My relationship with my Crock-Pot has been one of rapture and rejection — for decades.
A great meal here, a mediocre one there. And a slow-cooker yields such big honkin’ quantities that a mediocre dish means endless less-than-mediocre leftovers. Stovetop or oven cooking generally yielded better results in less time.
Sometime last year I decided, enough of that. I looked that Crock-Pot square in the eye (which is somewhere around the temperature knob) and said, "Prove yourself to me, or I am turning your space over to a food processor."
But the pot having no free will, the proving was left to me. I spent months combing new cookbooks and searching online sources, and I tried to use the dang thing once a week. A great inspiration was Stephanie O’Dea, who created the blog "A Year of Slow Cooking" (crockpot365.blogspot.com), based on her mission to use her Crock-Pot every day of 2008. She also has two "Make It Fast Cook It Slow" cookbooks published by Hyperion. For beginners to this culinary genre, O’Dea’s blog or books are great launch points.
Why bother? Because a slow-cooker theoretically saves money and energy. It allows you to cook a meal while absent from the house, which saves time even as it takes time. And low-heat, long cooking is supposed to draw out maximum flavors.
Thus my quest, my Crock-Pot crusade.
Then, as if to fortify my mission, came an e-mail from Joyce Kimura: "I was wondering if you have ever printed any ‘local’ recipes using a Crock-Pot. As a working mom with twin infants, I am often struggling to find ways to save time when it comes to cooking meals."
You and me, both, Joyce. And so, my goal: great, uncomplicated local-style Crock-Pot meals. I’ve hit on a few (see ‘Related Stories’ box below), but I’m sure many more are out there. I plan to continue reporting on this crusade on the first Wednesday of every month through 2011. And I invite participation from other knights-errant. If you have a favorite slow-cooker recipe, send it here. If it ends up in print, you’ll win a cookbook for sharing. If you have a particular Crock-Pot request, send that here, too.
Onward. We follow that star, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.
Surely it won’t come to that.
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