or, if you prefer...
Either way, it is a simple little machine that is worth ten times it's weight in pie. And you should know by now that I really, REALLY like pie, so that's saying something.
I recently bought my THIRD crock pot. Not third as in, "I had one, and then it died and so I bought another, and then that one died, and so I bought one more," oh no. I mean "THIRD'" as in "I have three working machines at my disposal." I'm a tailgate party waiting to happen!
My love of the crock pot is deep and wide.
Deep and wide.
This love affair probably began when my second little man made his entrance into the world. I had the unparalleled joy of having dinner delivered from folks at our church every other day for TWO SOLID MONTHS and then... then I was on my own.
I was on my own with two babies only 14 months apart. I had one cranky, hold-me-every-second, oldest baby and one sweet, but very tiny, and very reflux-ish, newborn. Honestly I don't know how I managed to brush my teeth and tie my shoes each day, let alone cook.
And then I discovered that the crock pot could do more than just make queso for Super Bowl parties. You can actually cook in it!
I'm not kidding when I say that for probably two solid years we ate from the crock pot, no less than three nights a week.
See, it never failed... around 5:00 or so, the normal "what shall I make for dinner?" hour, both babies would be cranky and needy and then, despite my best intentions, my ever-patient, loving man would come home, AGAIN, to "um... there's cereal... and maybe a can of tuna..."
He never seemed to mind, but I did. I felt like there had to be a better way.
Then I discovered the possibilities of the crock pot, and it all changed. I could throw something in during that blissful 4.3 seconds when they BOTH slept and, voila, it would be miraculously ready at dinner time. Will wonders never cease?
After a while though, the boys got bigger and we moved out of survival mode. Our tastes grew slightly more complex. I began, once more, to actually take pleasure in thinking and planning meals. I learned to love cooking alongside my men. I read Animal Vegetable Miracle and the two peach books. We learned to bake bread together. We made our own jams and grew our own pesto. And the crock pots (the TWO that I owned) began to gather dust. In retrospect I sort of felt like those crock pot days were my culinary Dark Ages. I had done what I had to do, but I wasn't proud of it.
And then... then we reached this pivotal new year in homeschooling. (If you want you can read all about it in parts 1, 2 , 3, and 4). We have reached a day when my men's interests are growing... there are now fiddle lessons and guitar, karate and AWANA. And yet still, I NEED for there to be calm in the kitchen, peace at the dinner table.
I NEED for us to sit down to dinner together. I need to feel connected and calm, even on the days when our schedules are full.
So in order to make that happen, I have resurrected the crock pot.
Only this time, something is different.
This time, I've learned to inject a little art into crock pot cookery. This time it isn't just about filling the tank, it's about binding the hearts and souls that encircle my table.
In the coming day or two, I'm going to share with you some of the tips, tricks and recipes that have resulted in what we call "fast slow food."
We are headed to our state's Renaissance Festival tomorrow, but we will be back and ready to talk about feasts fit for kings by Friday.
Until then, I'd love to hear from you... what's your go-to freeze ahead or make-in-a-jiffy meal? How do you keep dinnertime simple? How do you slow it down, even on the hectic days?
See you soon, friends!