Irrational Fear: Crock Pots

I have several irrational fears, some more embarrassing than others.  One that I’m willing to publicly admit is my fear of a crock pot burning my house down. 

The whole premise of this appliance goes against basic logic:  Plug it in.  Let it get really hot.  Add liquids, spices, etc.  Then ignore, and even leave unattended — for hours. 


Didn’t you people ever attend Fire Safety Week assemblies in elementary school?  Next you’ll tell me you didn’t learn the Duck & Cover method with a healthy fear of Soviet nuclear weapons being aimed at your hometown.

My crock pot fire fear may also stem from this recurring conversation in my teens, always after getting in the car with my mother.

  • Mom:  Did you turn off the curling iron?
  • Me:  Uh.  I think so.  Can I get the new Duran Duran cassette?
  • Mom:  Is the curling iron on or off?
  • Me:  Uh.  I might have left it on, right next to that can of Aqua Net. 
  • Mom:  Turn the car around.  You’re going to burn the house down.
  • Me:  But I’m going to be late to the roller skating party…

{Yes, I used a curling iron *and* Aqua Net.  It was the 80s.  In New Jersey.  Snooki had nothing on us.}

Anyway.  Back to the crock pot.  I just can’t get my head around it.

But people swear by it, and I’m completely in favor of something that simultaneously makes my life easier and cooks good meals.  So let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that I tried crock potting.  If I were to do this on a day when I can remain at home, within extinguishable reach of the countertop, what should I make?  If you crock and it makes dinnertime less stressful, I’m all ears.  Please share.

Or, if you’ve had a crock-related fire mishap, tell me about that too.  Remember, I was the girl who may or may not have left the hot curling iron next to the Aqua Net (I think the spiral perm chemicals went to my brain).  I need all the safety tips I can get.

I have to go upstairs and check on the iron now.

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  1. Aqua Net!!! An old friend. 😉 I know…let’s post photos of ourselves from the 80s. Good times.

    I have never used a crock pot so I can’t contribute any recipes. My crazy fear is of pressure cookers. Those things are like bombs and I’ve heard too many stories of how my mother or grandmother were still finding some exploded concoction in the crevices of the kitchen three years after the blast. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, has no fear of a pressure cooker and makes this delicious dish called Autumn Stew.

    Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. See you later. I’m gonna go tease my hair. 😉

    • fordeville says:

      First, there will be no posting of my 80s photos here! Well, unless I start drinking & blogging. But feel free to post yours 🙂

      Second, it sounds like “Autumn Stew” is actually just an assortment of random combustible food items, perhaps with a spice or two. Bur kudos to your MIL for marketing the hell out of it into a legitimate meal. I think I like her.

  2. Casey says:

    I use my crockpot all the time (I own 3!) and…my house is still standing. I use it when I’m home sometimes, and other times when I’m out, running around. Use it one day while you’re home, maybe like in a snowstorm, and you will see how easy and safe it is.
    I love when my dinner is cooking by 9am and I’m free to do the million other things that I need to do (it also makes me feel like I’ve earned time for a nap).
    I have put a whole chicken in there with vegetables, made a pot roast, soups; all kinds of stuff. The other night, I made a slow cooked london broil….came out great! Boneless chicken thighs and a jar of sauce (doctored up, of course) goes a long way in my house!
    Good luck, don’t fear the Crock!

    • fordeville says:

      You are officially a Crock Star! I’m coming over for a tutorial.
      And, if your house is still standing after your four kids, I don’t think *any* appliance could bring it down.

  3. Oh my goodness!! I have the same fear. I’ve been wanting to try out a crock pot for years–basically because I’m lazy and also because the only way my meat eating boyfriend will eat veggies is in soup or stew. I finally found a 6 qt pot that has a timer so I would not have to leave it on all day…it could kick on at the appropriate time to have dinner ready by 7pm. And in preparation for using it in my new house next month (which actually has counters)…I asked my sister for a vegetarian crock pot cookbook. Now I realize that this wonder of a pot (which I have yet to unpack) is way too large for 90% of the recipes! LOL Should I return it and get a smaller “less safe” one that I’ll be too scared to use??

    • fordeville says:

      Yay — someone else with my fear! I feel slightly less freakish now, so thanks.
      I like this idea of a Crock Pot Lite — a kind of beginner’s version. Maybe you can double the recipes to fill the big pot? Or you could take the safety plunge with the standard Crock.
      You go first and tell me how it ends up 🙂

  4. Joanne says:

    I use my crockpot at least once a week. Pork loin, pot roast, the yummiest hot roast beef for sandwiches and chicken legs or thighs. The roast beef sandwiches are super easy. I got the recipe from I’m terrified of pressure cookers for all the reasons noted above. I have been known to live on the edge but it only goes as far as the crock pot.

