Join me in wishing your crock-pot a happy belated birthday. About a week ago, this slow cooking device turned 50. Well, technically the device itself is a little over 80, but its incarnation with the name crock-pot began in 1971.
I’ll confess that I primarily use my crock-pot for parties. I’ve owned the brand name and something similar that doubled as a griddle. Both work similarly. They cook food at a slow pace.
My first crock pot lived in my college dorm room. We used it to make cheese dip out of cheddar cheese soup and RotelR tomatoes and peppers that we greedily dipped original Doritos into. While the thought of that cheese dip now makes me cringe, I miss the buttery flavor of those original tortilla chips.
Next, came the wedding gift crock pots. I think I received three. One was huge. I still have it. As much as I like one pot meals, you’d think I would have put a lot of miles on these pots through the years. I haven’t, which seems odd since I love one pot meals. I think it’s because I view one pot meals as something quick I can throw together last minute. Crock-pot cooking requires forethought.
Perhaps that’s why many of us opt for the convenience of fast food rather than the convenience of a crock-pot. But there’s no question that crock-pot cooking can be healthy and easily adapted to any dietary restriction.
As a recent convert to braised beef, which I’ve discovered is much like my grandmother’s pressure-cooked beef, I increasingly appreciate slow cooking. It’s great for pulled pork, ham & beans, chili, and vegetable soup. The home economists who developed recipes for the crock-pot swear it’s the best way to bake cheesecake.
It can also be used to bake pineapple upside down cake, chocolate lava cake, banana nut cake, and breakfast foods like cinnamon rolls, French toast casserole, and scrambled or boiled eggs. Clearly, I have not allowed my crock-pot to fulfill its potential.
Like any small electric appliance, part of that is due to access. A crock-pot is the kind of thing that needs a place to live that’s convenient or I forget to use it. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess and mine lives near the back of a shelf in a closet in the dining room.
It seems fitting to attempt a cake in the crock-pot to celebrate its birthday. Although I’d love to test that claim that it makes the best cheesecake. And I used to ask for lemon meringue pie for my birthday, so birthday cake doesn’t have to be birthday cake!
Anyway, I’d like to salute Irving Naxon who patented the Naxon Beanery that became the crock-pot. He created an efficient way to slow-cook food that costs only pennies a day to operate and does not heat up the house. His machine may not have been a commercial success until it was bought by Rival, but without him we might not be able to buy one of the 12 million units that are still sold each year – 50 years later.
So, thank you Irving Naxon and happy belated birthday, crock-pot!