After recently reviewing “Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Grilling” primarily for my newspaper column in Senior News and later elsewhere because I liked the book so much, I decided to see what my library had to offer in the series. While I am primarily a meat and potatoes kind of guy, I like to cook and do have a slow cooker. The last thing I want to do after teaching all day is come and cook. So, I was especially interested in this title.

The book is broken down in what seems to be the standard format in this series. The three main sections are labeled as “15 Minutes Hands-On Time” followed by” 30 Minutes Hands-On Time” and “Make More To Store.” Each section has a number of recipes such as “spring veal stew,” “tuscan ribollita,” “beef –chipotle chili” or the just flat out funny sounding “turkey breast in mole.” That one is followed by “mole enchiladas” and ” mole huevos rancheros.” “Mole” in this case seems to refer to a cooked combination of spices, onions, tomatoes and chilies used as a base to add other items to in order to create whatever recipe. Unfortunately, there are no calorie counts, fat counts, salt levels, etc. making it impossible to realistically determine how healthy any of the dishes are though many make use of items in such quantities one gets the impression they aren’t designed for cardiac or low fat diets. Each section contains numerous pictures of the dishes once they are completed.  The three main sections lead to the back of the book where there are detailed instructions on types of cookers, planning ahead, stocking your pantry, ingredients to use along with seasonal suggestions, and storage tips making this area much more valuable than the preceding pages.  The book closes with an easy to use index.

Clearly the book is well thought out and is done well. But, for me, this book is a serious disappointment.

As I said before, the last thing I want to do when I come home from teaching and working with kids all day is to stand in the kitchen and cook. I don’t find it therapeutic to chop and slice stuff for dinner after getting the first load of laundry going and the dishwasher started.  It is nice to come home and find something almost ready to eat assuming the local power folks have managed to keep the power on (something they certainly seem to have trouble with, since we changed into a deregulated market with resulting astronomical bills).

I certainly don’t want to cook before I go to work. In order to use most of the recipes in this book, which are ones my family wouldn’t eat anyway because they are picky scavengers, one would have to do a lot of cooking before finally moving items to the slow cooker to slow cook for the day. Many of the recipes start with the instruction to brown chicken, pork, beef, etc. in a large frying pan for 10 or 20 minutes. Other recipes start with cooking the meat on the grill or under the broiler for a specified period of time before moving the meat to the slow cooker.  Not only am I not human in the morning until I have had a couple of cups of tea, I have no desire to get up an hour early or so to cook something before it is added to the slow cooker to simmer all day. That defeats the whole purpose of being able to throw whatever into the slow cooker, set it, and forget it. So, for me, this book is a dismal failure and while it’s well done, it does not fit what want or need from a book with this title.

Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Slow Cooker>

Recipes by Norman Kolpas

General Editor Chuck Williams

October, 2006

ISBN# 0-8487-3139-5




Reviewed book provided by the Plano, Texas Public Library system

Kevin R. Tipple © 2008

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