In the Beauty Cabinet – a pretty palette

There are several constants this time of year—the desire to be wrapped in cashmere 24/7, stay in bed just a little longer every morning and find the perfect makeup palette.

M.A.C Cosmetics Stroke of Midnight Face Palette in Cool, $49.50, maccosmetics.com.
M.A.C Cosmetics Stroke of Midnight Face Palette in Cool, $49.50

When was the last time you actually used every eye, lip or cheek shade included in a makeup kit?  If you’re like me, the answer is never.  Usually something is left out or some of the colors don’t suit you.  You use it a few times and then it’s never to be seen again.  Now, according to Harper’s Bazaar M.A.C has come out with a real beauty must-have:

An all-in-one makeup palette that you’ll use every last bit of.

Product Review: The new edition by M.A.C Cosmetics, seen here in cool, sultry tones (there’s a version with warmer, pink-based shades, too), is a one-stop-shop for fixing your face at home or on-the-go. Because, really, why must you choose between lugging your entire arsenal of products and compromising the integrity of touchups before jetting to dinner? Use the light iridescent pressed powder to revive dull skin; create a natural or highly pigmented mouth with a combo of the mauve and plum lipsticks; give eyes subtle—or intense—definition with the blue-grey and deep plum shadows as well as a hefty dose of the true kohl black pencil.

Okay, like I mentioned you can never find a palette that includes ‘everything’ but you will make use of whatever is in this one (minus the blush) as the shades are universally flattering to all skin tones. Bonus: it’s easy to fit into your purse.


  Can you recommend any?

 

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Style – holiday gift ideas from outdoors to glitter gals

20 Awesome Gift Ideas to Satisfy Your Every Need

From the workout fanatic to the gadget-obsessed, here are some that caught my eye:

 Tech Dog Lover: 

Marc by Marc Jacobs Olive Silicone iPhone Cover, $50; net-a-porter.com
Marc by Marc Jacobs Olive Silicone iPhone Cover, $50; net-a-porter.com

Quirky yet Practical:

Comme Des Garçons Super Fluor Leather Card Holder, $94; net-a-porter.com
Comme Des Garçons Super Fluorescent Leather Card Holder, $94; net-a-porter.com

For the Cool Girl:

A 'Cool ring' by Lanvin, $875; farfetch.com
A ‘Cool ring‘ by Lanvin, $875; farfetch.com

For the Globetrotter:

 Le Pliage Patch Exotic Handbag, $660; longchamp.com
Le Pliage Patch Exotic Handbag, $660; longchamp.com
Manifesto Hair Boot, $468; allsaints.com
Manifesto Hair Boot, $468; allsaints.com
First Class Natural Skincare – all – inclusive flight package http://www.GetSpoiledNow.com
First Class Natural Skincare – an all inclusive flight package http://www.GetSpoiledNow.com

Racy & Lacy – sexy lingerie

 – http://www.IntrigueImports.com
blush lingerie – http://www.IntrigueImports.com

For the Foodie:

 Welcome Companions Toast Shoulder Bag, $560; welcomecompanions.com
Welcome Companions Toast Shoulder Bag, $560; welcomecompanions.com
 Trina Turk Mirage Ice Bucket, $58; trinaturk.com
Trina Turk Mirage Ice Bucket, $58; trinaturk.com
Calypso Mini Serving Board Set, $115; calypsostbarth.com
Calypso Mini Serving Board Set, $115; calypsostbarth.com

For the Beauty Obsessed:

eyes that sparkle plenty:  These Glamorous pigments s will give you the look you always wanted! They are made of 100% natural Mica. The unique blends of micro-pulverized minerals and pigments apply easily, blend incredibly well, and have an amazing staying power.  These shimmers are so pure that they will not irritate even the most sensitive eyes.  http://www.IntrigueImports.com
Mica Beauty – eyes that sparkle plenty:  made of 100% natural Mica. These shimmers (100 in total) are so pure that they will not irritate even the most sensitive eyes. http://www.IntrigueImports.com
An exotic Oil & Essence for your face http://www.IntrigueImports.com
An exotic Oil & Essence for your face http://www.GetSpoiledNow.com

For the Outdoorsy:

