Beth Hensperger, Author, Julie Kaufmann, Author . Harvard Common $32.95 (512p) ISBN 978-1-55832-244-8 ISBN 978-1-55832-245-5

According to the authors, 80% of American households own a slow cooker. This whopping collection of 350 recipes is reason enough to unearth that Crock-Pot from the attic or invest in one of the new high-tech models. The title, however, is a misnomer, and not just because the book includes a recipe for "Mom's Beef Stew." Much of what Hensperger (The Bread Bible ) and Kaufmann (coauthor, with Hensperger, of The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook ) present is exactly the kind of comfort food typically associated with childhood snow days or family gatherings. To use the word "hearty" in describing these recipes is to state the obvious. There are more than a dozen oatmeals and porridges, ranging from Cinnamon Apple Oatmeal to Creamy Cornmeal Porridge. Soups include Vegetarian Split Pea, French Onion, and White Bean with Bacon. Twenty-four types of baked beans are mere prelude for the 14 chili options, including "Senator Barry Goldwater's Arizona Chili" (which gives new meaning to the phrase "bowl of red"). Other recipes are for poultry, meat and fish dishes, and New and Old World dishes are plentiful. The only letdown is the "Not-from-the-Slow Cooker Accompaniments" chapter, with its uninspired choices like Baked Rice, and Mixed Green Salad. But the concluding pages, full of puddings and fruit desserts, atone with sinful treats like Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding Cake and Rum-Butterscotch Bananas. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 01/03/2005
Release date: 12/01/2004
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