Thursday, July 25, 2013

Slow Cooking in the Age of Instant Gratification

Well I finally did it. I bought a slow-cooker or what we used to call a crockpot. So far I have made beef-barley soup and some really good chili. And I did it without heating up the entire house. It is simply awful trying to cook in the middle of summer. The oven gets so hot that it heats up the entire second floor of my house. The kitchen/family living area becomes a sauna, and that is with a new air-conditioning system.

Now the impetus for this experiment basically came from me ruining a really nice eye-round-roast. I usually cook this piece of meat as a pot roast, steeping it for hours on top of the stove. Sort of my own version of Beouf Bourguignon. (That classic french dish is supposed to be cooked in the oven.) But I wanted  to not heat the house up by having the stove on for hours on end.

What I did was to try to cook the eye-round as a roast beef in the oven for a short period of time like the recipe I found on-line recommended. And was... awful. The meat was not tender. It was overcooked. It had no flavor despite the myriad number of spices I used. Note: I saved the meat and actually added it to the beef-barley soup. By the time the soup was done the meat was tender and turned out great.

So the hubby suggested I try a slow cooker so the roast would be soft and the house not get overheated. The boys agreed. Rather quickly too. I do have to say that I am not a bad cook (maybe not a gourmet but a descent enough cook) and quite frankly they do tend to eat what I make for them. Except the oldest one does complain when I make chicken. (HERE are some of my recipes including for chicken.) My chicken generally comes out really moist if I do say so myself.

My take on this chicken issue is that he has simply gotten it into his head that he doesn't want to eat chicken. OK, it could be a textural problem associated with his "issues." But not everything your child doesn't deal with well is related to their sensory processing neurology, and not every quirk is part of their autism. He could just have decided he doesn't like chicken. For no other reason than he simply doesn't like chicken, just like anyone else in the world. Honestly don't know how that happened or during what time period actually, but we have finally come to an understanding that when I make chicken he has to eat a few bites at least. (The nutrients are important.) Funny he doesn't mind fish, which is usually the protein to which most people object. (This statement of course, does not to include veggans, either lacto- ovo vegetarians, or vegetarians of any persuasion.)

I did go online the next day after the roast  fiasco and order a nice slow-cooker. A Cuisinart to be exact. It came with a little recipe book. Well lo and behold I am enjoying myself with the slow-cooker. Though in the middle of summer you do not tend to cook stews or anything that takes along time in a pot. But it will be nice to explore using it in the future as the weather gets a little cooler.

The soup and chili I mentioned above were mere experiments.  Each item took over 6 hours to cook. You could smell the spices come together as the food cooked away. It simply wets your appetite for dinner. In this age of fast food and instant ramen noodles, it is nice to know that we are capable of waiting for food and retain the ability to enjoy a real meal once in awhile.

By the way people are sending me slow-cooker recipes too. If you want to add any of your favorite recipes in the comments below please do. Sharing recipes is always alot of fun.


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