Signature L.L. Bean Boot, Wool Houndstooth 10", $159; llbean.com/llbeansignature
Signature L.L. Bean Boot, Wool Houndstooth 10″, $159; llbean.com/llbeansignature
Porselli For Woolrich Ballet Flat, $303; woolrich.eu
Porselli For Woolrich Ballet Flat, $303; woolrich.eu
Maslin & Co Zebra Hide Beach Towel, $250; maslinandcol.com
Maslin & Co Zebra Hide Beach Towel, $250; maslinandcol.com

Sparkly Obsessed:

Faberge Emerald, Ruby and Tsavorite Ring, $38,104; faberge.com
Faberge Emerald, Ruby and Tsavorite Ring, $38,104; faberge.com
 Alexander McQueen Embroidered Velvet Pumps, $995; net-a-porter.com
Alexander McQueen Embroidered Velvet Pumps, $995; net-a-porter.com

SPORTY:

Adidas by Stella McCartney Ararauna Dance Leopard-Print Sneakers, $130; net-a-porter.com
Adidas by Stella McCartney  Dance Leopard-Print Sneakers, $130; net-a-porter.com
 Dragon APX Snow Goggles, $220; rei.com
Dragon APX Snow Goggles, $220; rei.com
a pant that flatters, Maragarita Active Wear - flatteringly made for movement http://IntrigueImports.com
Margarita Active Wear – flatteringly made for movement http://IntrigueImports.com


Seen in ELLE.com

 

 

simply satisfying – Pecan Squash Butter

GOOD GOURD.  Winter squash comes in a wide range of shapes, sizes and tastes.

Acorn & Butternut
Acorn & Butternut – 2 favourites

It’s always fun to incorporate a new variety into your winter menu.  No matter which gourd you gravitate toward, make sure that it is heavy for its size, with taut skin and no soft spots or cracks.

Low-calorie winter squash contains an impressive slew of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, fibre, and beta carotene. Beyond its function as a potent antioxidant, beta carotene can be converted to vitamin A in the body to boost immunity and eye health. A recent study also found that higher intakes of beta carotene could help reduce the risk for atrial fibrillation, a potentially dangerous irregular heartbeat.

Pecan Squash Butter
Pecan Squash Butter

Ridiculously Easy Recipe:

Use this healthy & heavenly spread on your morning toast, slices of apple, or pieces of dark chocolate.

2 cups (500 ml) pecans

2 Tbsp (30 ml) melted coconut oil or other oil of choice

2 Tbsp (30 ml) honey

1 Cup (250 ml) squash puree

1/2 tsp. (2 ml) cinnamon

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) nutmeg

Place pecans, oil, and honey in container of food processor or high-powered blender and blend on high until mixture becomes creamy, about 2 to 5 minutes, depending on the machine you are using.  Wipe down sides as needed during blending.  If mixture is not becoming smooth enough, add a little extra oil to help smooth it out.

Place squash, cinnamon, and nutmeg in container and blend until smooth.  Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.  Serves 12

Selecting a Squash:

Acorn
This guise of squash gleans its name from the tree nut it resembles and has mostly dark green skin, with yellow-orange flesh that has subtle taste notes of black pepper and hazelnuts.

Try it: Roasted acorn halves are perfect for stuffing with various grain salads. Adorn acorn slices with syrup reduction sauces, such as balsamic or pomegranate.

Buttercup
This squash has a hard green skin with creamy orange flesh and turbanlike shape. It’s one of the sweetest tasting varieties.

Try it: Buttercup’s natural sweetness is a welcome addition to soups and other purées, such as baked goods or dips.

Butternut
Hourglasslike butternut is blessed with a silky texture and taste reminiscent of sweet potato bathed in butter.

Try it: Roast or steam into cubes for a nutritious and tasty addition to salads, frittatas, and tacos. Or mash it and use as a stuffing for ravioli, a spread for sandwiches, or even as a pizza sauce.

Delicata
The oblong delicata has a pale yellow skin and is not too shy to show off its green strips. The pulp is creamy and tastes a bit like a love child of corn and sweet potatoes.

Try it: Slice in half lengthwise and use as a squash boat for all sorts of stuffings. Roasted slices with a butter maple syrup glaze will quickly turn into a favourite winter side dish. Unlike other squash, delicata’s thinner skin is edible once cooked.

Hubbard
This giant of the squash world is available in blue-grey, green, or orange-red varieties, all with warty skin and grainy, mildly sweet flesh.

Try it: Cut into cubes and string onto kebab skewers or toss with other seasonal items such as parsnips and rutabaga for a roasted vegetable medley.

