TRAVERSE CITY — Amy Hanten still can recall her family’s “harvest gold” Crock-Pot and the day the lid broke.
“It was tragic,” said Hanten, who grew up in Petoskey. “You couldn’t get a replacement lid back then and Crock-Pots were expensive.”
Now the busy mom, TV cooking show host, cookbook author and food blogger can’t imagine life without her own slow cooker.
“If I can just get up five minutes earlier in the morning to throw a few ingredients in the slow cooker, I can handle whatever the day brings,” said Hanten, of Harbor Springs and Green Bay, Wis. “No matter how crazy it gets, or how late those after-school activities go, I just keep smiling. I know the house will smell amazing when we walk in the door and a delicious dinner will be waiting for us.
“I also love the fact that I didn’t have to hit a fast-food restaurant on the way home from my daughter’s game.”
Slow cooking is making a comeback, thanks to a growing interest in local foods, coupled with busier lives. But today’s foodies with families don’t have to settle for bland, unimaginative one-pot meals like the ones their mothers made. Instead they can dine on everything from “Nawlins”-style venison gumbo to Crock-Pot cheesecake.
“You can be more creative than the typical throw-the-meatballs-in-the-Crock-Pot, without spending a fortune, especially with entertaining friends who come up to ski,” said Perry Harmon, manager and chef at Grand Traverse Distillery and a former chef and cooking instructor at Chateau Chantal. “There’s so much with our food economy, all our wineries and different kinds of beer. We’re members of a CSA and we just got our winter share with a lot of root vegetables, which lend themselves to slow cooking. There’s more you can do and still not spend a lot of money.”