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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Simmering Slow Cookery

Hi Everyone! Boy oh boy, do we have snow!!! A great day to celebrate National Slow Cooker Month! That's Slow Cooker not Snow Cooker:)

If you were to ask a quick question on google such as, "who invented the crock pot", nine out of ten times, the names Robert J. Scott and Rival Manufacturing will surface. To expand on such a query by adding say, date, invariably 1970 will be included. Every now and again, you might happen across the words Beanery and the Naxon Company of Chicago.

Crock Pot® is the registered trade mark of Rival. However it has become so well know that it has become the generic name for all cookers of this type. (Just like 'Kleenex®' for tissue and 'Band-aid®' for adhesive plaster.)...In late 1970, Rival acquired the assets of the Naxon Company of Chicago. Along with this acquisition was a little appliance called the 'Beanery'. It was a basic bean cooker. It was of white steel, with a glazed brown crock liner, and aluminium lid...Cooks and chefs started to experiment with this little bean cooker. Soon they discovered that it cooked meat even better than beans. And the birth of the Rival Crock Pot® took place. (source)
If you were to make your first stop @ wiki, here's what you might find:
A slow cooker, Crock-Pot (a US trademark that is often used generically), or Slo-Cooker (a UK trade mark that is often used generically) is a countertop electrical cooking appliance that maintains a relatively low temperature compared to other cooking methods (such as baking, boiling, and frying), for many hours allowing unattended cooking of pot roast, stew, and other suitable dishes...The Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago developed the Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker. The Rival Company bought Naxon in 1970, and reintroduced it under the Crock-Pot name in 1971...The brand now belongs to Sunbeam Products.
One step further @ Sunbeam, and the plot thickens.
It all started in August of 1970 with a simple bean-cooker: a glazed brown crock liner, white steel housing and aluminum lid. What the Crock-Pot® brand did first was expand the cookbook to offer a real practical variety of dishes for the bean-cooker. The brand then redesigned the product’s outer wrapper and added handles and a glass lid. By associating the crockery liner with its pot-like shape, out came the name Crock-Pot® slow cooker...
Well, with me being me and you being you and January being National Slow Cooker Month, further investigation was necessary. Who invented the slow cooker?
History of the Slow Cooker
The innovator of the slow cooker was a company called Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago. They came up with what they called the Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker. This was a metal container that was 12" tall x 8" round and had three different slow cooking temperatures. It was a simple devise yet very effective and efficient.
I didn't find the original patent for our Mr. Scott. Admittedly, I didn't dig very deep especially since I happened upon an article about "Mr. Crock Pot" written by someone who knew him personally. (the link is below) And, fortunately for arguments sake, I didn't extract the identity of the Beanery or the Naxon Company of Chicago easily. Else, I would never have stumbled upon Irving Nachumsohn's patent for a Cooking Apparatus patented January 23, 1940, #2187888. (Scott didn't start fiddling with the design until the 70s)

Apparently, Irving Nachumsohn [Naxon] (I'm thinking he altered his name for ease of use) was a prolific inventor. He invented the Naxon Telesign which transmits messages on the telephone to electronic signs on buildings. Some say this telecommunication device was the precursor to the fax machine and telephone modems of today. It must have been quite innovating for its time because I stumbled upon a court case and was indeed surprised to learn who the defendants were. (I'll leave the link below if you're interested.) He also invented several other electrical appliances and worked during World War II to help develop an oxygen flow indicator for use in aircraft. In one article I read, his daughter is quoted as saying, "Mr. Naxon was a self-made man who earned his electrical engineering license and patent licenses through the mail."

I must take a moment to thank the author Heather Houck Reseck for the "lead" to Irving Naxon. Her book Fix-It-Fast: Vegetarian Cookbook is available @ google books for limited viewing. It's jam packed with innovating recipes and terrific tips and advice for getting the most out of your crock-pot. I for one have added it to my want list!!!

Mr. Naxon died in 1989. An obituary from the Chicago Tribune reads:

September 25, 1989:
Services for Irving Naxon, 87, inventor of the electric Crockpot, will be held at 1 p.m. Monday in the chapel at 9200 Skokie Blvd., Skokie. Mr. Naxon died Friday in an Evanston nursing home. He was a longtime resident of the West Rogers Park neighborhood. The Crockpot slow cooker was one of several electric appliances that Mr. Naxon invented. He also worked during World War II to help develop an oxygen flow indicator for use in aircraft.

