER BASED. Not lean, white meat. And beef roasts with vegetables; the potatoes and carrots are never under-done because they have plenty of time . . .

Also all crock pots are different; some are hotter than others, so cooking time varies.

If it's a new recipe and you're going to be gone more than 8 hours on low, then I'd switch to a soup. Make chicken vegetable soup, instead of chicken breasts, for example. You can turn it into chicken noodle soup (if you want to) when you get home, but don't cook noodles in it, either. Cook the noodles, rice, stars etc separately. If you don't want the extra step when you get home, then add raw diced potato or lima beans to the crockpot. (Some people like lima beans in chicken soup; I don't; but it's a classic recipe, so I'm just saying . . . )

I had a crockpot for many many years that developed a hot spot and burned food. About 9 months later the crock developed a crack and I threw it out, even though I hadn't dropped it or abused it. So my experience is, if your food is burning because of a hotspot, it would be wise to replace your crockpot without waiting. Safety first! I noticed the crack when washing it, and never used it again, so I had no mishaps. Just a word to the wise since some of us on the team are new to crocking, or had one for years and never used it, etc.

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LONG35 Posts: 10,325
4/2/11 2:52 A

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If it's an older crockpot, perhaps the thermostat has gone bad. Maybe it's time for a new one?
I don't cook from frozen, and I have never had anything dry out (unless there wasn't enough liquid in it to begin with), or burn.

OLDSCUBACHICK's Photo OLDSCUBACHICK Posts: 530
4/2/11 2:16 A

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I will say that yes, you can "burn" food. At least it comes out either too dried out or even has a burned taste, even if it's not looking very burned. I have done this more than once! I'm having trouble finding easy recipes that can cook for long periods of time, 10-12 hours.

My crock doesn't have an automatic timer, but has settings like 4hrs, 8 hours or 12 hours. But the 12 hours certainly overcooked the Kona chicken I made the other night, using frozen chicken! Arrgghhh...

Cathie from Oregon

Who am I, to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.


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LONG35 Posts: 10,325
4/2/11 12:01 A

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I agree - bacteria can certainly grow. Another solution to that problem can be to run the pot on high for an hour or two, which can defrost the food rather quickly, then turn it down to cook the rest of the way. I always begin my meal on high for 1/2 to 1 hour to get it to temperature, then turn it down to the proper temperature for the rest of the day.

DARK_CINDERELLA's Photo DARK_CINDERELLA Posts: 732
4/1/11 10:00 P

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I use frozen meat all the time, but the "rationale" for not using frozen meat is due to the longer cooking times. Crock pots take so long to get up to temperature that bacteria can theoretically flourish in that environment before optimum temperature is reached. If you don't cook the meat completely, you can make yourself and your family sick. But, for those of us who work long days (12 hour shifts here), that risk is negligible.

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must first set yourself on fire!


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LONG35 Posts: 10,325
4/1/11 9:31 P

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Any food, if cooked from the frozen state, runs the risk of not being done when you take it out.
It is always suggested that you not put frozen food in a crockpot.

I haven't got a new cooker that is programmable, but I'm sure tempted to buy one. Would certainly be helpful.

NEWHORIZONSR4ME's Photo NEWHORIZONSR4ME SparkPoints: (33,587)
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4/1/11 9:12 P

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Interesting subject. Why aren't you supposed to use frozen chicken?

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
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JUNEBUG616's Photo JUNEBUG616 Posts: 48
4/1/11 3:10 P

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Thanks for the tips! I will try cooking the recipes with longer cooking times once I am already home. emoticon

C25K Completed 2/10/2011

2011 Races:
2/26/2011 Gasparilla 5K - 32:11
3/25/2011 Twilight 5k - 32:13
4/10/2011 IronGirl 5K - 31:40
10/1/2011 Halloween 5K (Disney) - 33:45
10/29/11 The Great West Chase - 31:54
11/20/11 Women's Running 5K - 32:28


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CAROLFAITHWALKR's Photo CAROLFAITHWALKR Posts: 15,611
4/1/11 12:01 P

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Sometimes it's best to cook certain things on your day off or at night when you're home. I do this with new recipes when I'm not sure about them, too. On batchcooking day I always have a crockpot going.

Another option is to buy a programmable crockpot.

Another option with a manual crock pot is to use a lamp timer. Go to Walmart and get one for $5 - $7. Play with it on your day off to make sure you know how to set it correctly, and that it goes on when intended. I often use lamp timer for chicken and fish; which are easy to overcook.

Another option is to put chicken breasts in when they are frozen solid, on purpose, even though you're never supposed to do this - it takes them longer to cook that way, as long as juices run clear they have cooked enough adn you're fine.

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JAYMAXX's Photo JAYMAXX Posts: 2,025
4/1/11 11:47 A

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i'm new to slow cooking also, so will be interested in the answers to your questions.
welcome to the team.

emoticon

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JUNEBUG616's Photo JUNEBUG616 Posts: 48
4/1/11 11:18 A

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I am very interested in starting to use my crock pot more but I always get caught up on the cooking times on recipes. There are some recipes that look really great but they say "cook on low" for any where between 4 - 6 hours. I work all day so would not be home when the recipe is "done" Will the recipe burn?

C25K Completed 2/10/2011

2011 Races:
2/26/2011 Gasparilla 5K - 32:11
3/25/2011 Twilight 5k - 32:13
4/10/2011 IronGirl 5K - 31:40
10/1/2011 Halloween 5K (Disney) - 33:45
10/29/11 The Great West Chase - 31:54
11/20/11 Women's Running 5K - 32:28


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