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You can thank Chicago for the Crockpot

By City Cast Chicago | @CityCastChicago


The Crockpot has been a household staple for more than 50 years, due to its convenience and affordability — toss in what’s already in the fridge, set the time, and go! And it was invented right here in Chicago by Irving Naxon, who originally called it the Naxon Beanery.

Naxon had other notable inventions, but his Crockpot inspired many to make slow cooking a way of life.

Meg Barnhart and Jane McKay from Lake Forest started their blog, The Zen of Slow Cooking, in 2012 and created a line of spice blends that now sell at places like Whole Foods.

City Cast talked to Barnhart: (edited for length)

How did The Zen of Slow Cooking start?
When I became a young mother, I found myself struggling constantly trying to get food on the table, and I called my best friend one night sort of crying, saying, ‘I’m really a failure, I can’t even get dinner on the table.’ She said, ‘Stop crying, get off the phone, and go buy a Crockpot.’ The house filled up with this great aroma. It really freed me up from the kitchen and helped me bring everyone back around the table. 

Favorite recipes for the slow cooker?

This season:

  • Squash and Black Bean Chili 
  • Italian Bean Soup

What are some things that people wouldn’t think would be good to make in a Crockpot, but are?

  • Chocolate Pots de Crème
  • Curried Lentil

Is there anything that just doesn’t work in a slow cooker?
Something like risotto I don’t think does really well. We are also pretty committed to using the right cooking modality for the right product as opposed to trying to retrofit something. 👉 Check out more recipes from the Zen of Slow Cooking.

👉 Check out more recipes from The Zen of Slow Cooking.


▪️ A key part of getting CPS students back in classrooms was a promise to get 100% of families to consent to COVID-19 testing. Can the district reach that goal by Feb. 1? [Chalkbeat Chicago]

▪️ New COVID-19 treatments are available for high-risk patients, but supply is short in Illinois as production ramps up. [Chicago Tribune]

▪️ You can now order four, free COVID-19 tests from the U.S. Postal Service is sending households. [USPS]

▪️ New area code, who dis? [Chicago Sun-Times]

▪️ It could feel like 20-below this week 😭 [Block Club Chicago]

Correction from yesterday’s newsletter: According to Block Club Chicago, the man who pulled a knife on a manager at El Trebol Liquors and Bar in Pilsen did show proof of vaccination. It was his friend who did not have proof.


+ TODAY: MSI Free Day
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We asked you for some of your favorite spots to hit up in Chicago. Imani kindly replied to our poll on Instagram with a few of her go to spots!

  • Grab an Italian sub from Bari’s in West Town
  • Macaroons from La Fournette in Old Town 
  • An espresso martini at Lincoln Park’s King of Cups

👉 Send us more hidden gems here!