Monday, January 30, 2012

JOT #30: Tortoise cooking

The hare was fast, but napped and made a last minute dash for the finish line. The tortoise was slow, and steady, and won the race.

A familiar story in my kitchen, where an hour before dinner, I might scream, "Aah! Dinner!" and scramble to make something presentable before Little One comes whining for milk (aka I'm hungry).

If I could only remember to be the tortoise more often, slow and steady and planned. Instead, I occasionally rely on my slow cooker, or crock pot.

I inherited it from my mother, who used to make casseroles, but not too much else in it, an old-fashioned device with only three settings: Off, Low, and High.

It's simple: you put foods in with a bit of water, turn it to low or high, and let them cook. It can take anywhere from 1 to 10 hours to cook in this ancient machine, sometimes longer, and things will get homogenized (put in cabbage, and the whole thing will be flavored with cabbage). But what comes out is slow-simmered and flavorful in a way you can only replicate by standing over a stove for a day.

I like to cook beans and lentils in it, because they take time - they don't even necessarily need soaking much before you put them in. You can simmer a vegetable stock in there (add veggies, cover with water, cook).

You can make a simple soup: vegetables, some beans or lentils, water, salt, spices.

You can make chocolate cake, though my experience with this results in more of a fudgey pudding (my pot is truly ancient).

Look for ones with a porcelain or ceramic interior, not nonstick (you'll be cooking in it for a while). Check the instructions for the settings. Borrow one first to see how you like it. If you'd like to borrow mine, let me know!

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