Slow cookers, which some may know as "crock pots," are great contributors to a simple life. Not only do they free up time, they also good for the electric bill as they allow you to avoid heating up the entire kitchen (or house) with the oven. Lots of inexpensive family meals can be created in this one, big pot, too.
You can prepare desserts, soups, stews, main dishes, as well as hot drinks in your cooker. Good recipe sources include: http://www.crockpot.com/recipescatapp.aspx, http://crockpot.cdkitchen.com/, and http://www.tastycrockpotrecipes.net/.
Or, you can convert your own recipe to the slow cooker - just change the times:
recipe = high setting = low setting
15-30 minutes = 1.5-2.5 hours = 4-8 hours
35-45 minutes = 3-4 hours = 6-10 hours
50 minutes-3 hours = 4-6 hours = 8-16 hours
1. Never just stick meat in the pot without some liquid in the bottom. If you don't want the liquid to touch the meat, take two or three balls of aluminum foil and place them in the bottom of the pot so the meat has something to rest upon. If you avoid using aluminum, try two or three potatoes instead.
2. As for which kind of crock pot to use, the one you got as a wedding present is fine -- but if it's one of the older ones that doesn't allow the stoneware pot to be lifted from the heating bucket, consider buying one that does. It's just so nice to put that stoneware pot first on the table, and then in the fridge after dinner is done....
3. Have more than one. Cook the roast or chicken in one pot, the veggies in the other, for example. Make a casserole in one, a bread pudding in the other. You get the idea.