lot of us have a very efficient and time saving appliance sitting high on
a kitchen shelf collecting dust. What is it? It's the crock- pot! I have
taken mine down from that high shelf and have actually purchased another
one because I have found them to be so helpful. How are they helpful? Read
There are a lot of days that it's very hard for me to get a meal on the table either because I lack the motivation or because we are busy. Lacking motivation stems from being tired at dinnertime. I have had an active day and by 5:00 p.m., I'm just plain worn out and am not in the mood to cook. Because of this, we end up eating fast food more often than we should or we eat a meal that tastes like there was no effort put into it.
I have found a solution to this problem and that is the crock-pot! In the morning when I am ambitious and creative, I prepare the basis of our meals by adding meat, liquids, seasonings or other ingredients to the crock-pot. Then at dinnertime, all I have to do is prepare side dishes such as heat and serve rolls and a green salad. Sometimes I even prepare the side dishes early too so that way I have hardly anything to do at mealtime when I'm lacking energy. If you have two crock-pots, use them both at the same time with the main dish in one and a side dish in the other.
Another benefit of the crock-pot is that it doesn't heat up the kitchen. This can be valuable in the summer but don't limit it to summertime cooking. It's an any-season appliance. You'll be pleased smelling the delicious aroma of your food cooking all day long in the fall, winter and spring. You can even cook desserts in them such as apple dumplings.
For those of you that work away from home, the crock-pot is safe enough to leave turned on low all day. When you get home, most of your dinner is cooked and ready to eat!
You can buy crock-pots at any retail store for around $30.00 for the average size and more or less for a bigger or smaller one. But why spend $30.00 when they are abundant in thrift stores and yard sales? I purchased my second one at a thrift store for $2.99! If you decide to purchase one at a thrift store or yard sale, be sure to plug it in and see if it heats up.
Here is one of my favorite crock-pot meals.
Pork Ribs and Kraut
Brown desired amount of pork spareribs in a frying pan over medium heat; season with seasoning salt and place in crock-pot. Stir sauerkraut juice into the pan you browned the ribs in and stir with a fork to loosen brown bits. Add this juice to the crock-pot along with desired amount of sauerkraut. Set crock-pot to low and cook 6-8 hours.
For a side dish to this meal, I make homemade rolls using the bread machine to make dough, or I just serve plain old bread and butter. A crusty loaf of French bread would be good too.
This would make a great side dish to the meal above.
Peel and cut desired amount of apples into 1/2 - 1 inch chunks. Place the chunks in your crock-pot and add about 1/2 cup water. Set the crock-pot to low and cook 4-6 hours or until the apple chunks are very soft. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency and add sugar to taste if desired.
If you need crock-pot recipes, the Internet can be a wonderful resource! You can do a search on a search engine for `crock-pot' and that should give you a lot of websites to visit to look for crock-pot recipes. Or you can sign up for a crock-pot e-mail list. This is a list that e-mails you and everyone else on the list messages from other members that will be recipes or information about crock-pots. Another place to find crock-pot recipes is in books. These can be found at thrift stores, yard sales or, brand new from bookstores.
I hope this article brings you the inspiration to dust off your crock- pot!
Monica Resinger is
editor/founder of Homemakers Journal newsletter.
Hundreds of inexpensive and easy to make gift ideas
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