The Essential Crock Pot

The crock pot is a kitchen essential — in any size kitchen.  Luckily, these gems of small kitchen appliances come in a variety of sizes, designed for a single person, a couple, or a larger family.

7 qt. crock potPersonally, I use the 7-quart crock pot.  I prefer it because I can cook enough to enjoy a meal (or two) and still have enough to put into the freezer for emergency evenings when I am too tired to cook but come home starving!

 

1 and 1/2 quart crock potYounger singles or older widows or widowers may prefer a smaller size, large enough to cook a single meal (or maybe two).

Of course, there is just about every size in between!

Why Is the Crock Pot Essential?

In today’s world when many of us work long hours and come home tired it is wonderful to open the front door to the smell of dinner — ready to eat!

PROS:

  • The crock pot is a time saver for sure!  For those of us who are willing to get up a few minutes earlier in the mornings, an hour or more can be saved in the evenings.  I love the idea of tossing everything into a single pot (less clean-up) and having it do the work.
  • It is the one small appliance that can be used for a variety of foods, everything from the pot roast to a pork tenderloin to chicken.  Unlike a rice cooker, there is no limit to what can be cooked in the crock pot.  When I cook a pork loin I toss in a small bag of carrots and add a few peeled and chunk-cut potatoes.
  • College students can use a crock pot with ease.  We all know how much our children love to cook when they first leave home.  There is little that can go wrong with a crock pot meal.
  • A smaller crock pot can cook just the right amount for a single adult or a widow or widower.  Often, these groups will not take the time to prepare a “real” meal in the evenings.  With a crock pot they can prepare a single meal or enough for several meals.
  • Families on the run can get the kids to all their practices and back home to a sit-down dinner with ease.
  • Clean up is as easy as preparation, especially if you use those wonderful, throw away after use, slow cooker liners.
  • Can keep leftovers in the crock for a day or two in the refrigerator.
  • Easy storage either on counter top or in cabinet.
  • Plenty of recipes online or specific crock pot recipe books.  Here is a favorite link to crock pot recipes — and other recipes, as well.

CONS:

  • Getting started.  I will admit that I had a crock pot for a year or more before I actually tried it.  My first one was a gift and stayed in the box until I was moving.  When I got to the new house I decided to toss a recipe into it while I unpacked.  The reward was worth it!

What made getting started so hard?  Simply put, I had never used one and had my doubts.  I just could not get my head around a one pot dinner.  One use and that was cleared up.  Like most of us, I thought of the crock pot as another kitchen gadget or appliance that would be saved for a later date, along with the pasta maker, the rice cooker, the waffle maker, and various other small appliances.

My only regret is that it took me so long to actually take the crock pot out of the box and put it to use.