    • fordeville says:

      I’m totally impressed. Seriously. If you have any of the links handy to these recipes (especially the roast beef sandwiches), please send!
      And it seems we’ve uncovered another kitchen fear trend: The Dreaded Pressure Cooker. I can’t even go there mentally…

  5. Reb says:

    I have to admit to loving the “living on the edge” element of leaving that thing cookin all day – its about as wild and reckless as this ol’ lady gets at 5pm on a wednesday. Go for it, live dangerously. Just cook your basic red sauce in there. Leave the aqua net and curling irons at Rite Aid and you should be totally safe.

    • fordeville says:

      Another wild & crazy woman!
      Now, red sauce, I wouldn’t have thought of that. I feel like the Italian in me has been groomed to do that the hard way. But I won’t tell my mom if you won’t.

  6. whitney says:

    I love my Crock Pot — and no mishaps to report, though I always use it on a weekend when I’m sitting 10 feet away. I think you should be much more concerned with those plug-in air freshener thingies.

    • fordeville says:

      But you’re a culinary maven, so you don’t count. In a nice way! We’re not even on the same playing field 🙂
      The air fresheners — I agree. Beyond freaky. Long-term exposure probably results in a third (and overly fragranced) arm.

  7. Erinn says:

    I have one and I rarely use it due to the same issues. Add to this that my house is old (1896) and the electrical wiring within it is, for the most part, the scary cloth-covered variety from the 30’s. This is probably the second to worst environment for all-day long appliance use. The first? The log cabin that I grew up in.

    Let’s just say that when you are raised in a house that is constructed of tree trunks every time you return to it you are somewhat surprised/relieved that something hasn’t ignited it. Ridiculously hot appliances don’t even factor into the mix.

    Your comment about the curling iron hit home. I am having the same conversations now with my nine-year-old regarding her “straightening iron.” The “look” she achieves by using this tool is no more natural than a spiral perm. Why she covets a scarecrow’s hairstyle is beyond me but she is consistently satisfied with the results. She begs me to use the iron and I struggle not to give her the Christmas Story retort: “You’ll burn the house down, kid.” (What if she did? How could we ever move on in life? We’d both be permanently damaged.)

    By the way, in case you are wondering how this device ended up in our home: Someone gave the God-forsaken thing to her as a part of a birthday gift last year when she was turned 8. Hello? I know I decided to live in NJ, but really? What about a board game?

    I really enjoy your blog — and I am lock step with many of your observations. In fact, I just booked a short trip to Paris for my mom, my daughter, and me after I read your to-do list: “Take my mom on vacation.” It’s a wonderful idea and one I have considered many times before but never executed (too busy, bad timing, new job, etc.). But if not now, when? Everyone is healthy and ambulatory. Gather ye rosebuds.

    P.S. Crock pot meals aren’t all that anyway. You can get the same results from slow stove-top or low-heat oven use with the right Le Creuset.

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks so much for the compliment! So glad you enjoy the blog — I completely appreciate you reading along and your witty replies (I am all for an Erinn blog, btw — I would love it).

      Paris! With your mom and daughter! Wow. I am so excited for you — and beyond jealous! Sounds just lovely — can’t wait to hear all about it, on your blog, of course.

      I remember your childhood log cabin and can totally appreciate what that does to one’s frame of reference regarding anything flaming or electrical.

      As for your daughter’s straight iron, tell her the Parisian tweens won’t find that chic — maybe global peer pressure will help? Good luck.

  8. Jen T says:

    I highly recommend Sunday, August 24th’s recipe.

    • fordeville says:

      OK, so the very existence of that website is fantastic. She is the ying to my yang, or something like that.
      And she makes *candy* in the crock pot? I could learn to love her. Thanks for sending — this is exactly what I need.

      • Jen T says:

        I’m all about random blog knowledge, lol. I don’t think there has been anything on there I’ve tried and haven’t liked. I especially like her reviews on things and whether they are worth making.

  9. jesswords10 says:

    The only thing I’ve ever used a crock pot for was making those stupid bbq cocktail weenies. My irrational fear is of baking. I detest the tediousness of it, the requirement to share after it’s done, and although I’ve made several good baked treats, I will never live down the time I greased the pan, and wasn’t supposed to. Look, cookies! Wait, I mean one giant chocolate chip blob covered pan that’s burnt. Oops! se la vie!

  10. jesswords10 says:

    I see, now I’ll know better for next time. 😉 Just don’t ask about the time I tried to make my own coconut milk. *sigh*

  11. Ed says:

    I was excited to get a new crockpot for Xmas. No, seriously.

    We use the crockpot tons, and no, I’ve not entirely gotten over the fear of coming home to a burnt-down house, with dinner still warm in the crockpot. Thankfully, it’s not come to that, and I was using my aunt’s old unit from the 70s.

    What’s awesome is its simplicity. We soak dried beans the night before, often chick peas, add some salt, pepper, water, and a couple bay leaves, and you have a variety of meals for several days, if not the week.

    • fordeville says:

      Another excellent and helpful endorsement — thank you. I have mentally committed to crocking up something this weekend. Will report back on final results and related safety issues.

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