So my latest book review is for The Great American Slow Cooker Book by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
I had high hopes for this book. I absolutely love my slow cookers (I have two of them) and, especially during the school year, they are my go-to's for meals easy to throw together and ready when we get home.
First, the good: I love that the book is laid out in nice tables based on the size of your slow cooker. It's sometimes hard to gauge recipes when you have different size slow cookers. It is also geared toward newer slow cookers that run hotter (as opposed to using older cook books that don't account for this difference). For the most part, the recipes seemed pretty easy. There is also a wide variety covering everything from breakfast to dessert, and more "exotic" things such as rabbit and lamb in addition to beef or chicken.
Now, the (mostly) not-so-good: I didn't want to review a cookbook until I had made recipes from it. So I chose two of them to make. First, I made Broccoli Cheddar Soup (p. 68). I followed the directions to the letter for my size cooker (as the authors recommend not deviating from the recipes the first time you make them). What I ended up with was....slightly edible and mostly gross looking. My kids wouldn't touch the clotted up yellowish mixture with green flecks that came out of my crock pot. We ended up going to Applebee's (99 cent kids meals anyone?). It was a disaster that smelled bad dumping it in the trash.
Not to judge a book by only one recipe, I made the Sweet and Sticky Country Style Ribs (p. 196). They cooked well, but you could just taste a bit of cinnamon and maple syrup. You couldn't even tell the soy sauce was part of the process, and they definitely needed salt. We ended up dipping them in bbq sauce anyway, which was a little disappointing. They kind of tasted like nothing on their own. Just meat.
Overall the book is laid out well (in terms of sections for breakfast, particular meat, etc) but the index is hard to use (something that drives me crazy as a future librarian). The photos are in the middle, and there aren't many. My husband calls the book "not visually appealing". They also list their prep as "not much" "a little" and "a lot", but it was hard to tell why recipes fell into these sort of random categories.
I can forgive all of that if the recipes were decent, but I don't think I'll be using this particular book again to make anything. I wonder who the testers were that tried the recipes, because their tastes must vary greatly from my family. We're not really all that picky (well, besides the 8 year old), so it was a shame this cookbook didn't pan out.