Spaghetti
Watermelon-shaped with golden yellow rind, this squash is aptly named—once cooked, the flesh pulls apart into slightly nutty, spaghetti-like strands.

Try it: Toss strands with pesto or top with meat sauce for a twist on pasta night.

Taken from alive – Canada’s Natural Health and Wellness Magazine.

Do you have a squash fave?

Culture/ART – Therapy for the Soul

A home without ART is just an empty space

Joseph Kyle - Radiance #1, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 72 inches
Joseph Kyle – Radiance #1, 2002, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 72 inches

“There is a point where beauty meets truth,

Where wisdom meets delight,

Where heaven meets earth,

It is to this vision of the sublime

That my painting aspires.” –  Joseph Kyle

 

What is art for?  We’re discovering that Art can act like therapy for the soul.  This makes perfect sense to me.  Different paintings evoke different feelings in each individual & have the ability to move you the same way that hearing a certain song makes you feel.  And, as everything tastes better with the right wine, everything looks better with the right ART.

The American Art Therapy Association describes art therapy as “a mental health profession” that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.” Now there’s a new book on the subject, appropriately entitled “Art as Therapy.”

artastherapyArt as Therapy is packed with 150 examples of outstanding art, architecture and design, while chapters on Love, Nature, Money and Politics show how art can help with many common difficulties, from forging good relationships, finding happiness, to coming to terms with mortality.  This book seeks to help us develop a deeper understanding of art and of ourselves in equal measure, providing fascinating reading for those who are familiar with art as well as those who are new to the subject.         About:                  

    Art as Therapy at Home

Written by Alain de Botton (author and founder of The School of Life) and John Armstrong (philosopher & art theorist), showing us how to look at and understand art in a completely novel way. In 2014, they will be guest curating both at the Art Gallery of Ontario and at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum according to this new framework. And below, Alain shows us how, in an ideal world, he might curate the walls of a home. Fascinating stuff that makes us re-think how we might approach hanging art in our own surroundings.

Why does it matter what’s on the walls of our homes? Our sensitivity to our surroundings can be traced back to a troubling feature of human psychology: to the way we harbor within us many different selves, not all of which feel equally like ‘us’, so much so that in certain moods, we can complain of having come adrift from what we judge to be our true selves – in part, because the walls look wrong

Unfortunately, the self we miss at such moments, the elusively authentic, creative and spontaneous side of our character, is not ours to summon at will. Our access to it is, to a humbling extent, determined by the places we happen to be in, by the color of the bricks, the height of the ceilings and the art on the wall. In a house strangled by three motorways, or with drab wallpaper or in a wasteland of rundown tower blocks, our optimism and sense of purpose are liable to drain away, like water from a punctured container. We may start to forget that we ever had ambitions or reasons to feel spirited and hopeful.

We depend on the art in our surroundings obliquely to embody the moods and ideas we respect and then to remind us of them. We arrange around us material forms which communicate to us what we need – but are at constant risk of forgetting we need – within.  Art can help us in many ways; identified below are a few descriptions & suggestions of where one might hang them.”

Hope in the Kitchen

Henri Matisse, Dance (II), 1909; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Henri Matisse, Dance (II), 1909; State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

“Matisse shows us an ideal image of women dancing in solidarity and joy. The French painter was not in denial of the troubles of this planet. But he wished to encourage us in an attitude of optimism, which he knew it can be hard for us to nurture and hold on to.

We should be able to enjoy an ideal image without regarding it as a false picture of how things usually are. A beautiful, though partial, vision can be all the more precious to us because we are so aware of how rarely life goes as we would like it to. We should be able to enjoy Matisse’s dancers without fearing that we are thereby colluding with a subterfuge played on a gullible public. The ideal it stands for is genuinely noble.

If the world were a kinder place than it is, perhaps we would be less impressed by, and in need of, pretty works of art. One of the strangest features of experiencing art is its power, occasionally, to move us to tears, not when we are presented with a harrowing or terrifying image, but when we see a work of particular grace and loveliness which can be, for a moment, heartbreaking. Matisse’s dancers might do this to us. What is happening to us at these special times of intense responsiveness to beauty? We are recognizing an ideal to which we are deeply attached, but from which we are too often alienated. The work of art helps us to see how much is missing and how deeply we would like things to be nicer than they are.

Rebalancing in the Dining Room

Hiroshi Sugimoto, North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York picture © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Pace Gallery
Hiroshi Sugimoto, North Atlantic Ocean, Cliffs of Moher, 1989; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York picture © Hiroshi Sugimoto, courtesy Pace Gallery.

