The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

February 4, 2009

What a crock!

As you know, I’m trying not to buy new plastic. But so many people have recommended crockpot cooking as a timesaving way to prepare healthy meals, that I finally decided to take the plunge. Still, I didn’t buy new plastic. I found a used crockpot for $10 on Craigslist! The seller lived within walking distance, so I picked it up this morning on my way to work.

Do you use a crockpot? Do you enjoy it? What are your favorite recipes? I’m looking for recipes using plastic-free ingredients (whole veggies, grains from the bulk bins, meat from the butcher that I buy using my own container, etc.) that I can throw into the pot and forget about for a few hours.

Do you use your crockpot for anything unusual? Let me know. I really want this thing to get some use and not just sit on the counter and look pretty.

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Sarah Weate
6 years ago

I use pressure cookers for soups and stews and things. AS you cook for a much shorter time they’re better environmentally as you save lots of energy.

Cory Trusty
12 years ago

Good find. I like using mine to make soup stock. I just use whatever I have on hand. I don’t really have a recipe.

14 years ago

I keep an ice cream bucket in the freezer (plastic, I know, sorry) and as we come across small portions of leftovers we toss them into the bucket. Spaghetti with sauce, bits of veggies, soups etc. When the bucket is about 3/4 full I take it out and thaw enough to get it into the crock pot, adding seasoning, meat or stock. Cook on low for 4 hours or so. We sometimes add noodles or rice when its done. Pair with some homemade bread or biscuits and we have a frugal meal. Come fall we make batches of apple butter from the apples we get from the neighbor. I LOVE my crock pot as well as my breadmachine. As a recent single mother of 3 they are lifesavers.


14 years ago

I LOVE this site. I am vegan, and most of these recipes are easily adaptable. You’ll love it.


14 years ago

For those interested, the article about lead glaze on crockpots and dishes can be found at:

As much as I love my crockpot especially during the summer, I’m now wondering if it is a good idea, especially since I have two small children.


14 years ago

You can make yogurt in a crockpot! there are several recipes online but here’s a quick one:

Condo Blues
14 years ago

I have an all electric kitchen and that's one of the places I really try to reduce my energy use. In my case, the crockpot is a more energy efficient way to cook because it uses much less electricity to cook food than my electric stove. The crockpot turns on and off in cycles like your refrigerator to heat/slow cook the food. It also allows us to have a meal waiting for us after work on days when we have activities, etc. that won't let us cook a regular dinner & would resort to fast food with all of it's icky wasteful wrappers.

Condo Blues
14 years ago

I love my crockpot. I use it to make Cuban Black Beans and Rice. Cook the rice separately and add it when you are ready to serve or the rice will turn to mush – I learned that one the hard way. I've also been able to make a lot of foods from the New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant in my crockpot. My husband cooks dried beans overnight in the crockpot, drains it and then adds difference spices to portions throughout the week for his lunch. An added bonus – dried beans soaked & cooked in the crockpot are gasless. who knew?

We've been cooking and eating all sorts of dried beans in the crockpot for many years and haven't gotten sick. My husband's a runner too so eating healthy is a priority. It's something I will look into though.

Lara S.
14 years ago

Hi Beth,
I didn’t know what a crock pot was, so I looked it up at Wikipedia and I found out about a dangerous part of crock pots:

“Raw kidney beans, and some other beans, contain a toxin, phytohaemagglutinin, which is destroyed by boiling for at least ten minutes, but not by the operating temperature of a slow cooker. Raw beans must be boiled prior to slow cooking to avoid food poisoning; canned beans do not require this, already having been so treated. Even a few beans can be toxic, and beans can be as much as five times more toxic if cooked at 80C (175F) than if eaten raw, so adequate pre-boiling is vital. Cases of poisoning by slow-cooked beans have been published in the UK; poisoning has occurred in the USA but has not been formally reported. “

Check out the link if you like:

I don’t know if this is true, but if I were you I’d research a bit before putting any kind of beans in the crock pot.

I don’t see it as a very enviro-friendly thing though, because it works on electricity instead of gas. I don’t think that’s a very efficient way to produce heat. Besides, it seems that you have to make it work for hours, and I bet most of the recipes can be made in a regular pot in much less time.
What are your thoughts about this? Do you find it energy-efficient?

