Monday, December 29, 2008

"Never Amount to a Hill of Beans..."

Carolyn Green, a friend in Kansas City, sent me a Web site of all crock pot recipes the other day and just the other month, Richie had bought us a new crock pot. It's much bigger than the old one (which finally died after 30-some years,) is oval-shaped and has two speeds.

Richie likes to use it; I don't. His "Hamburger Stroganoff" requires the hamburger to be cooked before putting it in and, really, what's the point of that? All you're doing is keeping it hot all day long. (But it did work well keeping hors d'oeuvres warm at our open house.)

It occurred to me that crock pots had to have evolved from Boston baked bean pots -- remember them? A dark-brown colored pottery pot? Squatty-looking with earred handles and a lid? Beans have long been a staple for American non-Astors and Rockefellers and the Brits who fancy theirs on slices of toast. The Irish breakfast features beans, eggs, blood sausage and bacon.

I never did find confirmation of my theory; what I did discover was that canned beans (a staple) were limited in the 1960s. If you wanted baked beans, you made them yourself. Naxon Utilities did develop a "Beanery" which became the crock pot or slow cooker circa 1971. Today Rival is the leading brand.

The theory is that long, slow cooking will render less-than-tender meats into something tasty. The low temperature is 165 degrees; high is 190-200 degrees. Yes, long and slow and then some!

Manufacturers recommend putting food in it in the morning, going gaily off to work and coming home to a nice hot dinner. I cannot stress strongly enough what an idiotic idea this is. Never, ever leave your house with an unattended, plugged in and turned on appliance. It may well be hot when you get home, but it won't be your dinner.

If you plan to stay home while it's cooking, visit for a variety of crock pot recipes - Cheerio! Pip! Pip! Have at it!

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