Sad Week for Slow Cooking

I have a confession.  I’m a compulsive stirrer.  If there is a pot on the stove, I MUST stir its contents every few moments.  If there is a pan on the stove, I MUST stir its contents every few milli-moments.   I bought a slow cooker last weekend on the advice of my parents.  I was hesitant…as a compulsive stirrer, could I leave food unstirred in a slow cooker for hours and hours on end?  The answer turned out to be yes.  Being at work all day, I didn’t have to fight the urge to stir.  But that turned out not to be my biggest slow cooking problem.

My first attempt at slow cooking was last Monday.  Black bean chilli with butternut squash, a recipe I found in a cookbook at Half-Price Books.  I wrestled with the butternut squash, the most difficult vegetable I have ever encountered, until it submitted to little orange cubes at the bottom of the slow cooker topped with the rest of the ingredients.  I plugged it into the outlet, put it on low, and went to work.

On my drive home, I began to dread returning to my chilli.  I knew that some of the outlets in our apartment didn’t work; had I plugged it into the wrong one?  I finally arrived home.  The apartment smelled like an apartment.  Not like dark, hot black bean chilli.  I found that my chilli was unfortunately chilly.  I ended up having pumpkin oatmeal from this lovely recipe, which was just fine with me. : )

I tried again with a Jamaican rice recipe on Tuesday night.  I put it the slow cooker on low.  I tested the outlet with the toast oven.  Check.  After checking up on the rice, it was still cold so I decided, heck I’ll just put it on high, I’ll be up late anyway.  It worked, but I didn’t read the instructions to add water so the rice was not soft enough.  (With how many times a day I say, “Follow the directions” that was pretty embarrassing.)

I couldn’t find the energy to try again and unfortunately ended up going out for food almost every night, including Twisted Root Burger Company for a wonderfully juicy buffalo and blue cheese burger with fried pickles…not the healthiest dinner, but delicious.  I haven’t tried any other burgers in Dallas, but these are damn good and the restaurants have a quirky, laid-back feeling that I enjoy.  When you order your food, you’re given a name instead of a number.  This time I was Jessica Alba.  My past identities have been Princess Leia and Buttercup from the Power Puff Girls.

Fried Pickles

Last night I tried a spiced cranberry orange drink in the slow cooker, cooked on the high setting.  (Cranberry juice, orange-pineapple juice, cloves, cinnamon sticks, brown sugar) I figured, how could I mess up a drink?  Thankfully I didn’t, so I took my cup of liquid fall, got under the covers, and watched a House marathon on Bravo.

Emboldened by success, I decided to try making some pineapple chicken today.  I put the slow cooker on low and left the house to avoid the urge to stir.  Six hours later it was in the same condition I left it in.  Finally I discovered that the outlet wasn’t to blame all along.  The low setting on my slow cooker was defective. A pound of organic chicken goes in the trash.

I took it back to Target, annoyed, and bought another one.   Slow cooking, which was suggested to me as a way to make cooking for myself more convenient, turned out to be a huge inconvenience.  I’m hoping that it will actually turn into an appliance I’ll use (unlike, perhaps, my mini kitchen blow torch.)  I’m looking for recipes and trying to work this out, so if anyone has any suggestions, let me know.  You may be helping me break my stirring addiction.

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