14 years ago

Regarding the crock pot, I just got a pressure cooker. I love it. Lorna Sass is the goddess of pressure cookers.

Suzanne and Robin (from right to left)
14 years ago

Hi Beth–

Welcome to the crock pot club! We could not live without ours– we write a family food column for the Concord (NH) Monitor, and love the crockpot for the happy benefit of coming into the house at the end of the day and smelling dinner. It’s like a wife has been home all day cooking up a storm.

Here is a link to one of our favorite crockpot recipes: a tortellini soup that goes together in about 5 seconds and is infinitely adaptable:

14 years ago

Chili is my newest. I take whatever dry beans I have and soak for 24 hours. I take whatever ground meat I have and brown it (I get almost all my food locally). Take whatever form of tomato I have. Put soaked and rinsed beans, browned meat and tomato in crockpot. Add enough liquid (I’m still working this out) and put on low for 8 hours. Season before cooking to your taste!

And I make homemade applesauce. Slice lots of apples, peel it if you like. Fill up crockpot. Lots of cinnamon. Cook. Voila!

14 years ago

I agree with Mommustwrite about the 365 crock pot blog. I’ve tried 3 of her posts and they turned out FANTASTIC! She also did nearly all her recipes from organic ingredients and all glutten free.

I make a lot of stuff in my pot, but my fave thing to make is homemade chicken stock/broth or veggie broth. Its so much cheaper and better then the stuff you buy in the cans or the tetra packs.

14 years ago

You have the very same crock pot as me! I was just thinking the other day about using it for meals as our schedules have gotten busier. Normally it sits in the garage waiting for the 3 times a year I need it.

14 years ago

Wow, I kinda ditched the blog for a while, as tests and projects took over…actually, I have more then ever right now, but I decided to take a quick second just to check in.
I have no idea what a crockpot is, so I’m sad to say any relevant comments will end here.

But anyways, my environmentally-un-savvy father has begun to grab plastic bottles from his work and bring them home for me to refill and put back in the fridge, and brick bottles to and from work (I don’t know why he won’t use a reusable one, he insists on the disposables…)
He claims its for the economy, but what person worries about a few bucks invested in a water bottle when sending their kids to 30,000 dollar schools and taking 5000 trips to Costa Rica?
And my school is involved in something called the “Green Cup Challenge.”
Quite interesting really, probably worth looking up ^^

14 years ago

I make these once a month and freeze the extras in glass jars to pull out weekly.
3 cups black beans
water to cover beans (about twice as high as the beans – sometimes i need to add more)
one large onion
lots of garlic
cumin – don’t measure it
chile powder – mild kind
cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours and have black beans w/o the BOA lining. everything can be purchased plastic free.
would love to find more things to make.

Green Bean
14 years ago

I usually use mine for just apple butter and dried beans. I need to break out of that rut!

Love, too, that you can get alerts for Craigslist listings. I had no idea!

14 years ago

I don’t use a crockpot much anymore -I was mostly using it for beans and I like the pressure cooker a lot better.

But you can use the crockpot as a yogurt maker, and I have a couple things (lentil stew, overnight oatmeal) that I make in it all the time.

Plus, it’s the perfect way to simmer apple butter.

14 years ago

Schucks! Got a good excuse for forgetting to attach a link?

Here it is!

14 years ago

Hi Beth!

I subscribe to Everyday Food. I know, I know it’s a Martha publication. But I feel in love with it when it first came out (I was in college) and the recipes are that good that I can’t give it up.

I have attached the link to the site that lists the 10’s if not 100’s of slow cooker (I guess crockpot is an antiquated term now?)recipes!

Please try one that interests you – I have NEVER been led astray by there food!

Passion Purveyors

14 years ago

Baked beans are always good in the crockpot, as long as you use more than one pound of beans at a time. Of course, then you need to use up pounds of baked beans.

14 years ago

A crock pot will be great for making the kitties special meals that you posted about.

Chiot's Run
14 years ago

I make all kinds of things in mine, oatmeal, apple butter, soups, stews. You can make pretty much anything.

14 years ago

Hi Beth,

Try this link for a couple of great crock pot recipies from Hungry Girl:
They are good for you and actually tasty!