“In Sugimoto’s photograph of the North Atlantic, we are in an undefined still vastness made up of only sea and sky.  A tranquil state of mind is supremely valuable in connection with many of the lesser troubles of life. Our capacity to get infuriated (and hence, usually, make matters worse by flying off the handle) is often driven by a refusal to accept how things are. Another person simply isn’t very interested in what we think; the world is not going to re-organize itself in sensible ways; the traffic just will be maddeningly slow, the train over-crowded. At times, we should know how to close down our hopes and give ourselves over to the contemplation of all that we will never be able to alter, here symbolized by the even, pure tones of an eternal horizon.  Sugimoto hasn’t just photographed the sea. He has provided us with a work that captures an attitude of mind to be summoned up at times of trial.”

LIVING ROOM – FOR THE SOUL:

Collectible Art by an original – Canadian Artist Joseph Kyle (1923-2005)

Delve within yourself to feel something that is incapable of expression in any but purely visual terms.  These paintings awaken your spirit.  It is to experience all without limits, it is to be infinite.  It is beyond categories.

Epiphany #5, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 inches.
Epiphany #5, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 48 inches.

Kyle’s background in contemporary classical music composition was a key inspiration to how he approached painting.  His ideas came from inside and not from an external reference. The composer must invent his form – he does not have a tree or a figure to copy, this form is drawn and realized from within.

Coherence in form, structure, shape, idea, colour and movement – each having a clear intentional relationship to the other.  Some might have categorized his work as geometric colour-field abstraction but Kyle rejected this term, preferring instead to using the word “Synoptics” – a description he originated and felt best represented his work.  Unique in concept, Syn-optics refers to “seeing as a whole.”  It is the ability to synthesize shape and colour on an equal footing and not as one reflecting or enhancing another. Kyle’s work forces the viewer to perceive an entire painting as an interactive whole rather than an assembly of individual compositional devices.  Symmetry, in Kyle’s hands, is not a compositional device.  It is a primal act whereby the chaos of the blank canvas is brought to order and activated.  The result is veil-like and ethereal.  Powerful.  The spiritual connotations of transparency are manifold. It evokes transcendence, purity, perfection of soul.

Synoptica
Synoptica #19, acrylic on canvas, 2002, 72 x 60 inches.

 The Canadian Cultural Review Board designated Joseph Kyle’s paintings as having “outstanding significance and national importance.” Kyle’s work has been collected for a number of important private and corporate collections throughout Canada. He is represented exclusively by Vancouver based Elan Fine Art Ltdhttp://www.elanfineart.ca  604.568.5709

Art Therapy – taken from goop magazine #12

Joseph Kyle – taken from a 22 page article written by Debra Usher for Arabella Magazine (Canadian Art, Architecture & Design).

Book Review: ‘When I read through Art as Therapy, paintings that I had long admired suddenly became new when seen through the filter of self-awareness and exploration. Really, a gem of a book.’  Gwyneth Paltrow, goop.com

Side note: Doctors noted that individuals suffering from mental illness often expressed themselves in drawings and other artworks, which led many to explore the use of art as a healing strategy.

What about you?  How do these make you feel?  

 

B well – B diet savvy

Good Guys
Good Guys

Little healthful tidbits that go a long way.

Does it seem to you like weight-loss tips sometimes change on the regular?

The bad guys
The bad guys

Yeah, it can be a little overwhelming.  But the good news is that there are some diet strategies that are irrefutably backed by science…dietrules1which means there’s at least some sort of solid base for those of us feeling like we would like

to shed a few pounds.

3 Weight-Loss Lessons that Actually Work, According to Science

Forbes came up with a list of six of them, but these three to be especially intriguing.

Diet matters more than exercise. This isn’t to say that working out doesn’t matter…it does! But when it comes to weight loss, specifically, according to Samuel Klein, MD: “Decreasing food intake is much more effective than increasing physical activity to achieve weight loss. If you want to achieve a 300 [calorie] energy deficit you can run in the park for 3 miles or not eat 2 ounces of potato chips.” Experts say that it’s easy to binge after working out, so you end up taking in more calories than you had burned.

There’s no combination of foods that will magically make you lose weight. Low-fat, low-carb, vegetarian, no-sugar…experts say that it basically doesn’t matter what diet you follow, because there’s no real evidence that one particular diet will work better with your own metabolism. Basically, they say: Any diet will work if you follow it.

