As I walked through the grocery store aisles a few weeks ago, I noticed the increase in prepackaged slow cooker meals. I’ve been using my slow cooker and reaping the rewards for years, so it was no real surprise to me when others started proclaiming the benefits of cooking with a crock pot. Why did it take the rest of the country so long to catch up? With this increase in popularity, I’ve recently been asked by a few ‘newbies’ ‘What’s so great about slow cooking anyway?’ That’s an easy question to answer even if all you’ve ever done is make chicken stew with your slow cooker. It’s just so dang simple and the food tastes better when cooked slowly and evenly in a crock pot. I’m a work at home mom. I operate a Family Child Care and also have a busy online business, both of which keep me going all day long. That on top of my daughter’s activities and the in and out nature of my husband’s business, we’re usually searching for time to sit down and eat, especially eating together as a family. There’s where the slow cooker comes in handy. I have tons of slow cooker recipes, and can find just about anything to cook that my kids and picky husband will like to eat. Since I work at home, having the kitchen stay a comfortable temperature is a must, as I spend quite a bit of time there preparing meals and snacks for my day care kids. I use my crock pot year round, and love its usefulness during the warm weather months when I can fix the beginnings of the meal in the morning when I’ve got other ‘stuff’ out on the counter anyway, put it all in the pot, and then clean up the whole mess when I’m done. The crock pot requires very little clean up itself, so there you have yet another major reason for why slow cooking is so great. For those of you who work away from home, consider this scenario: As the day goes along, the slow cooker is busy fixing your meal for you, and when you walk through the door at the end of another grueling day at work, your dinner is waiting. All you need to do, depending on the recipe you’ve selected, is prepare a side dish or salad, add some bread, set the table, and call the family in to eat. Simple, simple, simple; and very satisfying to come home to. Here is a favorite slow cooker recipe that you can try with your family. I’m sure you’ll all love it. Country-Style Crock Pot Chicken 6 carrots, sliced 6 celery stalks, sliced 8 chicken pieces 1 can (10-3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup, undiluted 1 envelope dry onion soup mix 1/3 c or chicken broth 2 tsp cornstarch Slice vegetables place in crock pot. Place chicken on vegetables. Spread undiluted soup over chicken. Sprinkle dry onion soup mix. Do not add any water. Cook on High 4 hours, or until chicken is done. Stir often. 10 minutes before serving, mix broth and cornstarch. Pour over chicken, stir well. Serves 4.