My mother lived with me for the last several months before she died. I was working full time and ad agency life is not 9 – 5. Not even close, in fact, it’s more like 12 and 14-hour days and lots of weekends.
So a colleague of mine kept insisting I get two things she swore would change my life: A George Foreman Grill and a slow cooker (not what you thought I was going to say, is it?) I was skeptical but she refused to let up and eventually I caved and bought both.
Bless you Sharon, you were right.
You see it was never just my mother and me I was cooking for. I didn’t want my mother to go to dialysis alone, I hired a couple of personal support workers and they usually stayed for dinner.
So I could marinate chicken, for example, while I was at work, come home, whip it out of the fridge, stick it on the grill for 20 minutes, make some couscous and a salad while the chicken was cooking and a healthy, delicious dinner was on the table, no muss no fuss. With the slow cooker I could brown some short ribs or lamb shanks or whatever else we felt like in the oven while I was in the shower, then dump the meat and all the vegetables into the slow cooker and set it for whatever time I’d be home and presto — a gourmet meal that took no effort on my part!
Totally stress free cooking.
Once my mom passed I occasionally used the grill, but never used the slow cooker again. I decided it was silly just for me or me and a friend.
This past summer I started a diet that required I eat a gargantuan amount of food, five times a day — three meals and two snacks. Healthy food, but the portions were huge. The only way to keep up was to cook very large batches once or twice a week and freeze some of it so I wasn’t cooking every day. Remembering the slow cooker collecting dust in my pantry, I went digging for it. Do I have to tell you what happened?
It slipped out of my grasp, fell on the flipping floor and the porcelain insert shattered into a million pieces. For about 10 minutes I could only stare at the mess in stunned silence. I eventually swept it all up into garbage bags, in between bouts of sniveling.
After spending countless hours trying, in vain, to find a replacement, I bought a whole new cooker — at a substantial discount thanks to a friend who gave me a great tip.
Why I ever thought a single woman had no use for a slow cooker I’ll never know. I am in absolute heaven and now that’s all I want to do. Make soups and stews and all kinds of delicious good-for-you comfort food in my great six quart Cuisinart slow cooker which, by the way, I can also use for browning and steaming.
Honestly, aside from a little prep, it’s like having a personal chef. For example, yesterday I spent 10 minutes washing and peeling celery and carrots, peeling and slicing an onion in half, smashing two cloves of garlic and washing some skinless, boneless chicken thighs. That’s all — 10 minutes!!! Dumped it into the cooker, added two bay leaves, salt, pepper and water, set the thing to low, set the timer for seven hours and went out for the rest of the day.
Twenty minutes before it was cooked I added some stellette (small pasta), removed and shredded the chicken and minced some parsley. That took about five minutes, if that. When the pasta was cooked I put the chicken back in, along with the parsley.
Dinner was served. Incidentally, I always thought (as did everyone who ever tried it) my mother made the world’s best chicken soup. Gotta say this one, a Real Simple recipe, may just be even better (sorry Mom).
Clean up was a breeze — just the insert to wash. They say it’s dishwasher safe, but I’d rather do it by hand. But I did put my bowl and spoon in the dishwasher.
Last week I cooked a delicious lentil soup overnight, while I slept.
So when I finally do move to that deserted island I keep threatening to move to, I will be bringing my slow cooker with me. My cats, my books and my slow cooker.
Talk about downsizing. I no longer need a kitchen.