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)


Cinnamon Deceptions (Angel in the Kitchen)


We recently discussed the “11 herbs and spices” in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Remember the difference between herbs and spices?

Simon (right): “Sigh! I’m tired of performing this song about herbs. We need to try something really different.” Garfunkel (left): “Hm, let’s do one about spices.”

Herbs come from the green, leafy parts of certain plants. Basil, oregano, and mint are herbs; and the 1970s folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel included a few others in one of their somber songs: “…Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” (Of course, when we were kids we thought they were crooning about breakfast sausage and the sands of TIME.)

Spices are derived from parts of the plant other than the green leafy bits. Cloves (flower buds), ginger (roots) and pepper (seed pods). And then there’s … CINNAMON. Oh yes, how can we forget cinnamon. To mention that we love it would be an understatement. In French toast, how much cinnamon is enough? Answer: More!

Are there any songs that mention cinnamon? None we know. But the Bible signifies this aromatic and flavorful spice in several passages. It was included in God’s recipe for holy anointing oil, when “…The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh … of sweet-smelling cinnamon … and of aromatic cane … and of olive oil…; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil….'” (Exodus 30:22-25 RSV)

Solomon wrote “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.” (Proverbs 7:17 NIV) Other references to cinnamon are found in Solomon’s Song of Songs 4:14; and in Revelation 18:13. We like to think that the Creator of the Universe loved cinnamon as much as we do.

But what’s so special about this particular spice? Well, in addition to tasting and smelling absolutely divine, cinnamon is loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and it contains a unique compound called cinnamaldehyde. These components make cinnamon conducive to good health. Indeed, the spice is known to produce 7 health benefits. (SEVEN!! — Hey, that’s God’s favorite number!) Cinnamon: (1) can lower bad cholesterol or LDL; (2) help treat Type 2 diabetes; (3) has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties; (4) can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; (5) has anti-carcinogenic properties; (6) has anti-inflammatory properties; (7) and can help manage polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.

And did we mention it’s delicious in French toast? No wonder cinnamon was once valued almost as highly as gold, and was considered a gift fit for a king … or a god. Cool, right? But times change. So does “stuff”! Not all is as it seems. And not all cinnamon is really cinnamon!

The English word cinnamon can be traced back to the Hebrew qinnamon, a spice imported to Egypt from India. This is known scientifically as Cinnamomum verum. You may recognize the Latin adjective verum, from which we derive such words as TRUTH and VERIFY (as in “Trust … but verify!”)

“True Cinnamon” is produced from the inner bark of an evergreen tree that’s native to Sri Lanka. TRUE cinnamon was rare and expensive during Biblical Times. It was delicious, aromatic, and had many health benefits. It’s what God requested be mixed into His Holy anointing oil.

But there’s another spice currently marketed under the name “cinnamon.” It’s less expensive and more readily available. It’s produced from the bark of trees originating in China and now cultivated throughout Asia. Spice manufacturers call it Cassia, to distinguish it from the real deal. Cassia looks like cinnamon, tastes like cinnamon — but contains none of the cinnamaldehyde or antioxidants that promote true health.

To the contrary, Cassia contains massive concentrations of a blood-thinning compound called coumarin. Consuming large amounts of this ersatz cinnamon (as a health supplement, for instance; or maniacally tossed it into French toast batter) can lead to kidney and liver damage.

Who knew that something traditionally prized and sought after, something beneficial and even Biblical, could be replaced with something TOXIC? But again, the same can be said of many things, including the evening “news” and a lot of stuff that gets posted on the internet. So we can no longer accept things at face value.

Nor can we always go by the “label.” This also applies to people — who often aren’t what they seem or proclaim to be. How many of us have learned this truth the hard way? How many of us have trusted someone only to find out too late that he or she had a hidden (and self-centered) agenda? Even the Bible warns us against “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” (Matthew 7:15)

Toast or toxic?
Toast or TOXIC!

Let’s be clear on this point: Not everyone who calls themselves a “Christian” is truly a follower of Christ. Again, labels are convenient and ultimately can be deceiving. Even Satan sports a misleading label. Many of us (thanks to pop culture) imagine him as this red dude with horns and a pitch fork, but the Bible states, “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14 NLT) Why? Because he is “a liar — indeed, the inventor of the lie!” (John 8:44 Complete Jewish Bible)

In regards to all things, ask the Lord to help you distinguish the truth from the lie. Ask Him to grant you the ability to discern truth from error. And always do a little homework. Ask yourself, “Does this or that line up with the Bible (the infallible Word of God)?”

“Is it nourishing and beneficial? Or is it something spiritually toxic in disguise. Above all, is it TRUE?”

Don’t swallow life’s “cinnamon deceptions.” Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (John 24:4 NKJV) The Lord also said, “Not all who sound religious are really godly people.” (Matthew 7:21 TLB) “The way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit produced.” (Matthew 7:20 TLB)