The thrift-store crockpot only runs when there is excess power from solar.

Note that power settngs like HI or LO are relative to the size and shape of the crock. LO (or the only setting) in a small crock may act like HI in a larger crock.

beans

Note: kidney beans and broad beans need to be cooked at >=176deg F for about 2 hours to deactivate phytohaemagglutinin. Check the operating temperature of your crock before cooking those beans in it.

in the crock in the bowl

Modified 4-3-2-1 recipe to fit the crock. (A)

dried beans, v1.0

2 qts water
25g salt
1# dry beans
some onion, chiles, whatever else is handy

Rinse beans.  Add beans and whatever other edibles are going in.
Dissolve salt in water, add to crock.  
Cook on HI for 5hrs or to desired texture.

I prefer my beans with some life left in them. More enjoyable eating, and they also reheat better for leftovers. I eat them with a blob of ketchup and small blob of sriracha.

potato recipes

baked potatoes

cooked served with cheese and sour cream baked all together without foil wrapping

baked potatoes, v1.1

scrub potatoes
rub with oil
salt lightly

cook for 5 hours on HI (LO?).  

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A+. Same as first batch, only did not individually wrap in foil. Same result, and less effort/expense. Also stacked the taters vertically and all got evenly done in 5hrs.

  2. A+. (first batch) Generic bag of potatoes. Served with butter, cheese, bacon, and sour cream (pic) Might try using crock-lining foil but not individually wrapping next time.

Plans: try white potatoes on LO

baked sweet potatoes

baked sweet potatoes, v1.1


scrub potatoes
rub with oil

cook for 6 hours on LO (3 hours on HI).  

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. B. First batch. Tried 5 hours on LO but not quite done. I would have gone 6 hours or cranked the heat but I started late and ran out of daylight.

vegetables

Veggies with different cooking requirements can be added at different times.

  • require longer times (add first): artichoke, rutabega
  • require medium-long times (add early): potatoes, sweet peas, turnips
  • require medium-short times (add late): fresh beans/peas, broccoli, carrot, cauliflower, leek, kohlrabi, parsnips, winter squash
  • require shorter times (add last): asparagus, okra, summer squashes, eggplant, greens, sugar snap peas, bell pepper

mixed veggies and potatoes

potato, onion, canned tomatoes, etc - in the crock mixed veggies cooked

mixed vegetables, v1.0

wash and chop vegetables
mix with bit of oil if desired

cook on high for ~3 hours
add cheese in the last half-hour

I don’t remember how long these cooked; guessing 3-4hrs on HI. Cheese added near the end. Leftovers were used for breakfast burritos in the morning.

bread

no-knead-bread

whole wheat no-knead loaf proofed in crock

These follow kaylee’s no-knead bread recipes:

no-knead bread, v1.2


yeast 0.50g
water 150g
salt 3g
flour 200g
 
Rising time is ~18 hours. 
Then cook for 2 hours on HI (4 hours on LO ~75w).

I generally cook on HI (150w) on my crock for 2 hours. I crack the lid about a pencil’s worth to allow humidity to escape.

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A. Let yeast sit in warm water for about 15mins with 1/2tsp of sugar. Mixed and poured into parchment-lined medium dog bowl and put in crock. Turned crock on LO for 30mins to warm then let it coast until risen a couple hours later. Cooked for 2hrs on HI with cloth between crock and bowl.
  2. B+. (first batch) wheat instead of white (all I had). 2 hrs on HI. Good flavor, exceptional crust. Didn’t rise much – it’s like a heavy peasant loaf or something.
  3. B+ wheat, increased yeast to 1.0g, 155g water, pinch of sugar in water to prime yeast. 2 hrs on HI. No change from original.
  4. B+ wheat, 1.0g yeast, 155g water, pinch of sugar in water and water preheated to 105f. Warmer ambient temps (75f day / 50F night). In situ. Update: temps fell into the 40s last night, negating the Warmer Ambient Temps experiement. I placed the crock on a heating pad and covered with a blanket a few hours before baking. No obvious increase in rise. Back to 2hr on HI. Absolutely no difference.
  5. B white flour. 1.0g yeast, 155g water, pinch of sugar in water and water preheated to 105f. Good flavor, a bit like sourdough. Much paler and less substantial than wheat versons. Crust also less hearty than wheat flour. Same 2” rise.
  6. C. wheat, 1.0g yeast, slightly more water, pinch of sugar in water and water preheated to 105f. Rise in situ in crockpot instead of transferring from mixing bowl. 4 hours on LO – didn’t like the crust as much.
  7. B. Wheat floor, water increased to 200g. 15g walnut pieces, some coarsely-ground black pepper.. Cooked in medium dogbowl; rose at least to 2x height but fell again by the next morning. Baked for 2.5hrs on HI due to increased water and bowl insert. Taller loaf due to smaller cooking bowl. Crust normal rather than hearty, will reduce water again. further info

banana bread

batter baked cooling

Based on this recipe.