One calorie equals one calorie, even if it’s made up of nothing nutritious. Experts point to Mark Haub from Kansas State University, who lost 27 pounds eating nothing but junk food on the “Twinkie Diet.” Says Marion Nestle, Ph.D.: “A calorie is a calorie no matter what it comes from. You can gain weight eating too much healthy food as well as unhealthy. From the standpoint of health, it’s better to eat your veggies…. It’s just a lot easier to overeat calories from junk food than healthy food. But it can be done.”

What do you think of these weight-loss lessons?

Would you even consider something as crazy as a Twinkie Diet?

Does anything surprise you?

 **Don’t miss listening to “Transforming Health” with host Brad King for the most evocative and informative up-to-the-minute interviews with leading health professionals – Live every Wednesday @ 12PM-PST/3PM-EST on VoiceAmerica.com – #1 internet radio station in North America.

Here’s the link: http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/1686/transforming-health

Fill in the blanks – Let’s F–K CANCER!

The ‘C’ Word or the ‘F’ word – which is worse? Being told to fuck off, or that you have cancer?  Let’s combine the two nasty words together to make a statement.

fuck1Too many people I know have been, or are being diagnosed with cancer.  My dear mom and a good friend died from having it, a close cousin and one of my best friends survived having it – but I swear it’s time to say FUCK IT!  It feels good to say that. 

Well at least it gets the message across.  Another way is by using Social MediaFacebook vs. Cancer

From Vancouver Magazine:

We asked our community and pulled a list of the most messed-up things people have said or done that they thought were being helpful.  Just about everyone has told someone that they have breast cancer/brain cancer/whatever and that person says to them “Oh yeah, I had an aunt/uncle/spouse/dog who had that. They died.”  It’s terrible, but people are really just trying to connect. That’s Yael Cohen, 26, founder of a campaign that raises awareness (and eyebrows for its blunt name). 

Fuck cancer is something you hear on oncology wards, in hospitals – it’s the sentiment you hear from patients and caregivers,” says the Vancouver native.  When her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, Cohen made her an expletive-blazoned T-shirt to articulate her grief and anger.  Response was massive.  “It was visceral, emotional.  People wanted so badly to talk about it, to hear her story and tell theirs or hug her or high-five her.”  It spawned a movement (Letsfcancer.com) pushing early detection (90 percent of cancers are treatable in Stage 1) and community involvement (“The support group is archaic; nobody wants to wait until 7 p.m. on a Wednesday to go to a church basement, so we’ve looked at technology – whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or a parking app or a sex app – to alter that code to benefit people”).  The wired generation is Cohen’s primary target, and they’re listening – the group’s Cancer Talk video had 55 million views in its first week, and celebrity endorsements come from KeSha and Perez Hilton. 

Next up; sharing the model: heart disease, poverty, who knows?  “We need to be the meta-leader who has an idea and gives it away to the community.  Giving it away is often the most powerful thing you can do.  Our generation gets that.”

Getting InvolvedOpen your mouth, not your wallet. Help us spread the word by sharing your social currency.  Re-blog this Post.

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, WE KNOW MORE THAN OUR PARENTS

Every kid thinks they know more than their parents, but for the first time in history, this might just be true. Because of the exponential growth in technology that has occured in our lifetime, Gen Y (Millennial Generation – birth years from the early 1980s to the early 2000s) teaches their parents more than any generation ever has. We teach them about social media, how to use their blackberries, and how to balance their diets.

SO WHY DON’T WE teach them something that can actually save their lives?  Visit website to find out more:

http://www.letsfcancer.com

 

 

In the Beauty Cabinet – getting “Lucky”

Literally….with Tarte’s LipSurgence™  collection.  tarte2What is it? A hybrid between a stain, a gloss and a rich balm, these non drying lip tints deliver sheer color while keeping lips hydrated and refreshed.  Best thing – the award-winning tint is goofproof. tarte5That’s because they go on like a lip gloss, stay on like a stain and hydrate like a dreamy balm. Added bonus: no pencil sharpener required. What’s not to love? 

Feeling Lust, Joy, Spirited, Amused, Moody, Charmed, Enchanted, Glitzy, Adored, etc? 

tarte1

There’s a color to match every skintone or at least your mood.

