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The Smaller Slow Cooker from All-Clad

Have you seen the new four quart slow cooker from All-Clad? About seven or eight years ago, I invested in the seven quart All-Clad slow cooker. Over the years, that cooker has saved me tons of time and money in the kitchen. I love the sleek look of the cooker but more importantly I love the way it cooks food so evenly. Other cookers I've used in the past seem to lack consistent heating and cooking ability, which can compromise the finished product. I tried numerous models before buying the All-Clad and all of them gave me ho hum results.

Regarding the seven quart All-Clad, I've used it for making everything from lasagna and pumpkin chili to beef stew and macaroni and cheese. However, when I was mooching around a cookware store in September, I noticed that All-Clad had released a smaller version of the mighty seven quart. Aha! I immediately knew this four quart could be a valuable addition to my kitchen. Unfortunately, the cooker was on back order for months. I sighed and waited patiently until my order arrived at Mrs Cook's here in Seattle last week. 

Priced at $149, I did question whether I really needed it but after careful and creative analysis, I decided that I did. I reasoned that the smaller version would let me experiment without risking a lot of ingredients. With my seven quart, I don't always like to make huge batches of a new dish because if it is a bust I'll be stuck with figuring out how to deal with the leftovers. Since Friday, I've already experimented with four dishes, adapting them to the slow cooker and feeling confident that I wasn't going to be wasting a ton of food. All of the dishes were successful and I'm thrilled with the flexibility that smaller version gives me. My first dish was a Coconut Curried Chicken that basically included ginger, garam masala, curry, coconut milk and boneless skinless chicken thighs. Highly aromatic, the dish featured tender silky chicken and was an easy dinner for a rainy Friday night. Over the weekend I pushed the envelope and cranked out a simple vegetable soup combining lots of miscellaneous vegetables and some frozen meatballs. That adventure yielded a simple and warming soup. Yesterday,  I ventured forth to make a Salmon and Crab Cioppino, cooking the soup base in the cooker all day and simply adding the seafood at the end right before serving. Today, I am making Salmon and Corn Chipotle chowder, and the base for that chowder is simmering quietly in the cooker. 

So, if you are in the market for a new cooker, check out the new four-quart All-Clad. With four settings, a sleek ceramic insert, vented glass lid, and attractive stainless steel housing, you'll be glad you did.  The slow cooker can be purchased by calling Mrs Cook's or through Amazon

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Meet The Interactive Butcher!

Do you ever feel baffled at the butcher counter? Do you gasp at the skyrocketing cost of beef? Do you want to try new cuts but you don’t want to experiment too much in case the final product is a flop? Do you like to buy meat on sale but often don’t know what to do with those featured cuts?

Well, I’ve discovered a new and nifty little digital tool that just might solve your quandary. Meet The Interactive Butcher Counter! Available online and on smart phones, this very practical resource will put a lot of these answers right at your fingertips…literally.

While at IFBC in Seattle last weekend, I attended an afternoon breakout session, Know Your Beef, Know Your Butchery: Cut Education Session with the Beef Checkoff. The reps from The National Cattlemen's Beef Association did an excellent job addressing the fact that drought and smaller herd head counts are some of the factors contributing to the skyrocketing prices of beef. They readily acknowledged that prices won’t be coming down for some time due to the nature of raising and rearing cattle.  As result they came prepared and ready to share tips, charts and infographics for cutting large purchases of meat and for serving those cuts in thrifty ways.  

While chatting with Bridget Elliott Coon, the Director of Consumer Information from the Washington State Beef Commission, I was impressed when she showed me “The Interactive Butcher Counter” on her phone. Bridget demonstrated how you can explore by a specific cut or be guided to the right cut. You can also select a cut. From there, Bridget showed me how you can search recipes for those cuts and decide if those professionally tested recipes will be right for your needs! Once you select a cut, the relevant information available includes the alternate names used, the best cooking methods, a link to the recipes using it, and nutritional information for those recipes.

Frankly, I can’t think of a simpler or more effective way to help customers tackle the quandary and cost confronting them at the butcher counter these days. I’ve cooked a lot of beef in my life but I know I’ll use this tool the next time I’m scanning the counter looking for flavorful, successful and economic alternatives. 

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