Monday, February 23, 2015

The Critical Mom's Crock pot

Or slow cooker, if you're British or Australian.  I was wary of mine, since the first few times I cooked a meat-and-vegetable dish the carrots stayed hard--as did the potatoes--while the meat was overdone.  I've learned to avoid all those beautifully illustrated recipes on the net that show somebody throwing a bunch of whole carrots into a crock pot, topped by potatoes, topped by hunks of meat, and glorified with five-star ratings.  Nope, it ain't quite that easy.  But here's what really does work, and really is pretty fast:

(1) Boil some water in your electric water kettle and pour into a big pot on the stove.  Keep heating that as you boil another kettle.  Add some sea salt.

(2) Meanwhile, wash, scrape and slice carrots into smallish pieces, also wash and cut into slices potatoes, and throw in pot.  Let cook around fifteen minutes.

(3)  While the potatoes and carrots are cooking, slice and toss into your crock pot peppers (around two big ones), zucchini, onions, and maybe peas.  And/or sliced celery.

(4) When you can easily push a knife into the potatoes and carrots--but they shouldn't be totally soft-- drain them and add them to the vegetables in the crock pot.  

(5) Take your chicken breasts (with bones is better--the bones add flavor) or your stew meat--and brown them in vegetable oil or olive oil.  The former is currently believed to be the heart-healthy choice, but the latter has more flavor, and if you read as many online health pages as I do you know how frequently ideas about what is really heart-or-total-body healthy change.  Do trust your instincts.  I'm assuming your instincts don't run to prepared foods and sugar shock, because if they did, you wouldn't be reading this recipe, would you?

(6) Back to the water cooker.  Pour boiled water into a large coffee cup in which you've put a tablespoon of dry chicken broth and another of dry soup greens.  Stir and let dissolve, pour over vegetables.  Add more water until the vegetables are nearly covered.  Add a bay leaf or three.  Pour in a little dry white wine (around 3/4 cup) if you're cooking chicken.  Use dry red wine if you're cooking chunks of pork.

(7) Put the browned chicken or stew meat on top.  Add garlic salt and freshly ground pepper.  Cover with lid and set the crock pot to high.

Your meal should be ready in four hours.  Enjoy!

P.S. Another pleasant addition is a Hokkaido pumpkin.  You don't need to peel it.  Just wash, cut, throw away the seeds (they're no good cooked--only regular pumpkin seeds taste good baked with olive oil and garlic salt).  Saut√© with a little garlic, add water or chicken broth, let cook a bit, then add to the pot.

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