The challenge for people who work, or people like me who, when I’m not on the road, sit at a desk and pretend to work, is balancing the other responsibilities in our lives that also need attention. Forget all that goes with having children, just preparing a healthy meal in the evenings is enough to throw my schedule off by a couple of hours.
I don’t subscribe to frozen dinners, pre-made main courses, or take-out unless there is no other alternative. I love a Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pie as much as the next guy but it’s not the healthy choice for our regular dinner routine. So, as the cook in my family, I’m always looking for a good meal that’s easy to prepare.
Enter the Crock Pot.
Oh, I was familiar with this marvel of modern culinary tools but I had always associated it with soupy, mushy, everything-tastes-the-same meals. I remember when my mom got one and proudly announced, “you turn it on in the morning and don’t worry about it until dinner.”
Until recently, I discounted it as a method that I, an amateur chef, would seriously consider. Our crock pot lived in the back of the cabinet and was never used for our nightly meals. But alas, I have changed my tune, or my menu as it were.
Last week, I tried two recipes in the Crock Pot. Seafood Paella and Coq au Vin. For each, there was minimal preparation and a full day of slow cooking which filled the house will wonderful aromas. The Seafood Paella was the first meal. It tasted like shrimp and scallop oatmeal. It was dreadful. The only thing worse than the texture was the smell. The Coq au Vin, on the other hand, was quite good. I was cautiously optimistic.
Suffice it to say that my OCD-ness leads me to overindulge whenever I find something I like. If I discover a new cereal, I’ll eat it every day for a year until I can’t stand it any longer. If I find a new restaurant, I’ll drag the family there weekly until we know the wait staff by name. And so it is with the Crock Pot. This week, I have prepared three meals in the slow cooker and all three were a success. Spicy Pot Roast, Chicken Cacciatore, and Red Beans and Rice. All tasty. And not too mushy. I’m becoming a big fan. In fact, I envision a sequel to this blog called Harry Crock Potter and the Prisoner of the Kitchen.
But the key is that it’s been good and fun. See where I’m going with this?
I don’t want to create unhealthy or tasteless meals for my family. But when the Crock Pot works, it’s not only a meal done well, makes my life easier and that, my friends, is more fun.
If you think this is a crock, you may be right. But just like my meals these days, let it simmer for a while and you may come around.