Making Time With Your Crockpot

By Cynthia Cowan>

It’s tough to turn out a slow-cooked meal if you work full-time. Lunch breaks involve mad dashes home to sear the pot roast before settling it into the oven for a four-hour braise. Stews are nearly impossible, requiring a stirring every half hour or so. It would be asking too much of your neighbor to take a turn with the spoon. What are time-challenged home cooks to do? Consider the crockpot.

While all the rage in the early 1970s, crockpots have been put on the back burner in favor of microwaves and prepared foods until recently. Interestingly, crockpots are now enjoying a resurgence in popularity for some very timely, economy-minded, Go-Green reasons. Crockpots use less energy than an oven and they don’t heat up the kitchen. They miraculously transform inexpensive cuts of meat into something savory, while sitting unattended on your countertop. And, perhaps most importantly, crockpots free you up to bring home the bacon.

Speaking of bacon, many traditional recipes can be prepared in a crockpot using much less added fat, thus adding a heart-healthy dimension. While on the topic of hearts, what better way to say I love you than preparing a delicious, heart-healthy breakfast for your loved one(s) without getting out of bed? Before retiring tonight, dust off that old crockpot that you got for a wedding gift and fall in love all over again . . . with oatmeal.

Cupid’s Crockpot Oatmeal

6 cups skim milk

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not quick-cooking)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 apples, peeled and diced

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (toasted preferably)

1/2 cup raisins, dried cranberries or cherries

Grease crockpot. Add milk, oats, salt and cinnamon. Stir in fruit and nuts. Simmer on low for 8 hours. Stir before serving. Serve with butter, cream and brown sugar. Serves 4 to 6. Feel the love.