vegetable soup crock pot 009For most of my adult life  a crock pot has been a staple in my kitchen. My current version is starting to show its age and I’ll be replacing it at some point over the next few weeks. Until recently, however, I’ve always thought of a crock pot as something to use in the late fall and winter.

A few weeks ago, a friend commented that she was making a roast in her crock pot. I was shocked, and asked, “Why are you using a crock pot in the summer?” Her response, “I use a crock pot a lot in the summer, because it doesn’t heat up the kitchen like the oven or stove do.”

Eureka! How had I missed that obvious, and wonderful, aspect of crock pot cooking?

So now I’m starting to think about things I could actually cook in my crock pot right now. I’ve mainly used mine for homemade soups (bean and/or veggie soup, primarily), stews, and at times chili. I’m thinking that even if it stays hot, chili sounds pretty good right about now. However, neither hot soup nor a hearty stew sound appealing in the heat. It’s obvious I need some new crock pot recipes to make better use of this kitchen tool

Do you use a crock pot? If so, what are some of your favorite things to make in one? And since I’m in the market for a new crock pot, what are some features that you like in your crock pot?