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Invest in a slow cooker

By on May 28, 2012
crockpot roast


Dear Sara:

What size slow cooker do I need for a 4-pound chuck roast? Can I cut it up to make it fit in my Crock-Pot, which is pretty small? Also, if I do decide to get a bigger one, is there a difference between a Crock-Pot and a slow cooker? If so, which is better? I’ll be shopping for the most basic model. — Cari S., Texas

Dear Cari:

For a 4-pound chuck roast, I’d use at least a 6-quart slow cooker. You can cut the roast into sections if you want to, but it’s not necessary. I prefer an oblong slow cooker for meat and poultry. I use smaller, round slow cookers for dips, desserts, soups, etc.

Regarding Crock-Pots versus slow cookers: Crock-Pot is Rival’s brand of slow cooker. I’ve only owned two slow cookers in my life, and they’re both Crock-Pots, so I can’t tell you if Crock-Pot is better than any other brand. But I can say that I’ve been very happy with them. As far as basic slow cookers go, I suggest one with a manual control versus a digital touch-pad control (it’s cheaper), removable crock (for ease of cleaning) and glass lid (I’m not sure if plastic lids are still being made). If the handles or knob are attached to the lid by screws, you’ll want to check them regularly to be sure they’re tight. You may personally prefer features such as automatic shutoff, programmable settings, divided dish (for multiple dishes) or an insulated carry case, but those features aren’t typically available in a basic slow cooker.

Dear Sara:

I have a wooden kitchen table with ring-shaped water stains on it. Do you have any suggestions for removing them? — Melody, New Hampshire

Dear Melody:

Try rubbing mayonnaise onto the water stains, then wipe away the mayonnaise with a damp cloth.

Dear Sara:

Can you tell me how to find an affordable prom dress? I can’t afford to shell out hundreds for a formal dress for my daughter. — Jill S., New York

Dear Jill:

You have plenty of time to find an affordable dress. Check thrift stores and online resources such as Craigslist, eBay and Freecycle. has listings of stores across the country that take donated prom dresses. These stores then rent them out, give them away or sell them at greatly reduced prices.

Dear Sara:

I don’t want to use the plastic grass in my baskets this Easter. I hate that messy stuff. What can I use in its place? — Gina, email

Dear Gina:

Tissue paper or cellophane would work well. Socks, pajamas, a T-shirt or a hoodie would cushion and stabilize any smaller treats and be part of the gift.

Dear Sara:

I wiped up a garlic butter dipping sauce spill with a microfiber cloth. I washed the cloth and still smell the garlic. Is there any way to remove this odor? — Kelly, Illinois

Dear Kelly:

Try soaking the cloth in vinegar, lemon juice and water or Pine-Sol, then launder as usual.

Dear Sara:

I recently put too much oatmeal in an oatmeal cookie recipe. I tried adding butter to compensate, but the batch still didn’t turn out. How would you have fixed this problem? — BJM, email

Dear BJM:

I’d double the recipe, using less oatmeal in the added ingredients to make up for the excess. If you’re unsure exactly how much excess oatmeal you added in the first batch, I’d start with half the amount of oatmeal called for (unless you know you overdid it by a lot, in which case I’d start out with very little oatmeal) and gradually add more until it’s the right consistency. In other words, estimate it. You could always test it by baking a few. You might discover that you like the recipe with less or more oats, too.

photo by janineomg

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