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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Crock-Pot Cooking Regaining Popularity

By Sherrie Norris

There seems to be a resurgence of crockpot cooking these days as the time-saving devices are finding their way out of the storage closets and back to the kitchen. But, don’t we see that happening with most everything? If you keep something long enough, chances are, it will return as the “next best thing,” years later. I can think of a few items that I hope never return —men’s polyester leisure suits to name one!

I was involved in the slow-cooker craze back in the 80s for a brief time, but never felt comfortable leaving anything turned on while away all day at work. Now that my schedule is much more flexible and I am not away for 10 hours a day, I’m loving having a hot meal prepared at the end of a cold winter’s day, and especially getting a whiff of the aroma that drifts upward to my home office space from the kitchen below. I’m pulling some of my crockpot favorites out of the archives just for you this week. I hope you enjoy.

 Daphne’s Pintos

(Shared several years ago by my friend, Daphne Petrey)

Soak one bag of dry pinto beans overnight. Rinse beans in the morning and then put pintos into crock-pot. Add salt until you think you’ve added enough and then add two extra pinches (probably 4-6 good pinches total). Layer turkey bacon on top of your pinto beans. Cover with water and cook on low all day (or on high for half the day)

Once they start boiling keep an eye on the water level, as you may need to add a little extra liquid to keep them covered.

Daphne notes: “A few times I have not had any turkey bacon, but a beef bouillon cube or two will also add some great flavor. Serve with sour cream and shredded cheese.  Cornbread and fried potatoes go great with this dish as well.” 

(Of course, regular bacon is always a great source of seasoning. It’s just not quite as healthy as Daphne’s suggestion.)

Pork Barbecue

1 pork roast (shoulder, butt, fresh picnic ham, etc.), approx. 4 lbs.

1 lg. onion

4 to 6 garlic cloves, sliced

Your favorite barbecue sauce

Brown pork roast in skillet with a small amount of oil. Peel and slice onion. Place half of the onion in bottom of crockpot. Put roast in crockpot and add ½ cup water. Add remaining onion and garlic. Cover and cook on low 9 -11 hours; remove meat and let cool enough to handle. Discard onion and juices. Tear roast into small pieces or shred with fork, return to crockpot and add barbecue sauce, until juicy, and as much as you like. Continue to cook on low for 1½-3 hours, or until flavors are well-blended.

Serve shredded pork on buns.

Country Cousin Soup

4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 pound lean ground beef, cooked, crumbled, well drained

1 large onion, chopped

3 large potatoes, cubed

4 cups cabbage, shredded

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown bacon and ground beef; drain and add to slow cooker with all other ingredients. Cook on low 7 to 9 hours. Season to taste.

Slow Cooker Bread Pudding

3 eggs, beaten

3½ cups milk

2 tsp. vanilla

1 to 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. salt

3 cups bread cubes or soft torn bread

¾ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup raisins

1 banana, sliced, optional

Combine all ingredients, gently stirring until breadcrumbs or cubes are thoroughly moistened. Place mixture in a greased slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve hot or cold. Great with a vanilla sauce or ice cream.