Version 1.1

85g butter
150g light brown sugar

2 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
2-3 very ripe bananas

225g flour
8g baking powder
1g baking soda
4g salt

nuts or other inclusions

Cream butter and sugar.
Add vanilla, eggs, and bananas.  Mix well.

Slowly mix in dry ingredients.
Add inclusions if desired.

Bake for 2 hours on HI
Prop up lid slightly to control moisture.

Experiments:

  1. B+. First attempt. Had two large bananas. Batter was quite thick; poured into parchment-lined crock. Good flavor but edges were burned at 2.5 hours. Maybe 2 hours? or 1 hour on HI and 2 more on LO?

cornbread experiments

These follow the basic recipe described here.

cornbread, v1.1


128g cornmeal
50g sugar
14.5g baking powder
8.5g salt
96g all-purpose flour
73g oil
175g milk
2 eggs

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A. Whole wheat flour instead of white since that bag was already open. First try, and it was really good. cornbread Whole wheat definitely makes a heartier cornbread.
  2. B. Whole wheat. Added a half-can of creamed corn. Too wet, should have reduced water in ingredient list.
  3. B-. white flour. Slightly wet in top-center - will reduce water by 10g or so. White vs wheat not particularly noticeable.
  4. C-. Whole wheat. Not sure what I did wrong on this one; very wet. Mismeasured?

grains

rice recipes

Note: I now have a rice cooker and rice will generally cook better that way.

white rice

1c dry == 3c cooked

white rice, v1.3

rinse 1  cup of dry white rice
add 1.75c of water

cook for 3 hours on HI
turn off heat, remove lid and allow to cool

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A-. 1c long grain rice, 1.75c water. Cooked in medium stainless bowl in crock as before, but no water in bottom. Will discontinue using buffer water.
  2. A-. 1c long grain rice, 1.75c water. Cooked in medium stainless bowl in crock, about a 1/2” of water in the bottom of the crock for even heat. 3hrs on HI.
  3. C. 1c long grain rice, 2c water. Cooked in parchment in crock. 2hrs on HI. Gross, squishy.

rice pudding

based on this recipe

Also see the rice cooker version of this dish.

v1.1

55g of sushi rice
28g sugar
15g butter
2c milk

cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract / almond extract
stir, cook for 3.5 hours on HI, stirring again halfway through

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. B.. First attempt. I bought vanilla extract but don’t know where I stashed it. Dusted with cinnamon. Done after 3.5 hours. Sweetness barely perceptible with 15g of sugar; will increase. Incredibly messy clean-up. Need to try this in the rice cooker instead.

sushi rice and nori

on the seaweed cut up soy on top like a heathen

I like seaweed and sushi rice, but not necessarily the fish. And fish isn’t practical for me, economically or logistically.

In the past I have put picked Asian vegetables or similar in the rolls but I did’t have any of that that, so it’s plain..

Version 1.0

rinse 1 cup of sushi
place in 1 2/3rds of fresh water for 30 mins

cook in rice cooker
pour out into bowl or flat surface
add sushi (seasoned rice) vinegar to taste
cool/dry with a fan

place on nori as desired
add rice seasoning as desired
allow to sit until nori softens/conforms
slice as desired

Experiments:

  1. B+. First attempt in the van. Not a huge fan of the Nakano vinegar I found, but the Goma Shio sesame-based rice seasoning is good. Will source some canned kelp or pickled veggies for next time to add visual and flavor interest. I don’t have a ramiken for soy so I put some on top like a heathen.

plans

polenta

rice pudding

meat

pork loin

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A. (First attempt) I placed cut carrots, potatoes, and onions on the bottom and placed the black-peppered pork loin on top (came that way). 5 hours on HI. Very good. Bodes well for stews and roasts.

bratwurst

  1. A. (First attempt) Cut up the brats to make them fit the medium dogbowl, then cooked on high for about 2.5hrs. I think next time I will just curl them around inside the bowl.

ground meat

Alhough it doesn’t brown the meat the way higher-temp cooking does, a crockpot will cook ground meats (beef, pork, turkey, etc) to safe temps for use in recipes.

