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Can anyone suggest a good slow cooker cookbook that assumes preparing food from scratch and/or has a good discussion of creating one's own dishes with the slow cooker?
From the back cover: "...offers a bounty of recipes you can use to prepare a tremendous variety of foods in your slow cooker using fresh, wholesome ingredients rather than packaged convenience foods." Sounds like exactly what you want. I hope you can get it in Austria. I'd be willing to ship it to you if you can not get it. Send me a PM if I can be of help. And let me know what you think if and when you get it.
p.s. I do not work for these guys. I just am kind of a natural promoter. Sorry if this is off putting; I truly am just trying to be helpful.
The basic principle is to make sure you have enough liquid around, more than you would for the same dish in a oven/stove top, to fully cover the meat.
Other than that just chuck stuff in and let it cook. I tend to brown meat first, but that's about it. I've made lasagne, chilli con carne, soups, stews and curries by doing so. No disasters.
I haven't had the space for a slow cooker in my New York apartment so I only did a bit of braising on the stove, but I am very excited to finally get one in California.
Any new recommendations as far as cookbooks go?
I personally like the Slow Cooker Revolution by America's Test Kitchens. Everything I've cooked from that has been terrific but it is definitely not a 'dump and go' type cookbook. There tends to be extensive prep work but that seems to be the secret to having slow cooker meals taste like something cooked from the stove or oven.
Hope that helps. You are coming into slow cooking at the right time - the high end cookers have become so much more advanced than only a few years ago. Good luck!