One of the first recipes I cooked and, yes, it was in the slow cooker, was a beef stroganoff. I thought the name sounded so fancy that I was especially proud of myself. As a new cook, something that cooked itself while I was at work was a revolutionary idea.

I was reminded of that dish when I saw one of the old avocado green crockpots at a recent garage sale. I was tempted to buy it for sentimental reasons alone, but I didn’t. Still, the memories of those early dishes reminded me just how far we’ve come. Today, there are seasoning packets to duplicate flavors quickly and conveniently. Recipe ideas have evolved beyond what anyone could have imagined in those years and appliances are equipped with all sorts of ways to make things easier for cooks.

There are certain family recipes that should not be changed. It’s what makes them special. But there are others that can be experimented with. My first stroganoff recipe is among them. Enjoy the cooking memories, but savor some of the new ideas.