Thank you all for taking the time to leave comments, recipe links, and opinions about using a crock pot.
Arija, I am sorry that you lost so much in the bush fire. I appreciated your minority opinion, which gave me a smile. When I was much younger, I was an extremely disorganized hostess. We used to tease my half sister and her husband about my lack of preparation. They would drive up to our house in New Hampshire from theirs in Massachusetts, maybe a two and a half hour drive. When they arrived, we would visit for a while, then I'd say, "Well, I'll just nip out to the garden to harvest some wheat to make the bread for supper."
It wasn't far from the truth, when describing my meal-preparation habits. Those poor people had to wait once while I made hamburger buns from scratch, and then while I ground the meat for the burgers!
I really, really wanted to show them that I could have a meal mostly prepared and ready to put on the table for them, so for their next visit I bought a crock pot and made spaghetti sauce, which simmered all night long before they came for supper one Saturday. I was so pleased with myself, but only until we tried out the sauce. It had really simmered to death, the herbs had long lost any flavor, and the consistency of the meatballs was that of canned dog food, as best I can imagine it!
This time, many years later, I am ready to try again. Thanks to all your advice, I have bought a crock pot (actually two!), and a couple of cookbooks as well. I plan to follow directions and see if the modern crock pot is all it is cracked up to be, Arija's opinion notwithstanding!
I'll let you know how it all works out.