The slow cooker was invented & patented over 75 years ago by Irving Naxon. He wanted to cook cholent, a traditional bean stew eaten by Jews on the Sabbath. Since they were forbidden from cooking on the Sabbath, they would bring pots of the stew to a nearby bakery the day before, & the stew would cook slowly in the residual heat from the ovens. The “Naxon Beanery” invention was to make life easier for the Jewish housewife.

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In the early 1970’s, Naxon sold his design to Rival Manufacturing, who marketed it as a Crock Pot. It was marketed toward working mothers who could put the food in the pot in the morning & come home to a warm, home-cooked meal.

With the increased use of a microwave in the 80’s, sales for slow cookers died down a little, but in the past 15 years sales have doubled. There are a few explanations for this. It is thought that more men cook, & they especially like to use a slow cooker when tailgating. Another idea is that it saves money, because inexpensive cuts of meat are easily cooked to tenderness. Nostalgia might also play a role in it’s popularity. Classic design appliances are now prized for their old-fashioned look & appeal. It is estimated that over 80% of households in the United States own a slow cooker.

I acquired my first Crock-pot in the early 70’s, not too long after I was married. I am thinking that it might have been a Christmas gift, but not really sure. Mine had the green exterior, with a glass lid, & the crock was not removable. (Making clean-up a little awkward sometimes.) It came with a recipe book, & I started trying them out. The only recipe from this book that I still use is the one for Vegetable-Beef Soup. Since my first Crock Pot only held 2 1/2 quarts, I could only make a single recipe. My present one holds twice that much, so I can make more soup. This is a favorite, & it is great to have some left-over. Besides that, this soup always tastes better on the second day! It cooks for 24 hours, so I put everything except the frozen vegetables in the cooker the evening before. I use beef shanks, as I found these to give the hardiest broth. In the morning I remove the beef, & add the vegetables. After the beef has cooled a little, I remove any fat & return it to the soup. By the time of your evening meal the soup will be ready. ENJOY!

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