One of life’s most useful pleasures in the kitchen is the faithful crockpot. Load it up as you head out to work, open it up for dinner. Much less bother and much better tasting not to mention much more nutritious than fast food. Crockpot cooking recipes courtesy of Diana Rattrary, Southern US cuisine editor, at, used with permission. . Several of these recipes call for cans of soup. Remember that 2 -3 cups of gravy or some other kind of sauce can substitute for cans of creamed soups in recipes. Use more gravy if (for example) the recipe calls for a can of soup plus a can of water or milk.

Apple Brown Betty

3 lbs. cooking apples | 10 slices of bread, cubed (4 cups) | 1/2 tsp. cinnamon | 1/4 tsp. nutmeg |
1/8 tsp. salt | 3/4 c. brown sugar | 1/2 c. butter, melted

Wash apples, peel, core, cut into eighths; place in bottom on crock. Mix bread cubes, spices, salt, sugar, butter; toss together. Place on top of apples and cover. Cook on low setting 2 to 4 hours. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Baked Beans from dried beans

1 lb dried white beans | 4-1/2 cups Water or Stock | 1/3 cup Molasses | 1/4 cup Brown sugar |1 Onion, chopped |
1/4 lb Salt pork or ham, |1 tablespoon Dijon mustard | 1/2 teaspoon Salt

Rise beans, in crock pot, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low 13 to 14 hrs., stirring occasionally if possible. 6 to 8 servings.

BBQ Beans from canned beans

2 lg.cans pork & beans | 1 cup brown sugar | 2 med. onions, chopped | 1 bell pepper, chopped | 1 lb. bacon | 1 small bottle BBQ sauce

Empty beans into slow cooker. Add brown sugar, onions, pepper and BBQ sauce. Fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper to remove excess grease. Cut into small pieces and add to bean mixture. Cook on low for 2 to 4 hours.

Bean Soup

1-1/2 cups Northern beans, soaked overnight and drained | 4 cups water | 2 (8 oz.) cans tomato sauce | Salt and pepper to taste |
2 med. potatoes, diced |2 carrots, shredded | 2 small onions, chopped | 1/2 to 1 cup diced ham

Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Stir. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours. Adjust seasonings. Serves 4.

Broccoli & Cheese Soup

Chopped frozen broccoli | 2 cups cooked noodles | 3 tbsp. chopped onions | 2 tbsp. butter |
1 tbsp. flour | 2 cups shredded cheese | Salt to taste | 5-1/2 C. milk

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Stir well. Cook on low for 4 hours. 8 servings.

Corn Chowder

2 cans (16 oz) whole kernel corn, drained | 2 to 3 medium potatoes, chopped | onion, chopped |
1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper | 2 cups chicken broth | 2 cups milk | 1/4 cup butter

Combine first 6 ingredients in crock pot. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours. Puree in a blender or food processor, if desired, then return to pot. Stir in milk and butter; cook on high about 1 hour more. Serves 6 to 8.

Bachelor’s Easy Stew

Stew meat or hamburger | 1 can Carrots, drained | 2 small Potatoes | 4 Cubes beef bouillon | 1 tablespoon Italian herbs | 2 cups water

Brown meat, cube potatoes, put all ingredients in the crockpot. Add water and turn on crock pot on LOW for 8 to 9 hours. Thicken with a mixture of flour and a little cold water, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with biscuits. You can use 2 cups stock instead of bouillon.

Chris’ Crock Pot Dressing

8-inch pan cornbread | 8 slices day old bread, toasted and cubed | 4 eggs | 1 med. onion | 1/2 c. chopped celery | 2 tsp. sage or poultry seasoning | 1/2 tsp. black pepper | 2 tbsp butter | 2 cans cream of chicken soup or 2-1/2 cups gravy

Lightly grease crock pot. Crumble cornbread into mixer bowl. Add all ingredients except butter. Pour into crockpot, dot top with butter. Cook on high 2 hours or on low 3-4 hours. You can add crushed red pepper or sauteed sliced jalapeno peppers to spice it up a bit. Add or reduce amount of liquid to get the consistency you like.

