Cooking Can be a Crock

Crock pots are one of the most amazing inventions of the entire 20th Century. Forget the automobile, the television or even the computer. Any thing that allows you to cook a family meal without being in the house has my vote. The crock pot rules!

The only problem I have with crock pots is that I don’t have enough of them. Right now I’m getting ready for a party (technically I have been all night long) and both of my crock pots are cooking away. If I had just two more crock pots, I’d start some desserts or some sides. The world should know that a crock pot is good for more than roast and stew.

1. Bake a cake. Crock pots make surprisingly moist cakes, but don’t try to serve it with a knife. Mix the cake according to directions. Spray oil around the crock pot before pouring the batter in the crock pot. Let cook on low for three to four hours then top with your favorite syrup (fudge for chocolate cakes and fruit syrup for white cakes). Use a spoon to dig down through all the amazing goodness.

2. Warm the guest with a fruit compost. Layer sliced fresh apples, peaches and pineapple (about two cups each) in a crock pot. Pour about ½ cup of honey over the fruit. Top with a couple of lemon slices and a cinnamon stick. Let cook on low for about 3 or 4 hours. Add sliced banana just before serving. You can include any fruits that you feel hold up well during cooking (blue berries) or go well with this combination. Experiment with sweetness, variety, and serving options (serve over ice cream, over fresh blondies, or alone with a fresh cup of coffee).

3. Kick up the sides. Don’t just start your roast before you leave for work. Get a second crock pot and start your sides as well. Mushroom rice is a great for pairing with a slow cooked roast. Combine a can of beef consommé, French onion soup, and 2 ¼ cups of water. Pour into the crock pot. Add ½ cup of butter, and two cups of rice (equal parts wild rice and brown rice make a rich combination). Cook on low for 7 hours.

4. Don’t forget the vegetables. Cut your favorite vegetables (or those that are available fresh right now) into small cubed pieces. Include potatoes (about 4 cups) that have been cubed as well. Combine with ½ cup of onion, 1 clove of garlic, ½ tsp of sugar, ½ tsp of dill weed and a dash of salt and pepper. Let cook on low for about 5 hours until the vegetables are tender.

There is so much that can be done with the crock pot. Remember that low and slow is the best way to utilize the crock pot. If you are in a tight, kicking the temperature up to high will decrease the cooking time by about half.

Another great invention that goes with the crock pots are these new crock pot liners. Now clean up is as easy as the cooking.

Drag out your crock pot and do some experimenting with your favorite casserole dishes. You may find that you fall in love with these wonderful contraptions. I know that just as soon as I can clear out some storage space, I’m adding to my collection of crock pots. Dinner will be a simple as a flip of a switch. Now, if I can just make it to dinner with all the aromas wafting through the house.

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