Each year, there are changes for all of us and that includes the world of slow cooking. For the Crock-Pot brand, those changes have taken on an eye to the future with a “smarter” approach.

One of the newly launched Crock-Pot slow cookers has “Smart Cook” technology that simplifies the programmable cooker. Cooks select the base protein they will be cooking and choose what time they would like it to be ready. The cooker then determines cooking time and adjusts power as needed. It can also be used in manual mode of Low, High and Keep Warm.

The Cook and Carry Crock-Pot features specially designed stoneware that maintains serving temperature during transportation or entertaining. A travel temperature gauge lets cooks know food temps once unplugged.

Another new item is a connectable entertaining system where as many as six units can hook up using a single outlet or they may be used apart. It’s a way to customize the entertaining process while fitting into available space. There is also the automatic stirring slow cooker, which features a stirring attachment designed to cook foods more evenly and make cleanup easier for cooks.

Both the Crock-Pot connectable system and the automatic stirrer will be available in the fall. The brand’s website is http://www.crock-pot.com.

David Worthington, group marketing manager, slow cooking, Jarden Consumer Solutions, said slow cooking will continue to be driven by consumers, especially in a social media generation.

“Product usage continues to climb as social media has given consumers even easier ways to share recipes and spark ideas. Many consumers are sharing the benefits of slow cooking that include: Lower per meal serving cost, energy savings, and one pot solutions to meal time. New products and recipes being shared will only continue to allow consumers to use their slow cooker more often.”

Whichever slow cooker you use, a hot, sloppy sandwich can’t be beat as school activities start winding down and graduations are celebrated. Just make sure there are plenty of napkins available.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at juliekay1@cox.net.