Available at Sephora.  $24.00

 

 

 

style – vegan bags

You don’t have to be a vegan to carry off faux leather.bag3Last week I came across these bags in a little Parisienne style boutique in Vancouver and thought they were made of leather.  The salesgirl informed me that they’re all made from recycled non-toxic vegan style leather.  Not only that but these sensible fair trade bags from Canadian company Lavishy are designed in Toronto and retail reasonably from  $65 – $105.  I liked the prints and neutral go-with-anything style background.

  Features:

bag2From their first ever unisex Viaggio collection (Italian for Travel) this messenger bag is fully padded and doubles as a laptop bag.

Made with certified toxic free & Eco-friendly durable vegan leather, this bag features beautiful prints both front, back and inside. Zipper pocket at the back of this bag will help you safely carry your wallet and important documents like passport close to you to reduce the trouble with pickpocketing.

Under the flip-open cover, the body of the bag is safe guided by the zipper closure. There is another zipper pocket front compartment on the front under the flip-open cover.

bag1This bag also features a giraffe at the back with an antique map of Africa.

Measurement: 33 x 24.5 x 10cm / 13 x 9.6 x 3.9inch.

Available at: Meuse boutique -2005 West 4th Ave., Vancouver   604.558.0712

While there make sure to check out the dresses.

Simple & Satisfying – Slow Cooking

PICTURE THIS: you throw everything into a pot — go run errands or even go to work for the day — and return to a perfectly-cooked dish. This is the beauty of a slow cooker: no hovering over a stove necessary.

slowcook4Limited oven space? Cooking dishes in a slow cooker frees up space for roasting or baking pre-dinner parties. You can adapt most traditional recipes for use of a slow cooker — just make sure to get the dust off first.

How to Adapt a Recipe to a Slow Cooker

For starters, when selecting recipes to transform, look for buzz words like braised or slow-roasted, or soups and stews. Most recipes that require finishing in the oven or any sort of baking make for great slow cooker candidates. That being said, you really can make anything in a slow cooker: pulled pork, soups, chilli, even yogurt. Get creative and experiment with your favorite recipes (you can find many online) while following these simple guidelines.

Prep your ingredients!

slowcook1As always, make sure to chop all your ingredients uniformly — so that they cook evenly.

Meat: You can use any type or cut of meat; however, tougher, cheaper cuts of meat work best. We recommend browning meat and draining away excess fat prior to adding to to slow cooker.

Chicken: Be weary of the cut of meat you are using — for instance, boneless chicken breasts take 2-3 hours and bone-in chicken breasts take 3-4 hours. The best cuts of chicken to use are chicken thighs, bone-in breasts, and drumsticks and wings, as opposed to boneless cuts.

Vegetables: Fresh will turn out better than frozen.

Rice: Pre-cook rice or par-boil. (And in their cookbook solely dedicated to slow cooker recipes, America’s Test Kitchen; recommends buying pre-cooked rice.) Personally I would just make a side of rice – it’s easy enough to do this and just add it to the recipe.

Aromatics: Sauteing onions and garlic prior to adding will help bring out the flavor.

Strategically place your ingredients within the pot.slowcook2

For soups and stews put vegetables on the bottom and sides of the slow cooker and place meat on top.  Then, add your liquid.

slowcook3Any liquid required for a recipe should be halved; for most (non-soup or stew) recipes 1 cup of liquid is enough (and make sure to season in proportion with your reduced liquid). Alternatively, if a recipe does not call for any liquid, add at least 1/2 a cup of water or broth. If you’ve by accident over-added liquid, simply leave the top of the slow cooker off and let it evaporate.

Regardless of the sequence in the original recipe, add these ingredients in the final 30 minutes of cooking:

  • Herbs and spices reduce the amount of seasoning or use whole herbs
  • Dairy — be careful as dairy can separate
  • Quick cooking vegetables like peas, corn or greens
  • Rice and pasta
  • Seafood

Practice safe slow cooking!

Bacteria grows over time and likes lower temperature environments. Cooks Illustrated says the key is to get the temperature up to and past 140 degrees (the temperature in which bacteria cannot grow) as quickly as possible. Be sure to use a thermometer when applicable.

Cooking Time – If your recipe requires a certain amount of time in the oven, it will require a longer cooking time in the crock pot. As a general rule, 1 hour of cooking at 350 °F equals 6 to 8 hours on a low setting or 4 to 6 hours on high.

Photos by James Ransom

This article originally appeared on Food52.com: How to Adapt a Recipe to a Slow Cooker