There is something to be said for cooking low and slow

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Hot to trot for Instapot! I feel like that is the mantra these days! It seems you can make anything from eggs to rice to desserts perfecto in a matter of minutes. We are definitely in an Instapot craze! My Japanese friends have been on me to get an Instapot. They look super cool, but I am dragging my feet. I am still old-school and have a Crockpot. Do I really need another gadget to clean and store? This month we are going to slow things down a bit with my old-school friend, the slow cooker.

 The story goes that in Lithuania in the 1800s Jewish wives would mix up a stew called cholent and take to bakeries on Friday night. Bakery ovens would be cooling down from the workday, so the smart women they were, would use them to cook the stew overnight so it would be ready for the Sabbath. Slow cookers of today were invented and patented in 1940 by Irving Nachumsohn, a second generation of Russian immigrant. Irving was passionate about inventing and problem solving, creating the slow cooker as an alternative to turning on ovens during the heat of summer. The Smithsonian Magazine goes on to state that for some reason the slow cooker did not reach the market until 1950 as Naxon’s Beanery. Sounds like he needed a new marketing team! Please note that Naxon had changed his name from Nachumsohn. It was not until 1970 that slow cooker history took a positive turn as Naxon retired and sold his company. Some super cool home economists took over in the Rival test kitchens and created some new magic for the slow cooker. The rebranded Crockpot complete with professional-tested recipes was unveiled at the Chicago National Houseware Show in 1971 and the rest is history. A 1974 avocado-toned Crockpot has even taken a seat in American food culture beside other icons such as Tupperware in the National Museum of American History!

 I remember my mom’s first crockpot like it was yesterday. It was red orange, had a glass lid and 3 temps, low, high, and off. My mom states she probably got it to be able to put in a roast or stew in the morning, go to work and “Wala!” dinner was served when she got home. Crockpots had come on the scene when working moms were asking for conveniences to get dinner on the table. They also gave advantage to serving things hot when stoves/ovens were not available. My 4-H club in the late 70s would host a concession stand out of the back of a pick-up truck camper at the local horse show. Sloppy joes were the main attraction and were served out of none other than the orange-red crockpot! 

Today, my crockpot still comes with a glass lid but unlike the crockpots of the 70s it is temperature programmable and the crock is removable for easy cleaning. I, like most peeps, profile all slow cookers as crockpots no matter the brand. Slow cookers sales cannot compete with Instapot but are still selling steadily with over 38 million in the last 3 years combined. 

No matter the plethora of recipes found on websites, blogs and Pinterest, Taste of Home’s most sharable slow cooker recipe continues to be Flavorful Pot Roast. I saw some online name-calling, calling peeps who use slow cookers lazy. I call them smart. Slow cookers have made meal making and keeping things warm easier and why would we not want to take advantage of that. A huge thanks to Irving this month as we find delight in slowing it down a notch during National Slow Cooker Month.

Eat well and Healthy,

Shelly

Crock-Pot Beefy Mac and Cheese adapted from Spendwithpennies.com

1 tsp. onion powder

½ tsp. dry mustard powder

½ tsp. pepper

1 cups pepper jack shredded

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

10.5 oz. healthy cream of chicken soup

½ c non-fat Greek plain yogurt

½ c mayonnaise

1-pound ground beef

4 tbsp. butter

1 cup milk

2 cups uncooked macaroni noodles, equal to 1/2 lb.

 Brown ground beef. Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Layer first browned ground beef.

 Boil the macaroni noodles for 5 minutes, you do not want them entirely cooked through, as they will do more cooking in the slow cooker. Layer noodles on top of the ground beef. 

 Layer rest of ingredients except the milk in the slow cooker, topping with butter chunks. No need to stir. Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 3, stirring once or twice and keeping an eye on the consistency of the pasta.

 Add up to a cup of warm milk if desired for a creamier consistency.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Crockpot Crack Chicken therecipecritic.com

2 packets dry ranch seasoning

2 8-z. cream cheese

6 slices bacon cooked and crumbled

1 cup cheddar cheese

chopped green onions for garnish

3 lbs. boneless skinless Chicken Breasts

 In a slow cooker add the chicken to the bottom. Sprinkle with dry ranch seasoning. Top with cream cheese. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours long.

 Shred the chicken with two forks. Top with bacon and sprinkle with cheese. Cover until melted. Serve on buns, over rice and garnish with green onions.

 Ways to serve Crack Chicken… Over rice, toasted Hamburger buns, pitas or croissants, over mashed potatoes, inside baked potatoes, crackers & veggies, wrapped in a Tortilla, lettuce or on top of a salad, Pasta

Slow-cooker Egg Noodle Lasagna whatsfordinner.com

1/2-pound ground beef

1/2-pound ground Italian sausage

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

4 cups marinara sauce, divided

16 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese

16 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

4 oz + Parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 cup + fresh parsley, minced,

1 (16-ounce) package frozen Reames Homestyle Egg Noodles

Heat large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add beef and sausage, breaking up with wood spoon. Stir frequently until browned. Drain cooked meat on paper towels, then return to hot skillet.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and parsley. Grease inside of slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Spread remaining cup of marinara sauce on bottom of slow cooker. Arrange portion of frozen egg noodles in single layer over marinara. Spoon meat sauce over noodles, then add a layer of cheese mixture. Continue layering in the same order, finishing with a layer of cheese mixture. Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with fresh parsley & parmesan. Serves 4-6

Slow Cooker Apple Walnut Bread Pudding thegunnysack.com

2 tbsp granulated sugar

4 tsp ground cinnamon, divided

2 cups diced Granny Smith apples

4 eggs

1 cup half-n-half

1/2 cup apple sauce

1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

8 cups cubed day-old bread

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

Powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream, and caramel ice cream topping for serving, optional

 Mix granulated sugar and two teaspoons ground cinnamon. Sprinkle it over the diced apples and stir to coat. Set aside.

 In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, half-n-half, apple sauce, caramel ice cream topping, brown sugar, vanilla extract, two teaspoons of cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

 Make the bottom layer in a greased slow cooker by spreading four cups of the cubed bread on the bottom. Sprinkle with one cup of the diced apples and a quarter cup of the chopped walnuts. Pour half of the egg mixture over the bottom layer Make the top layer by adding the remaining ingredients in the same order. Gently stir everything to coat the bread with the egg mixture.

 Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

 Uncover and cook for 10 minutes to help absorb extra liquid.

 Serve warm with powdered sugar, vanilla ice cream and caramel topping. Serves 8 Notes: Noday-old bread, cut bread into cubes and bake them at 325 degrees for about 5 minutes on an ungreased baking sheet.

One comment

  1. Your history is almost true. My dad was Irving Naxon. He was a brilliant inventor. The earliest rendition of the crockpot was the Naxon Beanery, and was sold exclusively to lunch counters and coffee shops. It was also sold during the 1950s via Sears and Wards.

    The initial recipes actually came with the Beanery or Flavor Crock as is was later known. They were given to the folks at Rival. who expanded upon them. I actually have those old recipe flyers.

    Always best to go to accurate and original sources rather than Wikipedia or other journalists when researching.

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