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Slow Cooker...


Hmmm, ...well, ...I'd been meaning to buy a slow cooker for some time for the purpose of making porridge, ...because that's what I eat in the morning. I guess we're, most of us, pretty conservative about what we eat for breakfast. Later in the day we might be more adventurous about our eating choices, but first thing in the morning, we don't want to make too many decisions; we just want breakfast. Am I right? Anyway, what I eat for breakfast is almost always porridge.

Now I'd got down to a fine art how to make porridge on the stove in the morning, but there was always this conflict between wanting really well-cooked porridge, and wanting to eat and get out of the door quickly. Hence the plan to get an automatic porridge maker.

I didn't shop around at all; I just came across this 3.5 litre Morphy Richards slow cooker in Sainsbury's some time ago. I read the instructions in the shop, saw no mention of porridge making - just recipes for meat stews mostly - but I thought it was worth the risk, so I bought it. It cost 30.

(UPDATE... Even slower cooker)

It took a few days to get the hang of which temperature setting to use, and also how much liquid to use as you lose less through evaporation than you do when cooking on a stove. Eventually I found the 'low' setting works best for overnight cooking, and have settled on the following recipe, which varies of course according to what ingredients I have in the cupboard.

  • One small cup (my cup holds 100 grams) of coarse oatmeal (not rolled oats)
  • 4-5 small cups of water and rice milk (soya milk doesn't work)
  • Raisins
  • Poppy seeds
  • Half stick of cinnamon
  • A chopped apple or pear

The first thing to say is that the porridge is superb. The best porridge I've ever tasted, ready for me when I come down in morning. Just ladle it out and eat. It works. I'm keeping it. I can recommend it.

(I also made a very good chicken soup in it. What better device for making stock from bones?)

Having said that, it's not perfect. The outer surface of the cooker gets hot to the touch. Not hot enough to injure, but hot enough to shock and that could potentially cause you to drop something (and surely if the cooker is hot to the touch, then it is losing heat to the room, wasting power.) Also, the porridge can cook slightly unevely unless you carefully position the crock pot centrally in the cooker. The uneven cooking is never a real problem; just an annoying quirk.

And then the customer support: not bad, but I had a technical question I wanted answered, and found I was not allowed to talk to a techie, but had to go through the tedious process of asking the customer services person the question, so she could email the techies and come back to me with the answer - an answer of course that didn't make sense because of the 'chinese whispers' effect. Eventually I got the answer though, which was interesting. Apparently, the three 'temperature settings' are not thermostatically controlled. You have two elements. One is switchd on for 'low'; both for 'high'. the 'medium' setting uses the 'high' setting until a certain temperature is reached (about an hour usually) and then switches to the the 'low' setting. This makes sense, but it would be so much easier if the manual explained how the machine worked in the first place.

Oh, one last gripe. The rotary temperature selector has four settings: OFF - HIGH - LOW - MEDIUM that order. How counter-intuitive is that?! What's wrong with OFF, LOW, MEDIUM, HIGH...? ...or labelling the MEDIUM position 'AUTO', which is more accurate anyway...?


...It's a good cooker. Recommended.

Copyright 2005 Paul Mackilligin