Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Crock Pot Heaven

love crock pots!

I have a girlfriend who insists that crock pots are for old ladies. Yes, she does have one but feels incredibly self-conscious about it.

Well, if that's true, then hand me a cane and colour my hair blue... because I have TWO!

I love them so much that I almost always have both of them going, all seasons of the year, never clean and empty, and never put away... and if I could, I'd have three.

Sadly though, I have run out of crock pot counter space...

I use my pots so much that you can see that they're well-loved! The fact is, that crockpots don't have to be pretty to make your life more fabulous! Sure it's nice if they are pretty... but nice is not a prerequisite for a crock pot. In fact, one of mine has completely lost all of it's knobs but has still been going strong for the about the last four years!

I suppose if I have one complaint about them, it would be that the plastic handles installed on the newer versions, by the manufacturing companies, are not heat resistant. As a matter of fact, after having 3 new lids sent to me by one manufacturing company, only to have the lid handle crumble again, I had HAD-IT!!

I finally just went to a second-hand store, picked up one of those old aluminum pot lids (you know, the ones that everyone had in the 70s and 80s), unscrewed the big black knob and screwed it onto my existing crock pot lid. It's been good for three years now. Now, if I could only figure out how to replace the temperature select knob that fell apart... sigh... thankfully a gluten free diet means that my fingers are no where near as stiff as they used to be...


One pot, I use for at least one dinner per week and then the rest of the week it holds soup broth or even full fledged soup: Basic Soup Broth Recipes

The other pot, is where we throw all of our leftovers... and I mean EVERYTHING!!

This is the easiest way I have found to keep up with homemade pet food. Pretty much everything gets thrown into this pot full of water, much like a compost bin. A couple of exceptions would be too much raisins, chocolate, onion or broccoli, mostly because the majority of this pot becomes dog food... and too much of these items are toxic to dogs.

Dinner cleanup is a cinch! The crock pots are right next to the dishwasher, so everyone just scrapes their plates off into the animal crock pot and plunks the dish into the dishwasher. Easy peasy!

Even the stuff that I strain out of my bone broth crock gets thrown into the animal crock.

Nothing is wasted and the animals are in fabulous condition since we have not had a single visit to the vet in almost 5 years (with our German Shepherd who is almost 14 years old and our Rottweiler who is about 8 years old). Since we went gluten free, the animals did too... and their health has been entirely reflective of the fact that this diet is not only better for us, but better for them too!

Before they went gluten free, we had continual smelly gas issues (okay, occasionally we still do since the rottie seems to have beef and grain issues), ear infections, and the German Shepherd's pannus had almost completely blinded him. Yes, surprisingly, on a largely grain-free diet, his pannus cleared up almost completely. What an unexpected yet wonderful side-effect to a gluten free (largely grain free) diet!

Of course never forgetting to give much of the credit to living in Crock Pot Heaven!

In the photo below, you can see where the pannus (dark brown blob) has receded to the edge of the pupil. It also became less lumpy, which meant less aggravation and therefore, not more gunky tear streaks.

The pupil in this eye, (when we got him from the humane society, at approx. 6 years old at the

Once the pupil cleared, he not only stopped tripping on the children's toys but to our surprise, could run like the wind!

Apparently a veterinarian I ran into, completely by mistake, has had similar results with a younger shepherd also: please google DogtorJ (no - the "g' is not a typo) for more info. He attributes pannus to corn but in some discussion I had with him, his dog appeared to be gluten free also. This concurs with my dog's diet,which we purposefully ensured was gluten free, but inadvertently, was also corn free.
time) was almost completely covered by the pannus and he could not see toys on the living room floor.

And if I feel we don't have enough leftovers to make up a dinner for the dogs, I just add the cheapest meat I can find in the grocery store. This means that even if I have to buy some cheap meat/fish, my homemade, environmentally friendly, additive free dog food, is not only healthier but is actually more budget friendly (by a long shot!) than the big $80 brand name stuff that we used to get from our vet!

But I digress...

Every once in a while, I dump the pot contents into the bird compost pot (where we put scraps that are going out to the chickens and ducks), clean out the pot, fill it with clean water and continue on.

Honestly, though, even without having a crock pot for animals, I would still keep two pots just for us. One for completed soup that's always at the ready and one for soup broth in progress.

Here are just a few other things I've used my extra pot for in the past:

1) Reduce broth to the point that it's almost pudding-thick and added some balsamic vinegar to create meat rub or to further mix it with a bit of honey and pureed raspberries for a fabulously original salad dressing.

2) Taken frozen fruit out of the freezer, tossed it in the crock pot and let it stew down to make a fabulous topping for bread, waffles, dessert (ice cream, custard, etc.) or cake (in lieu of sugar-filled icing).

3) Keeping french fries warm (covered with a towel though so they don't go soggy).

4) Cooking rice in that can be tossed in at the beginning of the day (with soup broth, of course) that is deliciously ready by dinner time.

5) ... and so many more things!

Life is good, and warm, and healthy in Crock Pot Heaven (even with blue hair)!

For basic soup broth recipes, please see here: Soup Broth

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