BYU Grad Uses Slow-Cooker Every Day for a Year

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A local woman made dinner in her slow-cooker one night and was surprised by  the convenience. She did it the next night and the night after that. After one week of using the slow-cooker for every dinner, she decided to take her cooking to the next level.

In a bold attempt to spice up her recipe collection, Karen Bellessa Petersen, BYU graduate and mother of two, decided to create a different meal using a slow-cooker every day for an entire year — leading to a successful website, a recipe book and a life-changing experience.

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Lindsay Herde prepares a meal in her slow cooker.
During her journey Petersen created a blog that tracked her progress, and as her readership grew it took on a life of its own. The website became a place where other people could share their experiences with Petersen’s recipes and share tips of their own. Through the website Petersen got the idea to write a recipe book that would highlight her most successful recipes and tips she had learned through her experience.

Even after her year of slow-cooking, Petersen still posts new recipes to the website and said she doesn’t shy away from bringing out the slow-cooker. Her website now has more than 500 recipes and a huge audience, with readers from over 70 countries clicking in.

Petersen’s husband, Gary, didn’t mind his wife using a slow-cooker every day because it meant he was getting fed great meals. Gary, who’s favorite dishes included soups, desserts and anything with meat, said there was only about one out of 20 instances where he wasn’t completely satisfied with the meal. Gary said he has been pleasantly surprised by the positive attention Karen has received and jokes that soon he’ll be able to quit his job and live off his “sugar mamma.”

“We didn’t have any expectations,” he said. “This has just blown up to be a huge success.”

While many students don’t have a family they need to worry about cooking for, slow-cookers can provide a way to get well-cooked meals without all the effort. Students will also be receiving health benefits by not having to eat over-processed foods.

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“If you have a group of six people in an apartment that can be a great way to save money and eat really good meals,” Petersen said. “If you’re willing to have one person each take a day of the week your budget will be fairly inexpensive. It can happen, it just takes a little bit of planning.”

Becky Keller, a recent BYU graduate from Orem, agrees a slow-cooker can be a great commodity for students. Keller uses a slow-cooker for one of her favorite dishes, pork tacos, and suggests a slow-cooker can also come in handy to use with food storage that is close to expiring.

“It takes out the long time and preparation and it gives you a lot of flavor for the most minimal amount of energy possible,” Keller said.

[pullquote]”It takes out the long time and preparation and it gives you a lot of flavor for the most minimal amount of energy possible.”[/pullquote]

Petersen’s newly-released book, “365 Days of Slow-Cooking” showcases a year’s worth of recipes, including appetizers, beverages, salads, stews and desserts. Petersen, who is most proud of her Asian-inspired meals such as Thai Peanut Noodles, Chicken Curry and Asian Lettuce Wraps, likes to prove there is no end to what can be done in a slow-cooker.

While Petersen has achieved a lot of success, for her the greatest benefit was what led her to initially try the experiment — the peace of mind a slow-cooker brings.

“If you get stuff done early you don’t have to worry about the annoying, nagging feeling of what you’re going to have for dinner,” Petersen said. “Now that it’s over I use a slow-cooker because I want to and not because I have to.”

For more info about Petersen and to view slow-cooker recipes, visit 365daysofcrockpot.com. “365 Days of Slow-Cooking” can be purchased at Deseret Book, Seagull Book, Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.

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