If you’re confused like I was, let’s start off with a little clarification of crockpots and slow cookers. A crockpot is a slow cooker. Not every slow cooker is a crockpot. As a matter of fact, crockpot should be Crock-Pot, the brand name of a line of slow cookers. Calling all slow cookers “crockpot” is like calling all facial tissues Kleenex. It’s just a habit we’ve gotten into.
My favorite slow cooker recipes are from Whole Foods for the Whole Family, La Leche League International’s member-created cookbook, edited by Roberta Bishop Johnson and first published in 1981.
According to my notes in the margin of WFWF, I first made these easy slow cooker beans in April 1991. Every meal doesn’t have to include meat. This main dish is simple and goes well with bread (see below) and a tossed salad. This makes a lot of beans, so freeze leftovers to use in future recipes.
2 cups dried beans
4-5 cups hot water
1-2 onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
Combine ingredients in your slow cooker and cook on high for 6-8 hours or on low for 10-12 hours.
A variation would be to add 3 tablespoons molasses, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon ground ginger or chili powder, 1 cup tomato sauce and 1 green pepper, chopped.
GRANNY’S EASY “BABY’S HERE” STEW
This is actually an adaptation of Granny’s recipe. Made life simpler when dealing with babies, toddlers and preschoolers.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 pounds beef stew meat in 1″ cubes*
2 cups canned tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups green beans*
1 large onion*
1 turnip, pared and cubed (or 1 additional potato)
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/4 c. cooking sherry
2-3 teaspoons herbes de provence (or herbs of your choosing)
4 cups cooked brown rice
*If you don’t see what you’re looking for, ask someone in the meat department to cut up the beef for you. The more kids you have with you, the more willing they’ll be to do it.
*If you’re feeling ambitious, by all means use fresh vegetables that you clean and cut up yourself. An alternative would be to use frozen vegetables, and some supermarkets produce departments even offer bags of fresh vegetables cut up and ready to cook.
Brown the meat in oil over medium heat. Combine in slow-cooker with rest of ingredients, except rice, and starting early in the morning, cook on low for 10 hours and your supper will be ready right on time. Serve with cooked brown rice.
If you prepare all the vegetables the day before, you can mix everything together in the slow cooker. Pull it out of the refrigerator in the morning and let it set at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before turning it on.
COULDN’T BE EASIER SLOW-COOKER BREAD
I really appreciate this recipe now because it only requires 5 minutes of kneading time. I love to knead bread, but my hands don’t appreciate it so much anymore. Total prep time? Only about 15 minutes!
1 tablespoon yeast
11/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk (or buttermilk)
1/2-cup rolled oats
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons honey (I recommend a honey native to your area)
1/4-cup wheat germ
2-3/4 cups whole wheat flour
While your slow cooker preheats on high, grease a deep metal or glass bowl that will fit in the slow cooker; or grease a 1-pound coffee can.
Dissolve yeast in water. Combine with milk, oats, salt, oil, honey, egg and wheat germ.
Add flour and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
Turn dough immediately into bowl or can. Cover loosely with foil. In bottom of slow cooker, place 1/2-cup water and a trivet or some crumpled foil. Place can or bowl on this; cover and bake on high for 3 hours. Top of bread will not necessarily brown.
Just think, fresh bread on a hot day without turning on the oven and heating up the kitchen! This is a simple enough recipe to include small children or grandchildren in the preparation process.