Most people get excited about their slow cooker as soon as the weather gets cold. They turn to it when they're excited to start making winter stews and warming soups. Me? I direct my initial excitement for cozy winter food at the stove, braises on the fire and baked casseroles in the oven. The slow cooker comes out in my house around mid-January, when I've had it with winter and tire of tending to slow cooked meals. My cue is when I start dreaming of bright green salads, fresh produce, and vibrant flavors.