Crock-Pot Promises (Angel in the Kitchen)

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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)

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Good Horse Sense!

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Dream BIG! However, never get too BIG for your dreams.

Inventors want their gadgets and gizmos marketed and used. Entrepreneurs want their products and services to perform well and to be profitable. Does it matter where the ideas and innovations are marketed or how? Not as long as those ideas and innovations are represented honestly and presented fairly.

Writers want to be read — by as wide an audience as possible. Does it really matter if the book is hardcover or a paperback, in print or available in an ebook format? Singers and songwriters want to be heard — in a variety of mediums. Should a musically-inclined dreamer sneer at an opportunity to perform for a local venue, be heard on a small radio station, or be produced by an independent record label? These are steps forward to bigger and better things, after all. So, should we underestimate or devalue any opportunity or venue? The simplest and most straightforward answer comes from God’s Word: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin….” (Zechariah 4:10 NLT)

Of course, not every person pursuing a dream is a “beginner.” Many may feel they’re well on their way to success, and that they’ve paid their dues; others may feel they’ve already arrived. Still, should these dreamers look down their noses at lesser opportunities to spread their talents and abilities? Before you answer, please allow us to share the following example of an actor who momentarily got just a little too big for his britches — and later regretted it.

Actors want to be seen. Right? And famous! And remembered! Remember Rocky Lane? He was a handsome stage actor discovered in the 1930s by a Fox Studios talent scout. But “Rocky” Allan Lane was never able to make it as a leading man in A-list productions. However, Lane found his niche, when he was in his forties, starring in a string of popular “B” movie westerns. During the 1940s through the early-1950s, Lane enjoyed enough success to be featured on kid’s lunchboxes. But by the late 1950’s he was back to smaller parts, mostly in TV westerns.

Only hardcore western fans and a few nostalgia buffs seem to remember those Rocky Lane horse operas today. Although he made close to four dozen of these short films, only a handful are available now. But the character actor got another — even greater — shot at immortality in 1961. Lane was in his early fifties by then, but apparently he was still tightly gripping the reigns of the idea he had “star” potential. When he was approached by a television producer with a steady job offer, Lane turned it down cold.

It was easy work in a weekly television series, but with good pay. The producer wanted Lane to provide the humorous voice for a wisecracking horse! Lane felt the job was beneath him; which shows how far Hollywood and actors have come since then, because Bradley Cooper, the A-list actor nominated for an “Oscar” for his lead performance in American Sniper (2014), recently supplied the voice for an ornery raccoon in Gaurdians of the Galaxy!

Well, the producer finally convinced Lane to do the voice, but the actor had two stipulations: he didn’t want an acting credit, and he wanted his part in the series kept a big secret. He wanted absolutely no association with the TV show. That wasn’t exactly using good horse sense, however, because Mister Ed ended up being a top-rated series during its six-year run, and is now considered a cult classic.

Make my day: Clint Eastwood happily guest starred in an episode of MISTER ED.

The scheming-but-lovable Mister Ed was so popular, in fact, that some of the biggest stars of the time wanted to play opposite the horse. A few who came on the show, playing themselves, included Clint Eastwood, Zsa Zsa Gabor, George Burns and baseball great Leo Durocher. And today — five decades later — people still fondly remember Mister Ed. He’s immortal, so to speak. Rocky Lane? Not so much. We’d never heard of him before we researched the show.

Leo Durocher (left) played ball with Mister Ed (literally). Right: Ed’s costar, Alan Young, playing Wilbur Post.

After Mister Ed became a hit, Lane decided he wanted that screen credit after all. Too late! The show was already crediting Mister Ed as playing himself — and the producers didn’t want to spoil the fun for all the kids watching by saying otherwise! Snort!

Horses may have been beneath Rocky Lane in all those westerns — literally — but doing  Ed’s voice, as the actor realized too late, was not. Too bad he didn’t come off his high horse sooner! (Sorry.) Moral: lighten up. Don’t take yourself TOO seriously. And above all, stay humble, no matter how much success you encounter. Dream big, but don’t get too big for your dreams! “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11 NLT)

Young (left) as Wilbur, and Mister Ed as himself.  Ed: “All us big celebrities just play ourselves!”
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