Pros: Simple to use; durable; small slow cooker good for small families; reliable
Cons: outside of cooker gets hot; non-removable stonewear;
Happy 10th birthday to my Rival Crock-Pot. I remember the day fondly, I unwrapped the bridal shower gift, looked at the crock-pot and the crock-pot cookbook, thanked the sweet lady who gave the gift to me and though....what the heck am I supposed to do with this thing?!?
Ten years, a host of moves, a countless number of meals and the crock-pot is still working so I'll give Rival credit for making a good product. And after the last decade I've learned to use my wedding gift fairly well and more frequently than I had imagined all those years ago.
Once I got over the initial intimidation of using this all in one kitchen gadget I learned it could be a real life-saver. How much easier could it get than to throw all the ingredients into one pot and let it cook for hours only to have a wholesome meal ready by the end of the day.
My sister-in-law gave me a couple of crock-pot recipe books one Christmas which I've come to treasure as well. Don't get me wrong, I've made some pretty disastrous dishes, but that comes with experimenting with new recipes. Yet even easier are the new frozen crock-pot meals which you open up, pour into the pot and let cook...shhh..don't tell and no one will know that you didn't make it.
I've searched the Rival website at www.rivalproducts.com along with other websites that sell Rival products and I have not been able to find the same Rival model 3120 Crock-Pot anywhere. As old as mine is it has probably been discontinued.
The model 3120 that I own is a 3-quart slow cooker. A bit small, but it holds plenty for a family of 3 - a small roast, several boneless chicken breasts, etc. If I find a recipe I want to make and it calls for a 6 qt crock-pot I simply scale down the recipe to fit my slow cooker.
The inside of the crock-pot is a brown stoneware and the outside is metal which is white with a vegetable theme - each vegetable is painted a different color such as red tomatoes, yellow peppers, green peas, etc. also each vegetable has the name printed beside it. The brown stonewear has handles, however, the inside stoneware from my crock-pot is not removable.
Underneath the crock-pot are three raised areas which serve as legs/feet for the crock pot - these are actually made on to the pot and are not removable.
The cord is about 25 inches in length and has a standard polarized plug. The shorter plug is fine with me as the outside of the crock-pot does heat up during cooking. Therefore I prefer to keep it positioned toward the back of my counter top to keep my daughter from reaching it while it's on.
The unit itself is simple to operate, you only have the choice of off, low, or high. LOW is recommended for slow, all-day cooking. HIGH is obviously for faster cooking. One hour on HIGH equals about 2 to 21⁄2 hours on LOW. The knob of the unit is located on the bottom front side and turns like a dial.
The lid is a clear plastic and sits on top of the slow cooker (does not have a locking feature). While food cooks moisture does build up on the inside of the lid. However, spinning the lid while it's on the crock-pot will help take the moisture off so I can get a glimpse of how well the food is cooking. I have recently read that a crock-pot lid should not be removed during cooking. If the lid is removed, 5 minutes should be added to the cooking time.
As for care of the lid, I usually wash it in hot soapy water. However, I have also washed it in the top rack of the dishwasher.
For care of the crock-pot - do not submerge it in water. The stoneware may be washed in hot soapy water using a soft cloth or sponge. The outside can be wiped down using a soft cloth and warm soapy water and dried well. The way I clean my crock-pot, since the stonewear is not removable, is by allowing it to cool down, then I sit it in the sink and depending on what I've cooked I will fill the stonewear with warm-hot soapy water and allow it to soak before cleaning. To rinse I use the sink sprayer and rinse it out well.
A Few Tips About Using the Rival 3120 Slow Cooker
1. Always cook with the lid on.
2. Follow recommended cooking times.
3. Do not use slow cooker stoneware for storage of food.
4. Do not reheat foods in your Crock-Pot slow cooker.
5. Do not set heated unit filled with food on a finished wood table.
6. Unplug when cooking is done and before cleaning.
7. Always use hot pads when moving your heated Crock-Pot
Don't Let Me Fool You
I did say it's as simple as throwing all the food into the crock-pot and forgetting about it until the end of the day. Depending on the recipe and types of ingredients going into the crock-pot some foods may need to be browned or slightly cooked before hand. For instance, if meats contain fats, brown in a separate skillet or broiler and drain well before adding to cooker. Also, beans must be softened completely before combining with sugar and/or acid foods. Dried beans, such as red kidney beans, should be boiled until tender before adding to a crock-pot recipe.
Almost any recipe can be turned into a crock-pot recipe. Just keep in mind especially when adding liquids that more juices in meats and vegetables are retained in slow cooking than in conventional cooking. But to take the fear out of cooking with a crock-pot, take advantage of the many crock-pot cookbooks that are available, they contain some wonderful tasting and healthy recipes that the whole family will enjoy.
Once I finally challenged myself to use the Rival Slow Cooker years ago I found that I could make some great tasting meals without all the fuss in the kitchen. I've used my crock-pot to make dishes such as beef stew, chili, cheese dip, a variety of chowders, Pulled Pork BBQ (Yummm), soups, chicken, beef dishes, black beans and rice, hot apple cider, spaghetti, baked apples and many other dishes.
Now that fall is approaching I'm looking forward to breaking out the good old Rival Slow Cooker and filling my home with the smell of some home cooking. Oh, who am I kidding, I use this handy appliance throughout the year, but soups and stews are best when old man winter comes to town.
So break out those slow cooker and get yourself some good crock-pot recipes and enjoy. If you don't have a slow cooker I do recommend the Rival 3120 Slow Cooker if you can get your hands on one. It is a bit small but it holds enough for a family of 3.
As for traveling with this slow cooker, it does not have a carrying case as some slow cookers do and as I stated above the lid does not lock down. The few times I've had to transport our slow cooker I've placed it inside a box padded with dish towels in the event of a spill and sat it in the floor of our car. So far no mishaps. Maybe one day I'll retire my Rival 3120 but for now it does a fine job and like the old saying goes - why fix something that ain't broke.
Thanks for reading =)