The idea of a crock pot, I am told, is to put all the ingredients in the cooker in the morning and leave it to do its stuff. When you get back in the evening, you're just in time for a great dinner of hot stew...love it. However, my question is, how do you get the meat cubes to be just right tender without having the vegetables turn to unappetizing mush?
Interestingly, they tend to work just the opposite; vegetables take longer than meat. Something to do with the moist heat. Also, be selective about your choice of meat. For example, chuck roast, with its fat and connective tissue, fares better with long, moist cooking than, say, cubes of round steak, which turn out very dry in a slow cooker.