The Recipes

Have we come full circle? I think not. Is it time to haul out those crocks? Absolutely!!! What's your favorite meal to cook in the slow cooker? Do you have a favorite time of year to crank it up? Did you know you can whip up an Orange Soufflé in a Crock-Pot? Heaven forbid, do you have a crock-pot still hidden in the cupboard of obscurity? Get up right now and drag it out!!! Don't worry, we'll wait.

Someone once said that the invention of the slow cooker was the next best thing to sliced bread. I whole heartily agree. No longer is there a reason not to arrive home to a house engulfed in aromas only a family can love. Unless of course, you live in a small family like Marion and I. Quite honestly, we use the crock pot quite often, summer and winter. I adore brewing stock in the crock. I'm a saver. Vegetable peelings, scrapes of leftovers, bones, yes bones, I pack them all into a freezer bag until the bag is just about ready to burst then everything goes into the slow cooker. Sometimes, I freeze the stock "as is" for a future stew or a soup, made in the crockpot of course or, I simply strain it and save the liquid essence for someday. You can never have enough stock you know. (much more flavorful than those boxes and cans, and less salt too:)

Unfortunately, the first of the crock pot books to be published, mostly by Rival, really didn't get to the heart of slow cookery. It took a woman by the name of Mable Hoffman author of "Crockery Cookery and many other small appliance cookbooks, to truly realize the ease of deliciousness that can be obtained from "throwing all kinds of goodies into the pot." It was her encouragement that led novices to experiment with their own recipes once they learned how a crock pot works.

Unlike a pressure cooker, which needs a certain amount of tending, albeit a minium amount of time in most cases, a slow cooker offers the advantage of supplying its ravaging goodness over the course of hours. Just think of things that can be done while dinner is ever so slowly simmering. And, like a pressure cooker, the health benefits and vitamin content stays in tact. Oh goodness, I could go on and on about the virtues of slow cookery. Let's get to the recipes.

I no longer have a copy of "Crockery Cookery. I shipped it off to my daughter in Idaho. For today's post, I relied on recipes found in both Betty Crocker and Pillsbury supermarket cookbooks. If you're willing to try, you might be able to print this recipe. I'm not sure if it will work:)

Garlic Pork Roast & Sweet Potatoes
3-1/2 pound pork boneless loin roast
1 tbs. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 cups 1-inch pieces peeled sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup chicken broth (see what I mean about stock:)
1. Remove fat from pork. Heat oil in 10-inch skillet over medium high heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper over pork. Cook pork in oil about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides.
2. Place sweet potatoes, onion and garlic in 3-1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker. Place pork on vegetables. Pour broth over pork.
3. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8-10 hours or until pork and vegetables are tender. Makes 8 servings.
Betty's Tips:
1. If you like, you can substitute apple juice for the chicken broth.
2. After browning the roast, use a small amount of chicken broth to deglaze the pan. Pour over the pork with the remainder of the stock.
My 2 Cents:
1. I brine the pork the night before. I suppose it isn't necessary since the crock pot usually provides tenderness even to the least tender cut of meat but, I do anyway:)
2. There are those who would disagree but, I've been known to include a bit of pineapple juice in my brining liquid. And, sage is a nice touch:)
Casserole & Slow Cooker Meals Betty Crocker; February 2002 #181
Here's a recipe submitted by Annmarie, a Long Islander from Bellmore, New York.

Mom's Lentil Soup
1 pound smoked ham shanks
8 cups chicken broth
1 pkg. (16 oz) dried lentils (2-1/4 cups), sorted and rinsed
4 medium stalks celery, chopped (2 cups)
4 medium carrots, chopped (2 cups)
3 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups shredded fresh spinach
1. Mix all ingredients except spinach in 4 to 6 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 9 hours or until lentils are tender.
2. Remove ham shanks from slow cooker. Remove meat, discard bones and skin. Set ham and spinach into soup. Stir well before serving. Makes 8 servings.
Note: Chopped fresh tomato may be stirred in with the ham and spinach if desired.
New Slow Cooker Meals Betty Crocker; September 2001; #176

I just couldn't resist.

