We registered for and received a crockpot as a wedding gift. It's a lovely Crock-Pot Smart-Pot, and apparently they aren't making this exact model anymore because I can't find it on Amazon. It looks somewhat like this one, but this one gets really bad reviews and I like mine.

Anyway. Yay. Crock Pot. So... what does one cook in a Crock Pot? Ours came with a booklet of recipes: a lot of soups, stews, and soup or stew-like recipes. Which is fine, I guess, but not really what I was looking for.

Then somewhere about a month ago I ran across the blog A Year of CrockPotting. The author used her crockpot for every meal in 2008, as well as some art projects, and other random uses. There are some great recipes on there and she is honest about which were good, which were bad, and which were ok, but not really worth the trouble.

But the biggest, most wonderful, most exciting discovery I made via the Crockpot blog: that you can crockpot frozen meat! Maybe everyone knows this, but I did not and it really revolutionized the meat share for me. See, I have a freezer full of wonderful farm share meat -- frozen solid. And I'm not good at getting my act together in time to thaw properly. But with a crockpot, it doesn't have to be thawed properly, and we honestly couldn't tell much of a difference between what we thawed and what we didn't.

This opens up a whole new world of options: bookmark favorite recipes, grab a piece of frozen solid meat from the freezer at random in the morning, find a corresponding recipe, throw it into the crockpot and jump in the shower, just before we walk out the door, I'll stir the meat again to break up stuck together pieces, or just turn it once in the sauce. When we get home, I only have to worry about the quick stuff: steaming some green beans or sauteeing some kale or putting together a salad. The rest is ready to go.

We haven't done too many menus yet (holidays, etc.) but we've been pleased with what we have done. I tweaked the lamb chop recipe and served it with kale. We had peppercorn steak over barley. I made Vietnamese roasted chicken with chicken thighs. And right now it's working on a Thai chicken curry that looks wonderful.

(There was a blizzard yesterday--I couldn't see Boston across the river earlier. The Mass Ave. bridge faded into white--so this is great weather for something warm and yummy simmering in the kitchen.)