I’ve come to love my crock pot. Not like puppy love where you love them until they chew up your camera cord. Not like brotherly love where you love ‘em cause you have to. Not even the love you have for your new high heels that cause a world of pain.
Just sheer, undying, perfect, unconditional love.
Let’s just say I hope to feel about a man some day how I feel about my crock pot, which ironically I’ve nicknamed “the hubby.”
Why wouldn’t I call it the hubby? If not for my own amusement, at least others think I’ve got it made. “The hubby spends all day cooking for me.” “I love everything about the hubby.” “The hubby is the best cook I know. “The hubby made me dinner again.” “The hubby cleaned up real nice after dinner.” “The hubby looks great lying on my counter…”
Okay, so my weird jokes probably only amuse me, but I’m afraid not everyone knows how awesome a crock pot can be. My mother never cooked anything in a crock pot, so how would I know? In fact, I didn’t even know what a crock pot was until my friend continuously shared her excitement about the delicious meal being cooked while she sat at her desk job for 8 hours a day. After mentioning it 10+ times, I finally inquired.
“So what is this crock thing you talk about?”
“Oh, you just toss stuff in and it’s always delicious. You can make basically anything.”
“You leave it on ALL DAY?”
“Does it ever burn?”
“Start your house on fire?”
“Cost a lot?”
“Turn into mush?”
“Like…. What do you do?”
I look back now and can’t believe confusion could come from something so simple. Maybe a few others aren’t familiar with crock potting, or like me, are unsure of what exactly to do, scared of messing up and suffering through six meals of unappetizing mush. Others maybe need a reminder of the convenience of these meals, especially this time of year when everything from your doors to your nose hairs is frozen and a nice, warm meal would make your day.
There are hundreds of recipes available for appetizers, drinks, desserts, soups and dinners. In addition, for the most part recipes take a few minutes to prepare and are more low-maintenance than your beer-guzzling unemployed ex-boyfriend… and they smell better too.
So, if you don’t have one, I highly suggest you get one (a crock pot, not said boyfriend). You can find them for under $20, and of course researching recipes is not only free, but it’s fun. Some of my favorites are pulled pork (pork shoulder roast and barbecue sauce), pulled chicken (chicken and barbeque sauce), pork chops (soaked in cream of mushroom soup), and roasts (roast with beef broth, carrots, potatoes, celery, onions, and whatever else you like).
As you can see, it’s a real science. There are just a few rules:
1.) Make sure you allow at least 8 hours for cooking. You can cook it in less time on high, but it’s called a “slow cooker” for a reason.
2.) If in doubt, toss it in! Onions? Sure! Wine? Why not! Hot sauce? Heck yeah! You get the idea. (This is within reason. If you dump in mayonnaise and Cheetos, don’t come crying to me.)
3.) If the meat feels tough (doesn’t shred, or is chewy), cook it a few hours longer.
4.) Place the cooker on the top of your stove. There have been rumors of the heat from the crockpot taking a toll on countertops. It could be B.S., but I don’t care to find out.
5.) Keep the lid on! It’s fun to look, sniff and poke, but it’s not recommended, especially in the first few hours.
6.) Save your cash and buy the less expensive roasts and meats. Anything will taste good after cooking that long!
7.) Get creative. Even if you can’t find a recipe for something you think would be good, try it! It just might end up being your favorite.
8.) In your excitement, don’t forget to plug the crock in and turn it on. Wouldn’t THAT be stupid?! Not that I know what it’s like, but coming home to a raw slab of meat soaking in room-temperature water would be really, really disappointing. Really.
9.) Rest assured, and be confident! As long as you use common sense, you really can’t screw this up.
10.) Don’t cook noodles for eight hours. If you’re making something with noodles (stroganoff or spaghetti), cook them separate, just before you’re ready to eat.
Questions? Comments? Let’s hear ‘em!
Shootin’ the Wit is a column about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.