Chicken with Creamy Paprika Sauce
10 chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tbs. chicken broth
2 tbs. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbs. cornstarch
3 tbs. cold water
1 container (8 oz) sour cream with chives
hot cooked pasta or spaetzle, if desired.
1. Place chicken and onion in 3-1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker. Mix broth and paprika; pour over chicken. Sprinkle with salt.
2. Cover and cook on low setting 7 to 8 hours or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.
3. Remove chicken and onion from cooker, using slotted spoon. Place on serving platter, keep warm.
4. Mix cornstarch and water, pour into slow cooker. Cook on high heat setting about 10 minutes or until thickened. Stir in sour cream. Pour sauce over chicken. Serve over pasta. Makes 5 servings.
Betty's Tip: If you can't find sour cream with chives, use an 8 ounce container of sour cream and add 1 tbs. chopped fresh or dried chives.
Casserole & Slow Cooker Meals Betty Crocker; February 2002 #181

Resources
1. 8 reasons why you should give your Crock-Pot a second chance
2. Which slow cooker is best?
3. Results for all Irving Naxon patents
4. Irving Naxon obit
5. Mr. Crock Pot: The Origin of an American Appliance Icon
6. Court Case
Recipe Links
1. Crockpot Stew Recipes
2. Dress up your Crock Pot to suit any occasion!
3. Crock Pot Refried Beans for a Crowd @ Coleen's Recipes
4. Overnight Crock Pot Oatmeal (seriously, how cool is this and yummy too. I know, Marion & I have a favorite recipe similar to this one. Go with steel cut oats though otherwise you'll get real mush:)
5. Crock Pot Hoagies (Don't these look scrumptious?)
6. Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

12 comments:

  1. Thanks, Louise, great post. I have an old crockpot that was used a lot many years ago. Might want a new shiny one, but this one is still working, and I rarely throw anything out.
    Here's a recipe for Crockpot Chocolate Cake. It's easy & really works: http://dyingforchocolate.blogspot.com/2009/07/chocolate-crockpot-cake.html

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  2. The Knight is a HUGE slow-cooker fan, but you had me at Orange Souffle. Dear FIL - I need to go home now to attempt a souffle in a crock pot, and it's Louise's fault.

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  3. Hi Louise,
    I think of the slow cooker as a way to get the same effect that our foremothers used when they put a pot on the back of the all-purpose kitchen and heating stove. The fire never went out, but on the back, it wasn't too hot either. And lots of good but tough cuts of meat could go into that pot with scraps of vegetables, just as you said, and come out delightful and never wasted.

    Best,
    Mae of maefood.blogspot.com

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  4. Now I wish I had a pork roast in my fridge! We got about 7" of new snow, and Ryan got his first high school snow day. Everyone was happy, especially Thor!

    Anyway, I think sloppy joes are in my dining future. They're warm, too!

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  5. LOL! I see you were thinking about crock pots--I was too. I have a post waiting for me to get around to the pictures. Thanks for the info on the history--I never knew it was a bean cooker first, but it makes sense. I have cooked pinto beans in the crock pot for so long that I doubt I could cook them on the stove now.

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  6. I just got a slow cooker for Christmas! I can't wait to try that slow cooker mac and cheese!

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  7. Some good recipes there - I love my slow cooker!

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  8. Thanks for dropping off that recipe, Janet. Sounds interesting...I have two "old" crockpots and I wouldn't change either of them in for a new one.

    The Orange Souffle sure is tempting Channon but, if the Knight enjoys a crocked meal every now and again, I suggest the Garlic Pork Roast & Sweet Potatoes; YUMMY!

    Funny you should say that Mae. The first newsletter I ever published was titled Stockpot. I'm a scrap saver from way back!

    We've been so lucky so far, Marjie. Only about 3 inches in my back yard. Sloppy Joes, hmmm...

    I'll be looking forward to that crock pot post, Kathy. I didn't know it was originally a bean cooker either. The crock pot "pundits" have smothered it in a lot of saucy tales.

    You go duckie and please report back. That mac and cheese sounds like something both you and ben will enjoy!!!

    Ditto, Jan

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  9. Who knew that something as straightforward as the slow cooker could have such a complicated history. loved reading about it, and I love my crockpot!

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  10. Interesting post. There's no explanation for the name "crock pot", no? Probably ist has nothing to do with Betty Crocker?

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  11. I use my slow copker /crockpot all the time and have for the past 40 some years. Love reading all this entersting information.

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  12. I was surprised also Louann. Thank goodness someone got it right. I have mine simmering a brisket "as we speak."

    Hi Petra! I'm thinking the term "crock" comes from the original pottery utensil used for cooking the beans, which was its first use. No, Betty Crocker had nothing to do with it. "She" sure did capitalize on it though!!!

    Thanks, Rita, It sure was fun posting!!!

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came to early,
none returned to late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise