By G. E. Shuman
I know what you’re likely thinking; what kind of a crackpot would write a newspaper column about a crock-pot? Truthfully, I guess I don’t have an answer to that question, and, since this isn’t a recipe page or something from a cooking channel, the crack about being a crackpot is probably fitting. In any case, this column is dedicated, this week, to the lowly crock-pot.
Everyone has one of these things, and if everyone doesn’t, they really should get one. We have two of them at our house, even though that may seem a bit extravagant. One cost about $20, and the other was sold to my wife by a friend of hers, in brand new condition, for $1, for some reason. The crock-pot was what was in brand new condition, not necessarily my wife’s friend. (That may have seemed somewhat unkind and I’m sorry that I said it. Oh well, too late now.)
Since I do most of the cooking at our house, I was introduced to the use of crock-pots years ago. I have to say that they are about the most convenient things in the world for a guy like me, who knows little (or nothing) about fine cooking, to use. I just throw something in there, like a roast, a chicken, ingredients for my special homemade chili, meatballs, or almost anything else, put the cover on, and presto, it comes out perfectly done every time. In fact, using a crock-pot to make a meal is about the only thing in life that I haven’t had some success at screwing up, so far.
I think that crock-pots were originally designed for people like me, who are not, as I said, gourmet cooks. Both of our pots have just one little knob on the front, which simply says Off, Low, High, and Keep Warm. How much easier could it get than that? Off is pretty much self-explanatory and Low and High are not that hard to figure out either. Keep Warm is just a friendly Vermont greeting, I think. I’m not even convinced that the setting matters much anyway. With either the high or low setting I can throw some pork in there in the morning, dump barbecue sauce all over it, and by evening have perfect pulled-pork sandwiches for dinner. I can also make mac and cheese or my special beef stew, even in the summer, without heating up the kitchen, or an entire chicken dinner without ever going near the stove or watching to be sure nothing burns.
I’m also confident that a crock-pot uses very little electricity. I don’t have statistics, but I would wager, if I was a pot wagering man, that it costs less to cook a meal in one than it does to make my coffee and English muffin in the morning, especially since our toaster is slower than death and I always have to push the handle down at least twice. This claim could be an exaggeration, but you know me better than that.
So, that’s my column in praise of crock-pots. If you have one somewhere in the deep dark recesses of your cookware cupboard, haul it out, plug it in, and make something delicious for dinner. Easy-peasy. If you don’t have one, get to Stuff-Mart and get one. Your family will think you’re awesome. Mine thinks I actually know how to cook.