Maybe you use your slow cooker year round or maybe you don’t have one. Or maybe you fall somewhere in between, with a slow cooker shoved in the back of a low cupboard.

But no matter what your personal relationship with this piece of culinary equipment is, winter is a great time to either get yourself a Crock Pot or other brand of slow cooker or dust off the one you have. A slow cooker is useful year round but it is best suited to comfort foods, especially the braised meats and winter soups we want when the days are short and the temperatures low.

I got my first slow cooker about two years ago. It’s a Hamilton Beach, an inexpensive brand that seemed like a good place to

I bought a Hamilton-Beach Slow Cooker two years ago.

start. I paid $39.95 and when it quit working after about 11 months, I followed the instructions the company provided (cut off the electrical plug and send it, along with a check for about $10, to company headquarters) and received a new one about a week later. If it fails again, I’ll probably upgrade to a KitchenAid or Cuisinart slow cooker.

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe? If so, please describe it here. Here are my favorites from the Seasonal Pantry archives.

Polenta in a Slow Cooker This recipe has received more comments than almost any other recipe published in Seasonal Pantry, ever. Only Preserved Lemons have garnered more comments.

Slow-cooked Mushroom Soup with Madeira & White Pepper I love the way the earthy qualities of the mushrooms blossom during long slow cooking. The flavors of the pepper also blossom and so if you don’t like that bit of heat they contribute, reduce the quantity by half or even three quarters.

Slow-cooked Potato Soup with Winter Greens With potato soup as a foundation–think of it as a cook’s canvas–you can add just about any green or combination of greens and have a scrumptious soup.

Slow-cooked French Onion Soup Is there anyone who doesn’t love French Onion Soup? Probably. But if you are not among them, try this version. It is among my favorites.

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