Green Chile Grits

2 cups regular grits | 6 cups water or stock | 1/2 teaspoon paprika | 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt | 4 to 6 oz chopped mild green chile |
dash cayenne | 1 or more jalapeno chiles, finely chopped

Combine all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 to 9 hours or on high 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If cooking on high add 1/4 to ½ cup more water if too thick. Similar to polenta, you serve right away or you can refrigerate the mixture in a buttered loaf pan for a few hours or overnight, unmold, slice (½ inch thick), and fry in butter until browned. Serves about 8

Ground Beef & Potato Meal

1-1.2 lb. ground beef | 1 large clove garlic | 1/4 tsp. pepper | 1/2 tsp. thyme | 6 med. potatoes |
2 large onions | 1 can cream of mushroom soup | 1/2 c. water

Cook ground beef and garlic in skillet until lightly browned. Stir in pepper and thyme. Peel and slice potatoes and onions. Put ½ potatoes and onions into buttered crock pot. Add browned beef and top with remaining potatoes and onions. Mix mushroom soup with water and spread over top of contents. Cover. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours.

Squash Casserole

5 cups yellow squash, canned or frozen, or cooked and mashed | 1/2 cup melted butter |
1 can cream of chicken soup | 2 slices cubed bread | 1 cup sour cream

Place squash in slow cooker with butter and cook for 1 hour. Add soup as it comes from the can, and cook until hot. Add bread and sour cream and cook until bubbly.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound small dried red beans, soaked overnight and drained | 1 onion, chopped | 3 cloves garlic, minced |
salt and pepper, to taste | 6 cups hot cooked rice | 1 C chopped green onions | 1 ham bone, cracked

Place beans in crock pot and add remaining ingredients, except rice and green onions, with 1-1/2 quarts water. Cover and cook on high 2 hours. Turn heat to low and cook, covered, 10 to 12 hours. Remove ham bone and mash some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the remaining liquid. Remove meat from bone and return meat to pot. Season with salt, pepper and serve with rice, topped with green onions.

Crock Pot Rice Pudding

2-1/2 C cooked rice | 1-1/2 c. scalded milk | 2/3 c. white or brown sugar | 3 eggs, beaten | 1 tsp. salt |
2 tbsp. vanilla | 1 tsp. cinnamon | 1 tsp. nutmeg | 1/2 c. raisins | 3 tbsp. soft butter

Combine all ingredients. Pour into lightly greased crock pot. Cook on high 1 to 2 hours. Stir during first 30 minutes. Recipe can be doubled.

Split Pea Soup

3-1/2 cups. dried split peas| 1 cup Carrots, diced in half inch sections | 1 cup Onion, finely chopped | 1/2 cup Parsnip; peeled and diced (optional) | 1/2 cup Celery, chopped |1 teaspoon Dried thyme | 1/2 teaspoon Salt | 1/2 teaspoon Pepper | 6 cups stock | large Smoked ham hocks | Garnish: Garlic croutons, chopped Parsley

In a 4- or 5-qt. slow cooker, combine everything except ham hocks and garnish. Add ham hocks, submerging them in mixture. Cover; cook on low heat setting for 8 to 9 hours., until peas are very soft. Remove ham hocks; skim fat from surface of soup. Trim fat from hocks. Cut meat from bones and shred; stir into soup. Ladle into 6 bowls. Garnish each serving with garlic croutons and parsley.

Alternatives to Crock Pots:

Solar Cooking: a solar oven can be made from cardboard boxes and aluminum foil. Insulated non-electric cooker: this is a box or barrel big enough that at least four inches of insulating material can be packed on all sides, top and bottom, of a covered pot placed inside the container. This method works best with recipes with liquid (soups, stews, beans, etc). Heat the food to boiling, cover and place in the insulating cook pot (lining the inside of the outer container with aluminum foil helps retain heat.) This should be good for about 3 hours of cooking. “Insulating material” could be hay, straw, cloth, newspapers, sawdust, etc.) If the recipe will take more than 3 hours, after the third hour take the pot out of the box and heat it to boiling again, replacing it in its nest of insulation in the cook box.

Robert Waldrop