Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by mira. mira Wonders, “How do you use a crock pot?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, mira!

Is there anything better than the smell of a roast cooking all day long in a slow cooker? Of course, having to smell the roast all day long can make you hungry the whole day. But the final product is worth the wait, isn’t it?

Many kids are used to fast food. When you’re in a hurry and on the run, it’s an easy solution. Just hit a drive-through for a burger served up hot and fast. The slow cooker, though, is sort of the opposite of fast food.

Unlike quickly fried fries or chicken nuggets, foods made in a slow cooker are cooked for many hours. In a world that places such a high value on speed and efficiency, this may seem odd. How did the slow cooker earn its spot on the kitchen counter?

Slow cooking is a method that’s been around for a long time. It was used by ancient peoples to make tough meats and root vegetables softer and easier to eat. The slow cooker popular in kitchens all around the world today is a more recent invention, though.

Sometimes called by a brand name such as Crock-Pot® or Slo-Cooker®, the modern slow cooker started as a bean cooker.  Called the Beanery, it was made by the Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago. In 1970, the Rival Company bought Naxon. It quickly realized that the Beanery could be used for many foods other than beans. That’s when the Beanery became the Crock-Pot® slow cooker. 

In 1974, Rival redesigned their slow cooker. It added a removable stoneware insert. This made cleaning up and storing food very easy. Today, slow cookers are a favorite of cooks everywhere. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some even have advanced features, like multiple heat settings and timers.

How do slow cookers work? They simmer the food. This means that foods are cooked at lower temperatures than other popular cooking methods, such as frying or baking. It also means that foods must be cooked for many hours, rather than just a few minutes.

Unlike other cooking methods, though, slow cooking doesn’t require a lot of supervision. Once you’ve prepared your ingredients, put them in the slow cooker and set the time and temperature. Then you can leave the slow cooker to do its work on its own. Just check in occasionally to keep an eye on its progress.

The low, steady temperature of a slow cooker allows foods to be cooked evenly for a long time. The fats and connective tissues in tough meats break down over time, making them more tender. The juices of the various ingredients mix together to form WONDERful new flavors.

You’re probably familiar with certain popular slow cooker dishes, such as roasts and stews. However, slow cookers can cook more than just these favorites. Would you believe that slow cookers can be used to make pasta dishes, casseroles and even delicious desserts? It’s true! There seems to be no end to the tasty dishes you can make in a slow cooker.

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.4

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