My favourite kitchen gadget is my crock pot. I went without one for the first two years I lived on my own off campus and I know how I did it, but I wish I hadn’t.
One day, almost two years ago, shortly after I moved into the place I live in now, I noticed the grocery store had some stock of kitchen gadgets in. They don’t always, so when they do, I like to peek at what I could have: the coffee makers, blenders, rice cookers, toasters, crock pots, deep fryers. I wanted a crock pot. Pretty badly actually. But they’re way to big for me. What am I supposed to do with 5 or 6 quartz of soup? I am one person with freezer space shared between four completely unconnected people. I can neither eat that much food nor store it.
And then, I saw it. Two quartz of delightful cuteness for less than $15. A small crock pot, perfectly sized for me! I couldn’t resist. I brought it home, imagining the soup, the chili, the stews I would make in it. I borrowed a crock pot cook book from my mom, planning to expand my repertoire beyond the standards.
Of course, things didn’t work out that way, exactly… As much as the crock pot industry might want you to believe it saves time, it really doesn’t that much. You still have to put the work into preparing food to cook. A crock pot is just an oven you can leave on when you leave the house. While in school, I tend to gravitate towards quick and easy: stir frys, chicken fingers and fries, prepackaged meat pies, plenty of granola bars, clementines and pears. And coffee. My eating habits aren’t the healthiest. And while working, I don’t have time to throw together a chili in the morning to cook for 8 hours while I’m at work.
So, my crock pot sat in its cupboard, pulled out occasionally, mostly on Sundays so that soup can cook while I’m at church, smelling delicious and perfectly warm and ready to eat when I get back. And then, I got Tuesdays and Thursdays off this semester.
Perhaps it’s a way of procrastinating. Or maybe it’s just a way for me to enjoy my morning. But I’ve been finding myself more often waking up, eating breakfast and cooking. Last week, I cut up and fried some pork, mixed it with left over mashed potatoes, a can of creamed corn, broth, and a (bad) combination of spices to make corn chowder. (Unfortunately, the addition of onion soup mix made this a complete flop. I’m going to try to save the leftovers somehow… for now, they’re freezing.) The week before that, I made a (slightly imperfect) chili. (I learned the importance of tomato paste.)
The best part about all of this: the crock pot makes enough for about four servings for myself. Even if M is around, I’m still left with half a crock pot of good food after we’ve both had our fill. I throw it in old yogurt containers and freeze it in my fridge. When I feel like using my crock pot again, I pull something out, add whatever is appropriate and in my pantry and conveniently have four more servings, two of which go right back into the freezer!
M has a big crock pot, 6 or 7 quartz I think. I’ve done a small ham in my small crock pot, but I’m kind of looking forward to having a bigger one to try things like a roast, slow cooked in beer, or a whole chicken.
Do you have any favourite crock pot recipes?