Italian sausage

Here 1lb of ground pork (Italian sausage) was placed in a steel bowl set in the crockpot:

raw

When checked after 2 hours on HI it was not pretty but was cooked through; 170F in the center (FDA recommends 160F):

fully cooked to 170F, no real browning

After another hour on LO the meat was visibly browning across the top and sides.

browned a bit

meat loaf

prepping served

Based on this recipe

meat loaf v1.1

LOAF
1lb ground beef (not too lean)
1/2 onion, chopped or packaged fried onions
6oz pkg of stuffing mix (sage or savory seasonings)
180g milk
1 large egg
2g salt [was: 4g]
1.1g ground black pepper

GLAZE
115g ketchup
onion reserved from amove
27g brown sugar
7.5g yellow mustard
9.5g vinegar
0.5g ground black pepper


PROCEDURE


Crush dry stuffing mix for finer texture if desired.
Mix loaf ingredients by hand, form into loaf in greased/lined crockpot.
Top with glaze.

Cook on LO for 5 hours (HI for 2.5 hours?) to at least 160F.

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A+. The best version so far was made with inexpensive 73/27 ground beef and a half-handful of walmart fried onions from a packet. Really, really good.
  2. A. Used 1lb of ground pork because it was on sale. Good, but not as good as the A+ fatty ground beef.
  3. Solid A. Was 160F in 4 hours on LO, allowed to continue to 4.75hrs at which point it was 170F and fragrant. Texture from stuffing is a bit too chunky; will crush stuffing mix a bit before mixing. Will cut salt to 2g. Enough for three man-sized meals.
  4. A-. Turkey meat loaf (pic). 1lb tube of Jennie-O ground turkey, w/chicken flavor stuffing mix since that’s what was in stock. 2g salt. I did crush the stuffing somewhat. Turkey requires slightly higher temps (165F. Flavor was very good, texture less firm than beef. I will do turkey again if the price differential is substantial.

eggs

hard-boiled eggs

in the crock boiled and peeled

hard boiled eggs, v1.3

place eggs in small amount of water; half-covered is fine
cook on HI for 1hr or LO for 2hrs.

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A. Third attempt - as before but 1 hr on HI with water in bowl but no water in bottom of crock.
  2. A. First attempt - 60mins on HI. 2 eggs in small dogbowl with about a cup of water. A bit of water in bottom of crockpot for more even heat. Water covering maybe 2/3rds of the eggs which were on their sides. Conserving water, so allowed to air-cool until I could handle them. Resulting eggs were fully cooked throughout, and the whites were of medium firmness.
  3. A. Second attempt - 90mins on HI. This wasn’t a separate attempt, I just let one of the eggs continue to cook while the first egg cooled. No real difference from the 60min egg; whites might have been a little firmer.
  4. B. Baking (no water at all). After 60mins on HI the eggs were done but were browned in the shell where the egg contacted the crock. Very little change in flavor but it was disconcerting. Will always use a bit of water going forward.
  5. D. Hard-boiling on LO in small bowl took 3 hours for soft-boiled. Will try again without bowl (just in some water in bottom of crock).

scrambled eggs

IMO this would better be done in the rice cooker.

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A. First attempt. Worked well but took 1 hour and cleanup was hard. Broke 4 eggs into bowl, added some leftover mozz (about 1oz) and sliced up the last two slices of hard salami. Lined crock with HD foil since I knew I would be stirring and dumped in egg mixture. After 1hr it was done and tasted great. Still poked a hole through the foil complicating cleanup.

pasta

dry-cooked pasta

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. D. First attempt. I winged this dry-cook pasta (no boiling) but only had a half-jar of pasta sauce. This was not enough for 8oz of dried pasta so it was not fully cooked after 5hrs on LO. Next time I will increase the sauce and /or add in a can of stewed tomatoes with water.

lasagna

done.  cheese melted weird and translucent but tasted great cottage cheese instead of ricotta was a little lumpy sauce as final layer on this one

Based on this recipe

lasagna, v1.2

1lb ground Italian sausage (precooked in crockpot)
~24oz of pasta sauce
oregano or other spices as desired
garlic, onion, or other allium

0.5lb uncooked lasagna noodles

0.5lb mozzarella
parmesan cheese 
12 oz ricotta or cottage cheese

meat sauce, noodles (double stacked), cheese - repeat 3x.
Finish top layer with remaining sauce and cheese.  

Cook on LO for 5 hours. 

