When I used to think of crock-pot recipes, I thought of cold winter nights, a fire blazing in the fireplace, the house and kitchen a refuge against the wind and snow outside. How cozy to sit down to a piping hot stew that had been simmering all day! Then I moved to Los Angeles where the temperature dips to the low sixties during the winter requiring (perhaps!) a light sweater and the only fire blazing is an artificial one. I had to rethink my slow-cooker use.

I've come to realize that slow-cookers are very convenient. Not only are they good for Shabbat lunch but for weekdays as well. Throw everything in the morning, go to work or to fulfill other responsibilities, and come back at the end of the day to a delicious dinner. They're great on vacations too!

Here are just a few of the hundreds of possibilities of recipes for the crock-pot. Most should be cooked on high for 8 – 10 hours. If you are making it for Shabbat lunch, cook on low instead, and make sure it is at least half cooked before Shabbat. All recipes are for a 6-quart crock-pot.

Mushroom Barley Soup (pareve)

1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped (optional)
1-3/4 cups barley
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup red wine
2 teaspoons dill
1-teaspoon black pepper
1-teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in crock-pot. Add water until pot is full. Cook.

Beef Chili

2 pounds ground beef
2 handfuls kidney beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 can (29 ounces) tomato puree
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies
1 can (4 ounces) sliced black olives (optional)
1-tablespoon chili powder
1-teaspoon garlic
1-teaspoon black pepper

Place all ingredients in crock- pot. Add 2 cups water. Cook. Serve over white rice.

Lamb Stew

3 pounds lamb stew
1 medium onion, chopped
1-cup white cannelini beans
1-3/4 cups barley
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-teaspoon black pepper
1-teaspoon cinnamon
1-teaspoon salt

Place in crock-pot. Add water to fill pot and cook.

Chicken Stew

1 chicken, cut in 1/8th's (you can throw in a few extra drumsticks if you like)
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
10 potatoes, cubed
1-tablespoon chicken soup mix
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups dry white wine

Add all ingredients to crock-pot. Fill pot to brim with water and cook. Serve with crusty bread to sop up gravy.

Everyone has a cholent recipe. So last but not least…

Cholent

2-3 pounds short ribs
10 potatoes, cubed
2 cups barley
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons honey
2 loaves prepared kishke (optional)
 

Place ingredients in crock-pot in order listed. Place kishke on top if using. Fill to brim with water. Cook.