In Installment 4 of Back to School the Healthy Way we’ll focus on an easy to prepare after school snack that can also be used as a dinner or in a lunch-box.
A slow cooker, a.k.a. a Crock-Pot is a countertop electrical cooking appliance that allows moist-heat cooking at a relatively low temperature. I know, many of you are thinking Eeeewww, crock-pot cooking is so 1970’s! Today, I’m going to talk about the virtues of this inexpensive appliance, and how it can save you time and money. Let’s go back in time…..it’s 1971 and Mother’s across America are beginning to hang up their June Cleaver aprons and join the work force. They still want to have a healthy meal for their family when they come home from work…enter the crock-pot! 15 minutes of preparation in the morning, and dinner is done when they get home from the office, what could be easier!
The origins of the crock pot date back to the 1950s, and a company by the name of Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago, Illinois. They first created this slow cooker as the “Beanery All Purpose Cooker”, and as its name implies it was designed to cook baked beans. Naxon was purchased by Rival in 1970, and the Beanery was reinvented as the Crock Pot. In 1981, and after a redesign which made the crock-pot easier to clean, sales had reached 10 million dollars.
We all lead busy lives, so owning (and actually using) a crock pot makes sense. I can’t think of a better way to save not only time, but money. Even less desirable, tougher cuts of beef, (which are less expensive) come out tender when they are cooked at a constant low temperature for 6+ hours. I used to think of my crock-pot during the winter months, but now it resides in my pantry and is used all year long. During the summer I can prepare a meal without heating up the kitchen, and during the winter savory stews with root vegetables come out tender and flavorful.
Since our focus is on Back to School the Healthy Way, I wanted to share one of my son’s favorite crock pot snacks, and it’s also economical. I season 6-8 chicken drumsticks (depending on size) with Celtic sea salt, ground pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, ground ginger, and poultry seasoning. I place the seasoned drumsticks in the crock-pot and cook on low for 6 hours. You will notice that the batch in this crockpot is the whole leg, it’s what was available at my local farm this weekend. These will need to cook a bit longer, but when they are done I will remove the thigh portion and use it to make dinner. I also added a bit of sweet basil from my garden for this batch of chicken legs, it adds sweetness to the chicken and is a wonderful addition. Chicken drumsticks make a great afterschool snack, toss them in the crock pot when the kids head out to school and voila, they’ll be ready to eat when they walk through the door in the afternoon!