1. Slow cookers vary in size, and every unit has a small variability in cooking times. Allow extra cooking time while you learn the particulars of your device.
2. A Crock-Pot's ceramic insert is hardy, but it can crack. Always thaw frozen food before adding to the pot. And allow the insert to cool before washing, especially if you're using cold water.
3. Kidney beans should be brought to a boil before slow cooking to destroy a toxin that low-temperature cooking won't. The toxin, with the unpronounceable name of phytohaemagglutinin, causes digestive distress. Easier, of course, is to use canned, precooked kidney beans.