Rediscovering The Slow Cooker

ng The Slow Cooker

I’ve re-discovered Crock pots™.  Actually, the correct term is “slow cookers”.  Crock pot is the trademark name of a slow cooker, a name owned by the Rival Company, but just as “Kleenex” is synonymous with tissues, “Crock pot” is synonymous with slow-cookers. I mean, who actually says “I’m going to fix a slow-cooker of beans”? No, they say, “I’m fixing a crock pot of beans”.

With the recent publication of several new slow-cooker cookbooks, I have been re-discovering my slow-cookers . They’ve gotten a lot of use over the years. Before I retired, whenever I needed a big pot of my ‘famous’ turkey taco meat to take to work for a potluck, I lugged my Slow-cooker to the office. In recent years, I’ve found it handy for making applesauce, pear-lemon relish—even apple or peach butter! The thing that makes it so easy to do homemade fruit butters in a Slow-cooker, is that they don’t burn or scorch—a frequent occurrence when you are making butters on top of a stove—despite constant stirring.

A few Christmasses ago, I gave myself a new Slow-cooker (actually, it is a crock-pot!), oval-shaped, five and a half quarts – despite the fact that I already had two old Crock pots in the cupboard…but neither one of them was as big as this one. I like the fact that the new models have a removable ‘crock’, which makes for easy cleaning.  Also, if you get a recipe underway the night before, like stuffed peppers, you can stick the crock in the frig overnight, then get the whole works cooking in the morning before you leave for work.

Is there anything as divine as the smell of dinner cooking when you come home from work at night?  If we can’t have maids, slow-cookers must be the next best thing.  Well, all of this was true in my working days but now being retired – my slower cookers still get a good workout, especially if I expect to be very busy the next day.

If you are interested in knowing what slow cooker cookbooks I have on hand and use –

Well, first there is Rick Rodgers’ “READY AND WAITING” published in 1992, I also have “Crockery Cookery” by Mabel Hoffman, published in 1975 by H.P. Books.  (It’s fun to look at the photos of all the slow cookers in vogue twenty five years ago – but more importantly, recipes for slow cookers never go out of style! – what worked 25 years ago will work just as well today).

Woman’s Day published “CROCKERY CUISINE” by Sylvia Vaughn Thompson, back in 1977 and more recently (in 2000) Good Books published “Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook/Feasting with your Slower Cooker” by Dawn Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Good.

More recently, I acquired a Gooseberry Patch cookbook called “Slow Cooker Recipes”

And Gooseberry Patch followed that up in June, 2008, with “SUPER FAST SLOW COOKING” which is a collection of slow cooker recipes that require only FIVE ingredients. Another in my collection is “COMPLETE SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK” by Carol Heding Munson, published in 2003, and I also have “Busy People’s Slow Cooker Cookbook”, by Dawn Hall–the latter is an entire cookbook made up of recipes requiring 7 ingredients or less, also published in 2003.

Whenever anyone asks me which are my favorites (and it’s hard to pin me down) – but I will admit that the Gooseberry Patch cookbooks are among my favorites. Also, if you submit a favorite recipe and Gooseberry Patch decides to print it in one of their cookbooks – you will receive a free copy. I have several of their cookbooks that I have gotten free, this way.

I’ve searched on the Internet from time to time and found a few more recipes to add to my collection—but truthfully, most of my slow-cooker recipes aren’t recipes from a cookbook. My favorite is as easy as pie: A tri-tip roast, a package of Lipton onion soup mix, water and a jigger of Kitchen Bouquet™.  When I would get home from work, I’d add potatoes and carrots and maybe some fresh sliced mush rooms. By the time Jeopardy! came on, dinner was ready. And the truth is, almost anything you cook in a pot on top of the stove can be cooked in a slow-cooker. Even meatloaf!

We’re all busy—what woman do you know who doesn’t have a full day? And since retiring six years ago, I’ve found myself busier than ever (a common observation made by all the other retirees I know).  Cooking a meal at the end of the day sometimes takes a little more energy than any of us has to offer.

But I want to share with you a conversation I had with our friend Luther one day a long time ago.  He came by and I invited him to stay for dinner.

“How can you cook a full course meal after working all day?” he asked.

“Aha!” I responded, “I had this going in the crock-pot all day”.

“Tell me,” he asked. “Do you and Bob sit down and eat dinner like this every night?”

And I said yes, we do.  I am a firm believer that families should sit down, together, and have at least one meal a day together.  I guess this is a legacy from my mother; in my family, we all sat down together for dinner (called Supper in Cincinnati). It was a given. Mom made supper; we all sat down together—said grace—and ate together. (Then the kids got to wash dishes—my sister and brother and I learned all the words to the latest hit songs, while washing and drying dishes and studying the 15 cent song book. My sister washed, my brother Jim dried, and it was my job to put away.

(I am still working at ‘cooking small’ since I am now cooking only for two most of the time).  I believe in family meals. My Crock-pot™ makes it a bit easier.

(originally published in Inky Trail News. Edited & re-printed with permission.

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