Crock-Pot Cooking

Let this simple tool bless you with more time for the things that matter most.

Do you need completely effortless cooking ideas for your small group of guys who are tired of eating pizza, or for that couples Bible study that meets an hour after you get home from work? Consider crock pot cooking.

A crock pot is a countertop electrical appliance that makes one-pot meals. Because this low temperature slow cooker takes hours to make a meal and requires no supervision, you can dump in your ingredients at breakfast and have enough home-cooked goodness to serve an army in the evening. Crock pots can also make feeding your small group more economical. Because they cook over such a long period of time, they are great for turning tough, cheaper cuts of meat into tender, tasty meals. So do away with the perpetual menu of spaghetti with meatless sauce and cheap take out.

You can pick up an inexpensive crock pot at most department stores, and even at a large drug stores. The Hamilton Beach 3-Quart Slow Cooker with lid, latch, and travel case is available at Wal-Mart.com for only $14.87. Other crock pots may vary from $20 to $45, but there is very little difference between one style and another. So as long as your pot is big enough to fit the amount of food you want to make, it should do the trick.

In general, three quarts will make 4 or 5 servings, and a six-quart pot will feed 8 to 10. For incredibly easy clean up, try using crock-pot liners, such as Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. These heat resistant, disposable plastic bags can be found in the paper goods isle of your grocery store.

The concept of crock pot cooking is as old as burying a Dutch oven in the embers of a fire, so the recipe selection is ancient an endless. Most slow cookers come with a recipe book, and many cans of soup, such as Campbell's Cream of Chicken, come with recipes on the label. Crock-pot cookbooks abound, but the cheapest, easiest source for crock-pot recipes is the internet. Try www.crockpot.com or www.yummycrockpotrecipes.com for Beef Stew, Swiss Steak, or Garlic Chicken with Rice—even learn how to throw your meat and vegetables in straight from the freezer.

Because sharing your attention is the most important part of being hospitable, let the crock pot do the cooking and free you up to welcome your guests into your home.

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