Should I be afraid of my crock pot?
Growing up my parents rarely cooked in crock pots, and when they did, it was always when we'd be home for the duration of the cooking. My general rule is that no appliances (certainly no heating appliances) get left on when I leave the house or go to sleep...but lots of people seem to think nothing of letting the crock pot cook all day while they are at work! Is anyone else afraid to do this? Am I being silly? Does everyone else leave crock pots and ovens at low temps on while they sleep or leave the house?
I leave my corckpot going no problem. It is a new one that will switch itself to "warm" after a certain length of time (determined by me.) The oven I never leave on when I leave the house.
Never left the stove on while not home but I have left the crock pot on all day. My fear with the oven is that if I get stuck in traffic, get a flat etc., that 3 hour dish could readily burn and maybe catch fire say on hour 5. I'd have much less concerned if my crock pot, set on low, runs an extra two hours. Most crock pot recipes have a lot of liquid and it'd take a lot to dry the recipe out. BUT, my wife once left the crock pot on 3 (out of 5) and we came home to dried out, burnt short ribs. Still, they were dried out and burnt, but still not near catching fire.
I have abandoned crocks for pressure cookers but I have browned things in my LC and slowly braised in my oven, even, gasp,when I had to leave the house. With the pressure cookers it is no longer an issue.
I don't do this for safety, but I usually plug my crock pot in outside. We have a little covered BBQ area and I put it there when the weather's not too cold. I assume this would allay your fears, if you have them, of leaving the pot in the house all day unattended. I do it because I use the crock pot to make stock overnight and I hate the smell of chicken broth simmering while I sleep.
There's no real difference between leaving a crockpot on and leaving a light on - they both get hot, and in fact the lightbulb probably gets hotter. So stop worrying. There is no fire hazard, no glowing filaments anywhere.
Odd the range of tastes and tolerances among us food-lovers: I can't imagine any nicer smell to wake up to than chicken broth, unless it's an overnight-cooked cassoulet...