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A. Dumpster lasagna. Only used 24oz can of pasta sauce because the 28oz thing is annoying. Didn’t have enough lasagna noodles so subbed in macaroni pasta to make up the difference, using slighly less due to 24oz/28oz issue. . Subbed cottage cheese for ricotta, as it costs much less per ounce; tasted fine but made the cheese mix a little lumpy. Used 1/3rd lb of leftover baked deli chicken since that’s what I had. Started off on HI because storms are predicted and I want to make use of power while I have it. Worked well, will reduce to 24oz sauce for the future.
  2. A. Had all the ingredients this time. First hour on HI, then 3.5 hours on LO.
  3. Solid B. Didn’t have ricotta with me. Forgot to add parm, didn’t have fresh garlic. Canned pasta sauce was 24oz so used the juice from a 14oz can of diced tomatoes (and ate the tomatoes with a spoon). Fully cooked when checked at 4.75hrs. Mozz cheese around the edges was quite browned but tasted fine. Might want to check after 4hrs instead.

pizza

in the crock cooling after cooking - 1st run

pizza, v1.2

trim pizza shell to fit if needed

precook shell with lid propped up for 30 minutes on HI

brush lightly with olive or other cooking oil
add sauce, mozz, toppings
cook for 1hr on HI

Experiments, from best to worst:

  1. A-. Second attempt. Pre-baked crust, then oiled before adding sauce and toppings. . Better but still not inspiring.
  2. B. First attempt. Mama Mary’s 7” pizza crust trimmed to fit crock. Bit of tomato sauce. Lots of mozzarella. Sliced sopressata. Baked 1hr on HI. Looked ugly but tasted good. Next time I will pre-bake the crust a while (on LO?) to toast it before adding other ingredients and baking.

pot pies

Hat tip to Kaylee for the idea.

15oz Marie Callender's turkey pot pie

Experiments, from best to worst:

  • Solid A - Marie Callender’s “large size” (15oz) turkey pot pie. Cooked on HI for 3 hours while driving. (related blog post) There were no normal 7oz pies at the grocery, but this larger one fit my 3qt crock nicely.

cookies

shortbread

first attempt second attempt

Based on this recipe. All the UK recipes I saw called for “caster sugar”, which is apparently a fine grind in between table and confectioners sugar.

v 1.3

180g flour
55g sugar
125g butter (about a stick + 1 pat)
1 egg (optional, see notes)

Pre-heat crock on HI.
Mix flour and sugar.
Work in butter until "bread crumby".
Work in beaten egg if desired.

Press into cooker.
Cook on HI for 1 to 1.5 hr with towel under lid
Remove, cut if desired, cool on rack.

Experiments:

  1. A. Added an egg after mixing ingredients based on a BBC show I saw about Victorian shortbread. Dough was more cookielike and harder to pack in the crock, but held up to removal and cooling better (pic).
  2. A-. Did not mill table sugar. 75 minutes on HI, could have used a couple more minutes.
  3. B-. 1st attempt. Milled table sugar for a few seconds in coffee grinder to try to mimic caster sugar. Edges burned at 1.5hrs, so 2.5hrs would have been lava. I read more and now am seeing more calling for 50-60 minutes. Will try that next time. Flavor is lovely beneath the scorching.
  4. B-. Overcast skies, so tried 3hrs on LO (75w). Flavor is good, but texture is more breadlike than cookie. (pic

Based on this recipe.

first try

Version 1.0

143g flour
3.5g baking soda
4g kosher salt
85g butter  (3/4 stick)
165g brown sugar
27g white sugar
2 eggs
4.5g vanilla extract
80g chocolate chips

cream sugar and butter together
add other ingredients

line crock with parchment or grease
place cloth under lid to catch condensation
bake 2 hours on HI or 4 hours on LO

Experiments:

  1. C+. (first attempt). Didn’t have time for 4 hours on LO so did 2 hours on HI. More like a brownie than a cookie. Good flavor, though.

leftovers

I used to put leftovers in ziplock bags but then realized that reheating them required dirtying up some container or a bit of foil. So I’ve started wrapping leftovers in foil, storing in the fridge until use, then reheating in the crockpot. A chunk of meat loaf as seen above will be reheated on HI for an hour or so.

tips and tricks

Note: it may be easier to remove things from the crock if one places a “lifter strap” under the item ahead of time. Think of those ribbons in a AA battery compartment. I use a piece of aluminum foil folded over and over into a strip.

If you have alternator charging installed, cooking while driving is a freebie!

plans and ideas

  • get a thriftstore poaching tray that fits and try that - raw eggs are easier to shell than cooked ones.
  • beef roast
  • muffins