Crock for jocks

Jan 232008
Authors: Maggie Canty

Every student is busy, and often times eating healthy becomes secondary to eating quickly.

And no, boys, Hungry Man is not a food group.

But there is hope. Put down that Cup O’Noodles and read on.

Crock-pots, lovingly called crotch pots in my home, offer an easy way to make hearty, home-cooked meals with very little time spent in the kitchen.

If you can make a sandwich, you can follow a crock-pot recipe. It’s a simple matter of assembly.

Basic crock-potting involves filling the pot with vegetables, meats, a sauce base and any spices or additions (even just salt and pepper) added to taste, and allowing them to slowly cook together over 6 hours or so, creating a stew-like meal.

You can start it before classes, and come home to a house that smells delicious and a meal that tastes even better.

Who needs mom anyway?

If you’ve never used one before, it’s never too late to enter the wonderful world of the pot. So pull the green and orange floral-printed machine out from the back of the pantry, clean off the dust, and start filling up on foods whose main ingredient isn’t salt.

For those who weren’t lucky enough to get a pot handed down from grandma, you can purchase one for less than $40 brand new, or even find a cheaper one at a thrift store, but wash it before use — unless you like the taste of bacteria.

After you’ve got the crock, pick a recipe. Almost any kind of recipe, from simple stews to crock-pot lasagna, can be found online, or check out one of mom’s old cook books for ideas. I have experimented with chicken, beef, pork and all kinds of different sauces and add-ins, often with no recipe at all.

Because veggies cook slower than meat, I would suggest putting them on the bottom. Then add in the meat, and fill with the sauce, broth or water.

The more broth, the moister the meal, but too much can make it watery or soup-like. If the meal is too dry, try lifting the lid less or adding water.

Keep the pot covered in order to keep the steam in and the cooking time accurate. Make sure the lid fits tight, and if it doesn’t, try covering it with tin foil.

Most recipes take anywhere from 5 to 9 hours. I like to double recipes, adding on a few hours of cooking but leaving me with leftovers to throw in the freezer for a rainy day. Or a sunny day. Or later that night, more likely.

Don’t re-cook frozen crock-pot meals in a crock, to reduce the risk of bacteria growth over time. The microwave is more efficient for leftovers, and faster too.

Crock-pottery, like art, is an experiment. With a crock-pot, nothing is certain, and it’s rare that you’ll have something come out exactly the same more than once, no matter how much you treat your recipe like the Bible. You’re better off fooling around, trying different sauce bases and proportions. The cool thing about the crock-pot is that there is no right or wrong. Just like philosophy class.

Now that’s an easy A.

Next time your body is craving something besides caffeine (if that ever happens) and you don’t have time to slave over anything but homework, plug in the pot and start cooking while you’re at work, school or — lets be realistic — on Facebook.

You’ll end up with a meal worth skipping class, without even needing to.

So crock on stalwart rams.

Entertainment editor Maggie Canty can be reached at

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