Jiminy Crock Pot! We’re Eating Hot Food Again!

The Fruit Vendor, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

This last month I discovered the existence of the crock pot.

No, not crack pots. Very funny.

I’m talking about the slow cooker, which, theoretically one fills with goodies at the beginning of the day, plugs in, and walks away while the veggies and the meatsies burble away until evening, when one wanders back in, lifts the lid, and says, “Mmmmm. Dinner’s ready guys!”

I played with the crock pot years ago, back when they were considered a modern convenience, but gave up because I wasn’t impressed with the sad gray mass of soggy drippings awaiting at day’s end.

Lately, though, with dinner more often than not consisting of graham crackers with peanut butter and a glass of milk, I started longing for a hot, savory meal, even a gray one, that would cook while I worked.

And when I stumbled on America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution in the library, I was bought, sold, trussed and tied. There’s a picture of lasagna on the cover that looks nothing like graham crackers, and the photos inside had me reaching for the phone so I could find some place to call and order what I was looking at.

I spent a serious Sunday on the hammock reading every single recipe and making a list. I spent hours  tracking down Thai green curry sauce, lemon grass, golden raisins and portobello mushrooms.

Waiting, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

Oh, and I also picked up a crock pot. Not the $129 model that the book recommended, but the $20 special, which, as the book warned, runs a little hot, so that my Low is High and my High is Extra Crispy, and there’s no way I’ll put something on in the morning at any setting and recognize it by 5 p.m.

So it’s not a Slow Cooker, necessarily, as it is a Rather Quick Cooker, but since I’ve got the $20 invested, along with the groceries, I’m coping.

And we’re eating hot food again.

Thai, Mexican, Italian, German, Moroccan, Chinese, and Biblical, the latter being Shepherd’s Pie, and what’s more Biblical than that other than pottage, but who wants to eat pottage especially when it’s made in a crock pot?

Along the way I’ve discovered a novel concept that has never been a part of my cooking experience, and this is actually following the recipe. I learned to not follow a recipe from my mother when I was a teenager getting to know Betty Crocker:

Tropical Medley, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

“Mom? What are pimientos?”

“Are you making that tuna casserole recipe? For God’s sake, just put tuna in it. Pimientos are slimy things in jars and they don’t belong in tuna casseroles.”

“It calls for green peas.”

“Green beans will work.”

“Cream of Celery soup?”

“Don’t have any. Use Mushroom.”

“Corkscrew noodles?”

“Noodles are noodles. There’s a half pack of macaroni in the back of one of the cupboards. Oh, and I don’t think we have any tuna. Use Spam.”

It’s a wonder that anything I make looks, or tastes, like the recipe title.

But since crock pot cooking carries the risk of being distressingly unappetizing even when you do follow the recipe, I thought it worthwhile to disregard my mother’s teaching for this one endeavor and slavishly do what I was told — by the cookbook, not my mother.

Now generally, when you disregard what your mother says, you pay dearly, but this time — this ONE Time — I successfully ignored my mother (don’t make a habit of this), followed the recipe exactly, even down to not replacing anything with Spam, and reaped compliments in abundance with happy smacky sounds, second helpings, and even verbal statements of approval.

At this rate, I may even try that tuna casserole recipe again — in the crock pot, and with pimientos, whatever pimientos are.

Washed Ashore, by the Norwegian Artist, Steve Henderson

About This Woman Writes

Carolyn Henderson is the marketing manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She writes about life, art, and the art of life.
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7 Responses to Jiminy Crock Pot! We’re Eating Hot Food Again!

  1. Ok, Carolyn…you have touched a nerve deep in my viscera! There is amazing stuff to be discovered when you get adventurous and a bit lazy at the same time.
    Try Schlemmertopf, or its spin-offs. This is the amazing world of Clay Pot Cookery. ( It is for when you have not thrown things into the Crock Pot in the morning.)

    You begin by SOAKING THE UNGLAZED LID IN WATER! Then while it’s soaking, you throw things into the clay pot . I’m extra lazy and put parchment paper in the bottom leaving some to lap over the food before putting the lid on, thus easing cleanup. The recipes are easy or can become more complex if you like….there are a few that come with the pot and plenty more online..
    You put in your layers of stuff and a small amount of wine or broth or juicy stuff. You pop on the soaked lid and put it into a COLD OVEN. (told you I am lazy.) Then you turn the oven on to something like 450 F. You DO NOT LOOK for half an hour. Then carefully lift the lid away from you (there will be steam) and poke it to see how it’s doing. You will already have “real food” in there looking and smelling great. Put the lid back on quickly and return it to the oven .It will cook another half hour more or less, unless it’s a whole chicken or roast. If it needs to be crispy you can take the lid off for the last ten minutes of cooking. Or, if you like, turn the oven off before those potatoes and carrots are completely tender and just let it sit until mealtime. It will cook itself!

    Easy. Easy, Easy, and you almost cannot miss with this thing, given the comparability of the ingredients. (Don’t use pimentos with apple crisp.) Susan.

  2. Schlemmertopf — I have never heard of it, but a name that sounds like this can’t be technically beyond me. I really like the Easy Easy Easy part, and I’ll go Googling this.

    No pimientos with apple crisp. Sigh. I was thinking that I could use the balance of the jar (they do grow in jars, don’t they) in a salad, soup, souffle, and dessert.

  3. william wray says:

    Don’t paint when angry–? nonsense. Best way to let it out. It’s called expression.

    • One can’t stay angry all the time, and if the impetus for one’s artistic genius depends upon maintaining a negative emotion, then one has set oneself up indeed.

      Excellent painters are skilled at what they do, and any skilled person — a surgeon, plumber, furniture craftsman, artist — knows that his ability will be hampered by fury.

  4. William, I have a few of these expressionistic paintings in my collection. They are only meaningful to me. I do keep them. The are self portraits in more ways than one… including documentary evidence of what fury looks like when it’s on my face. So I can agree about letting it out in paint.. but not for anyone’s edification except one’s own! I shall not direct you to images of these works of art. I don’t share them with anyone.

  5. Jana says:

    Three thoughts:
    1. Bet the sales and check-out rate of Slow-Cooker Revolution will go nutso!
    2. What triggered the “Don’t paint when angry” comment? I wholeheartedly agree with your response.
    3. Because of your entry about mini-minds, I wrote a letter of appreciation to our County Librarian – thank you for the push.

    • Jana: yes, I noticed a number of people hitting the link to the Slow Cooker Revolution book!

      The don’t paint when angry comment was directed to William Wray’s comment, somewhere on this page. It stems from the article on fine art news — http://faso.com/fineartviews/33554/in-your-anger-do-not-sin-paint-or-write — William must have hit the link here from there, and left the comment here. All it means is that I sound random and disconnnected, which is not unusual, according to my progeny.

      I imagine your county librarian is still in a state of pleasurable shock. I am glad to have been a part of this.

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