14 years ago

I just recently got a small crockpot at the Salvation army to try it out. I’ve found it to be especially great for cooking dry beans that take so long! I like it for soups and chili as well.

Green Resolutions
14 years ago

Beth, I hope you're feeling better.

I have a crockpot "recipe" that doesn't get any easier: I cook chicken covered in sundried tomato dressing or Italian dressing & water. I then serve covered with diced tomatoes mixed with Italian herbs. For sides, you can steam summer squash or fix a salad. Sometimes I'll cook spaghetti noodles to mix with the chicken & tomatoes.

And you might want to see if you can get the book "Fix it and Forget it"

Enjoy the crockpot! And thanks for the tips to subscribe to Craigslist. That is awesome!

14 years ago

I found this book (Best Ever Slow Cooker, One-Pot, & Casserole Cookbook) that has so much more than chili recipes. I've made jerk chicken, thai soup, salmon risotto, nut loaf, and a whole bunch of other recipes in it. I use my crockpot once or twice a week now, and love it. There are also recipes for baking tea breads and stuff like that in the crock pot, but I haven't tried that yet. You balance the loaf pan on a tea cup and fill the base of the pot with water. Dianne has great recipes too –

14 years ago

I love to make stuffed peppers in mine. You can use whatever ingredients you prefer. I just use a few bell peppers, some rice, beans, salsa and Mexican spices. Put about 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the pot and leave on low for 4-6 hours. Yum!

14 years ago

Wow, I must be really old-fashioned: I didn’t know electrical crockpots existed! To me, a crockpot looks like this:
They’re made of terracotta and make food taste wonderful.

14 years ago

soup, navy beans and hamhocks, the most unusual thing I cook in a crock pot: Coca Cola Pot roast
very easy- about a 3 lb roast, a can of french onion soup, a can of coke (not diet) set the crock pot and forget for about 6 hours, You can add whatever veggies you like, it cines out tender and great. I guess the idea is the sugar in the cola breaks down the meat.

14 years ago

Beth, you and I must be on the same wavelength at times! I was looking for a crockpot on craigslist just yesterday! Like food dehydrators and strawberry pots, I think that they must be one of those things that many people buy on a whim, then either loose interest or just forget about. Ergo, they *must* be on craigslist!

I just partook of a lovely veggie chili made by friends, and they sent me the recipe. I’ll forward it, even though it sounds like you’ll have plenty to choose from!

14 years ago

I make stews in my crockpot – carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, chicken pieces, sausages, dried herbs, garlic, bay leaf (1 or 2), fresh or canned tomato sauce will give it a nice color, optional to add beans or rice for more protein, wine and water or stock. Put it on low – go to work, and come home and the house smells like someone has been cooking all day. Spoon it out and enjoy a homecooked dinner ready when you come in the door. It will also make enough for a few other meals (don’t add the potatoes if you intend to freeze leftovers).

Enjoy! Judy

14 years ago

You should look into mac and cheese, I’ve tried a few different mac and cheese recipes in mine and it always comes out amazing. It’s a good first start because you can’t really mess it up.

14 years ago

I just made granola in ours last night. So easy and all from the bulk bins!
5 cups oatmeal (the large rolled oats variety)
1/2+ cup honey
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
1T vanilla
1T cinnamon
1/2+ cup dried fruit

Nuts if you like them. I don’t so I didn’t. Also I added more honey because I like it to be clumpy. (1 cup was still not enough to clump this amount of oats) I also greatly increased the amount of vanilla, cinnamon and dried fruit to be more what I wanted.
So basically, whatever ingredients you want on low for 3-4 hours stirring every 30 minutes.

Lisa Sharp
14 years ago

Is it a rival? I just did some research on those and they have a lot of lead. I can’t remember right now which one but one of the brands says they are lead free.

14 years ago

Lentil soup, stew, lasagna — and you can use regular noodles, beets. I will send you some recipes – love mine.

14 years ago

Love using my crock pot for making chili, and lasagne (yes! lasagne). You can use no-cook noodles as long as you layer and use sauce on bottom, each layer and on top, everything will cook.

With chili or any dish that requires onions and garlic, you get better flavor from the onions if you fry them in a pan on teh stove first, then add to crock pot. I use an entire bottle of beer in my chili!

14 years ago

Check out — she has a whole years’ worth of ideas!