The Crockpot

I live in a part of California that has recently been termed “America’s Farm-to-Fork-Capital,” because our climate and location lends itself perfectly to a diverse and plentiful year-round harvest.  As one local restauranteur once put it, “We can talk to the guy who grew something, then we know how it grew, where it came from, that it’s safe, and it’s good for us.”  Fresh tomatoes in the summer, flavorful berries in the winter…what’s not to love?

Well sometimes, as all humans do, I find myself wondering if the grass—er, snow—is greener on the other side.  What’s it like to cozy up next to a fireplace as snowflakes drift in the frigid outside air?  Can snowmen make good friends?  Do snow days really exist?  What is a “real” winter like?

Earlier this week, we had a miniature version of a cold snap.  In reality, it was just a few sheets of rain and talk of snow in a city 20 minutes north.  Either way, it was enough for me to start thinking thick socks, piles of soft blankets, cold weather food, and finally…crockpot. 

It’s big, it's oblong, it's bulky, it's The Crockpot.  Does it deserve a space on our countertop?

I say yes.

“Slow” isn’t something our fast-paced society typically likes to be associated with but slow cooking with the crockpot is an entirely different story.  It’s really just a matter of tossing ingredients in the pot, turning the knob, and settling into a good book while the meal cooks itself. 

Try it.  Step into delicious, slow cooker territory using our recipes and following tutorial put together by The Kitchn.  Welcome!

  1. Clear some counter space.
  2. Prepare the recipe.
  3. Put the ingredients in the slow cooker.
  4. Put the lid on (told you the steps were basic).
  5. Set the cooking time.
  6. Walk away and let it cook.

Crockpot recipes from Life and Health:

2-Ingredient Applesauce: About as whole foods and hands off as a recipe can get.  Make a big batch and serve it warm on top of toast with some peanut butter…or straight out of the jar.

Sweet or Savory Polenta: Just imagine digging a spoon into that creamy mellow yellow.  Yum.

Caramelized Onions: Caramelized onions are an incredible addition to…pretty much everything.  Stir them into mashed potatoes or wilted greens, sprinkle them on top of a pizza, or use them in one of our staff's favorite recipes: Mujaddara (Lebanese lentils)

Roasted Veggies: Are you getting the point by now?  Crockpots are marvelous!  Who knew you could recreate painstaking recipes like caramelized onions and roasted veggies!

Beans & Rice: Everyone, everyone loves beans and rice, especially when they’re done as easily as this.

Baked Potatoes: You can top these potatoes with a number of our recipes, including Chickpea & Corn Chili, The Perfect Guacamole, Scrambled Tofu, or Raw Cheese Sauce.

Recipes from Crockpot lovers from around the web:

Homemade Sourdough Bread via Practical Stewardship: “It is amazing, but the crock-pot can be used to make just about anything that can be baked.   It just started getting hot here in the Pacific Northwest a few weeks ago (it’s August as I write).  I have not been wanting to use the oven (no surprise), so I have been using my crock-pot even more for creating unconventional crock-pot food like granola and bread.”

Soup Stock via Savvy Vegetarian: “Guaranteed to elevate your cooking to gourmet status, ridiculously cheap to make compared to canned soup stock or bouillon cubes.”

Curry Coconut Vegetable Stew via Bites and Sights: “That could be taking it a little far, but this dish has the hearty consistency of what you might expect in a thick, meaty stew. It is almost impossible for me to believe that this is a vegan recipe.  It tastes too delicious!  The combined base of coconut milk, vegan butter, and vegetable broth combine perfectly into a rich and creamy consistency might trick you into thinking it is something that it is not.”

Black Bean Soup via Babble: “I’m pretty smitten with black bean soup – all kinds. And so when I came across Smitten Kitchen’s black bean soup made with dry beans in the slow cooker, I had to give it a spin. There are plenty of people who aren’t aware that you can cook dry beans this way – just tossed into the slow cooker with plenty of liquid – without presoaking them.”

Naked Apple Butter via Oh She Glows: “It’s also naked. Minimal spices, no sweetener. The blonde roast of apple butters! Most apple butter recipes call for 2-4 cups of sugar, but I wanted to make a batch without any sugar. Yes, sugar does help increase the shelf-life and also thicken, but my version seemed to turn out fine.”

Brownies via Practical Stewardship: “Like my Black Bean Brownies Recipe, I love that this recipe doesn’t use any grains, but instead, nut butter.  I still can’t believe you can get a fluffy, brownie-like consistency without flour or eggs!”


About the Author

Sarah Jung

Sarah Jung is the associate director of Life and Health Network but wears a plethora of hats as editor, communications director, and sometimes photographer. Unrelated to Life and Health, Sarah is the country director and founding member of Oon Jai Foundation, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower people living in developing countries through friendship and working, learning, and mentoring side-by-side with the locals. In her spare time, Sarah likes to read, write, and find mountains to climb.

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