Using the Crockpot Instead of the Oven
I'm making ribs today (pork ones, of course -- no beef!). Now, I'm not the world's greatest chef or anything, but I do ok in the kitchen. Nearly every night there's a nutritous, home-cooked meal on the table, all prepared by yours truly. I used to really enjoy cooking but now that I'm working three afternoons a week, Daphne has given up her afternoon nap, and 5 pm is either fightin', whinin' or racin' time at my house, I look for whatever shortcuts I can take.
One of my favorite shortcuts is the crockpot. In fact, I love it so much that I own two of them. Super-consumeristic, I know, but one is for really big dinners and the other for smaller dishes -plus I bought them before the Compact.
But back to the ribs. Normally, I would wrap them in aluminum foil, toss them in the oven at 300 for two hours, then throw them on the grill for a nice, crispy finish. Today I am trying something new. I cut the long set of ribs into five smaller sections and threw them in the crockpot on HIGH where they will sit for 5 hours. Then I'll pull 'em out and toss them on the grill. What's the big difference? I thought you'd never ask.
Well, besides the fact that I'm saving a 2 foot length of aluminum foil (which ends up so food-encrusted that it can't be recycled), I'm saving oodles of electricity. Using my super-geeky-cool Kill-A-Watt device, I discovered that my large crockpot, when set on high, draws 260 watts. Compare this with my oven which has a kW rating of 8.7 (that's 8700 watts). So even though I'm more than doubling the amount of time spent cooking, I'm greatly reducing the energy required to do so.
Oven - 8700 watts x .001 x 2 hours = 17.4 kWh
Crock - 260 watts x .001 x 5 hours = 1.3 kWh
Pretty simple to see that using the crock is saving me over 16 kWh. If I can use the crock once a week, instead of the oven, I'll be saving 64 kWh a month -- 832 kWh per year. That's another $8.32 :-) Who says "going green" is expensive? Most of my changes save me money. Maybe I should rename the blog "going cheap". Would you still read?
Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5
I already own two cookbooks devoted to crockpot cooking so I should be set on recipes for at least a full year, maybe more. Plus, it really cuts down on the late afternoon craziness around here. I've even heard tell of a clever woman who makes her crockpot dishes the evening before and stores them in the fridge overnight -- thereby eliminating all the chopping and mixing work the next day, while simultaneously guilting her hubby into giving the kids their baths while she is "working on supper". Wow, she sounds really smart, doesn't she? ;-)