I love my crock pot. It is the ugliest-ass thing you’ll ever see, but I love it with the passion of a thousand burning suns.
A few posts back, I talked about how much of a time-saver menu-planning is. Taking that a step further, you can squeeze more time out of meal prep by using that delightful invention known as the slow-cooker. Put simply, slow-cooker food is food you can ignore while you write.
We all know how useful a crock pot is when it comes to making pot roast, stews, or soups, but don’t discount the versatility of this wonderful kitchen invention. Right before you go to bed, you can set the slow-cooker on low with 3 cups of oatmeal, 6 cups of water, chopped apples, raisins, dried cranberries, and nuts (sweeten with honey or brown sugar any time in the process), and wake up to oatmeal ready to go in the morning. On cold days, you can keep cider or cocoa (or wine with mulling spices) simmering on low all day and into the night, for a hot drink at hand. You can even bake bread in it.
Slowing Down Lets You Speed Up
One thing to remember about cooking with the crock pot is that crock-pot cooking does not evaporate liquid like oven cooking does. In fact, if you have been following along (and really–the six of you mean the world to me, so thanks for sticking with me!), you’ll know of my summer experiments in solar cooking resulted in making a similar discovery–stuff doesn’t brown the same way in a moist-heat environment, and moisture doesn’t evaporate when the heat source is diffuse enough. So when you’re adding ingredients for a crock-pot dinner, you can cut back on the water or broth called for in the recipe (unless it’s a recipe specifically for slow cookers).
Another thing to remember about slow-cooking is that you have to do it in the morning if you don’t want to eat in the middle of the night. This may require a little bit of flipping of your schedule so that dinner prep comes before lunch, rather than after it…or possibly the day before if you really want to be up on things.
Of course, if you’re meal-planning already then you know what you’re making ahead of time, and it’s a simple matter to take the prepped food out of the freezer and set it on the counter or in the fridge to defrost overnight.
Okay, quit laughing, I know not even I am that prepared and together all the time. But in exchange for shifting around my dinner-prep time, I get extra writing time in the afternoon, while I’m ignoring my cooking dinners until the clamoring of starving children has penetrated my productive haze.
I mean, I don’t have to tell most busy moms about the crock pot–any time there’s practice, rehearsals, lessons, or any other after-school stuff, we turn to our crock pots. But maybe we need a reminder now and then, because it’s just as easy to turn into the drive-thru, and the fewer meals eaten in the minivan, the better.
Links For Kitchen Slowpokes
The Savvy Slow-Cooker – oodles of ideas from cdkitchen.com
Slow And Simple – All crock. All the time.