Crock-Pot Promises (Angel in the Kitchen)

Irving the Inventor!

In this age of high-speed internet, fast food, express checkout, and technology bent on making people and processes move ever more quickly, it’s really cool to learn about something that was actually designed to be slow. We’re talking about the crock-pot; designed to allow cooks to safely prepare a soup, stew or roast at a lower heat, while they were doing something else — probably away from home. In fact, one clever ad slogan announced that the Crock-Pot “cooks all day while the cook’s away”!  At this point, we should explain that all  Crock-Pots are slow cookers, but not all slow cookers are crock-pots. Huh? You see, Crock-Pot  is a brand name, in the same way that Jello is a brand of jello — er, gelatin!

Rival’s Crock-Pot was the first commercially marketed slow cooker. Initially it was marketed toward working moms who could toss meat and veggies in the pot before heading out the door, and then return home hours later to a hot cooked meal. The Crock-Pot sold millions throughout the 1970s, but then it seems to have fallen out of fashion. Perhaps its image as a slow cooker no longer fit in with the hyper-driven lifestyles of a newer, speed-obsessed generation.

Well, baby, the crock-pot is back! And we’re not ashamed to tell you we own seven of them! We use them for a variety of food preparations, and particularly during our Annual Soup Social. We plan this for Winter, then invite friends and family to join us for a meal featuring three or four hearty soups and stews. Our guests often pitch in by bringing their favorite breads or specialty crackers. The neat thing about having several crock-pots lining the kitchen counter is that our guests can help themselves to as much soup as they want, as often as they want; and the soup stays hot!

Irving Naxon invented the first slow cooker way back in 1936, and called it the Naxon Beanery. In 1970, he sold the Beanery to the Rival Company, which quickly changed the name to the Crock-Pot. (Can’t imagine why.) But where’d Irving ever get the idea for the slow-cooker in the first place? Well, many Sunday-go-to-meeting families owe the hot dinner that awaited them after church services, to Irving’s Jewish mother, the Sabbath, and … beans!

Irving’s mom often told him about a bean stew called cholent, which she made back home in Lithuania. She explained to her son that on the Jewish Sabbath, the day of rest, observant Jews aren’t supposed to do any work  — including cooking. But cholent slow-cooked all by itself. The stew went on the fire a little before sundown on Friday night. At sundown, the time the Sabbath begins, the ovens were turned off. Pots of cholent were placed inside the ovens, and the residual heat, over the course of 24 hours — all the way until the end of Saturday’s Shabbat services the next day — would be enough to complete the cooking process.

Sometimes the answers to our prayers are like cholent; the results are wonderful — but not immediate. The process of realizing our goals, or seeing our hopes and dreams come to fruition, is SLOW. It takes time to find and marry your soul-mate. The birth of a child comes after 9 months of expecting. It can take years to develop a good career, decades to fulfill a dream. But we need to develop “Crock-Pot Patience”! We need to learn to toss our cares and prayers into God’s hands and then get on with the rest our lives, confident that the answers, the breakthroughs, the blessings are being prepared — slow-cooked to perfection, while we’re taking care of other things God wants us to do.

In the Bible, David and Joseph waited years to see their dreams fulfilled. Moses, Joshua, and Caleb all waited decades to achieve their goals. Abraham and Sarah didn’t receive their Isaac, “the son of Promise,” until after a quarter-century had passed. But all these heroes of God’s Word had something in common. Call it “cholent confidence”: the process may be long, but it works … and the results are pleasing indeed! “…The LORD says: At just the right time, I will respond to you.(Isaiah 49:8 NLT)

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient for your sake.” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT)

“Write the vision; make it plain…. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; …If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come….” (Habakkuk 2:2-3 ESV)


Microwave Mentality (Angel in the Kitchen)


We’ve humorously mentioned our twin microwaves Luke and Nuke. They’re such a blessing that it’s hard not to get attached to them. They’re essential members of our family of kitchen appliances, and now we can’t imagine life without them. We can actually pop TWO bags of popcorn at the same time! Does it get any better than that?

Big Daddy! A Raytheon microwave oven — installed (rather fittingly, we’d say) aboard the first nuclear-powered cargo ship, the NS Savannah, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Microwaves make life a lot easier. And they speed up many kitchen tasks. A baked potato used to take over an hour in a conventional oven. A microwave gets the job done in a few minutes. Frozen dinners, originally packaged in foil trays and engineered to be heated in the oven, went from taking a half-hour to “cook,” to being ready in a couple minutes.

The microwave oven was “invented” in 1945 by Raytheon. One of their employees, Percy Spencer, a self-taught engineer from Maine, had discovered the microwave’s ability to heat foods by sheer accident. He was working on a radar system, when he noticed the microwaves being emitted were melting the chocolate bar he’d stuck in his pocket. Leave it to a scientist to react positively to such a revelation: “Wow, that is so cool!” versus “Yikes, my goose could’ve been cooked!”

Spencer quickly cobbled together a microwave device to try cooking other foods. First thing he microwaved was — surprise! — popcorn. (Orville Redenbacher really owes this guy!) The second thing was an egg, which — surprise! — exploded in the face of one of his technicians. Two years later, Raytheon filed a U.S. patent application for Spencer’s gift to humankind, and started manufacturing the first commercially available microwave ovens. Speedy Weeny purchased one, and installed it in a vending machine in New York’s Grand Central Station, allowing passengers to dispense “sizzling delicious” hot dogs.

It was two decades before microwave ovens were made available for home use. Raytheon’s first commercially available microwave was almost 6 feet tall, weighed in at 750 pounds, and cost about $5,000 — equivalent to about $53,000 in today’s economy — a mere pittance. But in 1967, Amana introduced the first kitchen countertop model. New technology and innovation allowed microwave ovens to be built lighter, smaller and less expensive.

Man, this phone app is really slow!

Isn’t technology wonderful? No, we really mean it. Technological advances are the reason computers went from filling up huge buildings and costing millions, to fitting in our cell phones — and being relatively cheap. Innovation has given us fast food, and then speeded up the process of take-out meals even further by giving us the drive-thru.

After taking a snapshot, we used to have to wait for days before we could see the results of the developed film. Then someone created the one-hour photo shop. But even that seems slow by today’s standards: now we just capture images with our phones and we can see the pics immediately. Life is good, right? It’s also really fast. High-speed internet, express checkout, instant oatmeal, and Jiffy Lube! Fast and convenient. But with all these time-saving innovations, many of us have gotten a “microwave mentality”: we want everything now!  And that’s only because we can’t have it “yesterday”!

Come on, come on, come on! Wish this traffic would move a little faster!

We’re living in fast times. We have accelerated lifestyles. We want to accomplish more in less time. This can be an admirable quality … until it becomes an obsession. Being in a constant hurry can be hard on your nervous system. People get impatient when they have to wait — even if it’s only a few minutes. When they get off from work, they start the mad dash to get home, which is why we call this time of day THE RUSH HOUR! But haste makes waste: fender benders take time to phone in and get repaired; speeding tickets are expensive, and police officers usually write them at a very leisurely pace — clearly, these officers are trying to teach a valuable lesson to motorists: SLOW DOWN!

As we approach the Summer months, we’d like to remind our readers to take life a little more slowly. Don’t be in such a frenzy to get this, do that, arrive there. Enjoy the journey. Take in the view. Stop and smell the roses. Calm down and sense the presence of the Lord.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10 NLT)