So. I got this lovely new Crock-Pot from Crock-Pot because they were very worried I only had an old one that I wrote about a couple of months ago. Apparently they’ve changed a lot, and I was willing to test out the new advancements. The fact my skills haven’t advanced since Grade 7 home ec shall remain a secret. This new one is big enough to cook for probably 12, which means it’s perfect for the 4 of us. I only joke slightly; I like to make enough of whatever it is I’m making so there are some leftovers, but I’ve discovered a funny thing happens on the way to dinner. Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself.
The beauty of these things is that you can chuck everything in and leave the house. For a control freak like me, this means I chuck everything in and sit beside it. I trundled through the recipes on Crock-Pot.ca, and then some others. Food Network is good, too. I found out the entire world of culinary arts can take place in my Crock-Pot. Well, maybe not mine, but you know what I mean. There is absolutely nothing someone hasn’t tried to make in a Crock-Pot.
I knew I had chicken thighs, which I have to disguise because my sons are little elitists. Either that, or breast men. Anyway. I started checking for recipes that had the things I already had. This was yesterday, and soon after I got up, I realized you have to get this party started early; that’s the whole point. No way was I running out in my jamas to pick up anything when I know how good I am at improvising. Roz just coughed when she read that.
I found a recipe for chicken cacciatore, which we always called kitchen cacciatore when I was little. I reasoned this would probably be goof proof, and happily started chopping up the things the recipe called for. I’ve noticed all Crock-Pot recipes tell you to put a bunch of sliced onions in the bottom first., I guess to make a little rack for the meat. Actually, I’m sure if you’re making peach cobbler or something, you don’t put onions in first. Who are we kidding; I’m never going to make peach cobbler.
I hacked up the meat, tossed it in. I was supposed to combine a bunch of stuff in a bowl to pour over it. It said 2 cans of tomato paste. I miraculously had 2 cans. It said a bunch of different spices, but I read the side of the little pouch called ‘Italian Seasoning’ I have, and decided that this is an Italian dish, and that little pouch no doubt covered most of the bases. I dumped it in. Garlic (which I would have put in even if it wasn’t called for; I’d even put garlic in my non-existent peach cobbler), olive oil, salt and some stuff. It called for white wine, but since I drank all the white wine the night before, I used chicken broth (and put white wine on the shopping list).
It said you could put in red pepper flakes. I couldn’t find any, and I couldn’t remember if cayenne seasoning was red pepper flakes ground up, but I tossed some in anyway. It called for a diced green pepper, and I only had a yellow one. It was starting to get a little pinched looking, but I decided that is the magic of Crock-Pots: you can hide anything in there. I kid you not: preparing all this sounds like it took me hours, but it took ten minutes. Including adding wine to the shopping list. In it went. This snazzy Pot has settings and timings. I pushed buttons until it said ‘low for 8 hours’. Then I spent the next half an hour lifting the lid to see if it was on. It was.
Soon, the problems started. Ari came down two hours later. “Did you make soup? What smells so good?” He lifted the lid before I could stop him. I don’t think you’re supposed to lift the lid. From what I can figure out, a Crock-Pot is like a hot terrarium, and has to be left to do its business, uninterrupted. Instead, we were doing Crock-Pot, Interrupted.
I told him it was dinner. He nodded his assent and left. By 2 in the afternoon, both boys were hovering. It smelled great. It smelled done. I told them it wasn’t. I gave things a little poke. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to poke, but it occurred to me that most things that take time to do their thing move around, like a washing machine or a rock tumbler. I reckoned a little poke now and then couldn’t hurt.
The whole house smelled great. The fact that dinner was already taken care of was great for me, and a stunning revelation to the boys. The problem?
They ate dinner at 4:00.
Oh, and No Frills has whole chickens on sale. I am soooo going to buy one and throw it in this Crock-Pot. On a bed of onions.