Fast, Slow Food, Volume 2

by Stefani on 4-November-2009

Slow Cookin'

So, as I was saying, the crockpot is making a come back in this house. 

Now, as with most come backs, this, at first lead to a good bit of eye-rolling on my part. That feeling that I had when I saw David Lee Roth perform at Stubbs WAY back in 2000…. with his GREY chest hair hanging out of a gold lame jumpsuit that he no longer had the body for…. that sort of "look away!"… feeling? Yep, that's the same feeling that I had when I pulled the crockpot from behind the old Wilton birthday train cake pans. 

That good old machine has gotten us through many a Super Bowl party and it is the sole reason (apart, of course, from my sweet, helpful mother and mother-in-law) that I survived the days when I had two in diapers. Let's face it though, I was not exactly serving up five star meals in those days. 

But, as I said, our schedules are getting more and more full and I'm trying to retain some peace in the midst of the storm. I'm trying to wedge a calm, fun family dinner into the 40 minutes between the end of fiddle lessons and the start of karate class without making myself (and everyone else) crazy or hitting the fast food window. So, out came the trusty old pot, and I determined to find a new and better way of slow cooking. 

Over the next couple of entries I'm going to share with you five big revelations that have made me fall in love, all over again with my crock pot. Then, I'll give you a biggo list of some of my favorite recipes. 

On with the show…

When I brought my cooker out of retirement, I turned first to Crockpot365. For those who don't know, this is the home of Stephanie, goddess of the slow cooker. She endeavored to use her crockpot every day for a year, and by gosh she did it! As you can imagine, she's got tons of recipes. And the fabulous part is, in my opinion, that she shares both her triumphs and her failures. Reading through the archives is like going to slow-cooking school. So take some time and really dig in. You won't regret it. 

I tried a few of her recipes and found them pretty great, but it was THIS  fish recipe (we used tilapia instead) that changed everything and lead to my first crock pot cooking revelation. Now the recipe in and of itself was good, but it wasn't so much what was cooked that made this a HUGE moment for me, it was HOW it was cooked. 

In foil packets! 

And the angels sang!

Revelation #1 – Foil Packets Are The Answer to the Pile o' Goo Blues

I don't know why,  but it had never occurred to me before that you could do anything but throw a bunch of stuff in the pot and let 'er rip. 

You can make fish, baked potatoes and green beans, all separate, but all together in the SAME pot!

I have made salsa chicken in a packet and then popped in some black beans and spices (in a small casserole dish), right on top of the packets of chicken. I'm a lucky gal who has a rice cooker too, so we came home to chicken, rice and beans. A few tortillas, some grated cheese, and chopped in advance veggies, and you've got soft taco night! 

All of a sudden the crockpot doesn't have to mean "warm bowl of mushy goo" it means real dinner, ready when we need it to be. 

Just about any veggies will work in packets. We've done sweet potatoes (cut up with butter and brown sugar), carrots, zuchinni, green beans, corn on the cob, broccoli, even onions stuffed with ranch seasoning.

 This leads me to … 

Revelation #2  - The Crock Pot Lid Can Open at ANY Time!!!

Just because food cooks in the same pot and comes out at the same time, does not mean it has to go IN at the same time. 

I don't know why I never thought of that before!

You can wrap up those potatoes in foil (whole and pricked with a fork) and let 'em cook all day. Then you can add in some packets of fish and maybe one of green beans, just a couple hours before dinner. Go to piano lessons, the post office and the bank and come home to real dinner, ready when you are!

You can even make up all the packets the night before and leave them in the fridge until you're ready to throw them in the pot. 

We might have a chicken roasting all day and then a couple of hours before go time, I add in a packet of cubed potatoes with butter and seasonings. When they're cooked, I give them a quick mash. We have roast chicken, mashed potatoes, a side salad and some crusty bread! 

Who knew? And if YOU knew, why didn't you TELL ME????

Enjoy the day folks, I'll be back soon with the rest of my miracle (to me) crock pot revelations soon!

Slow Cooker Night!

chantelle November 4, 2009 at 9:25 am

Wow – I have tried the “add things later”…but the foil concept is nothing short of amazing. Really – that whole thing opens up a culinary world of possiblities. Gives me hope on an otherwise glum world of stew 2 nights a week, so this is very exciting news.

Jennifer November 4, 2009 at 10:13 am

OMG, I’ve never thought of EITHER of those. Wow. Just.. thank you, wow.

Teri November 4, 2009 at 10:18 am

My life will never be the same!!!! One of the reasons I’ve always struggled with the crock pot is that we aren’t casserole eaters, so few things appeal to us. BUT, to cook a full meal in foil in it!!! Oh my.

Lise November 4, 2009 at 10:28 am

Love it! I just got a new (used) bigger crock pot, and am excited to learn a few tips. I’ve been trying some things from “Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are,” and so far, so good. I also use my crock pot to make apple butter, pear butter, etc, by cooking them in the open pot overnight. Works great!

lisa November 4, 2009 at 10:33 am

Thanks for some slow-cooker wisdom. I have made many meals in our crock-pot, but never thought to add things in later to it, or to make potatoes that way.

very helpful! 🙂

Valarie Budayr November 4, 2009 at 10:34 am

Wow these are incredible revelations. I was in the throw everything in the pot and leave it there group. I never thought of a slower cooker as a piece of individualized meal preparation. Thank you for these revelations. I’m going to go find my slow cooker right now.

Amber Carrillo November 4, 2009 at 10:43 am

I never thought of that either – wow! Time to dust off the crock pot!

Adrienne November 4, 2009 at 11:05 am

Oh my. I ~can~not~ wait to read more!

amanda November 4, 2009 at 11:12 am

wow, this post is making me two things….

1. Jealous. I want a crock pot. I have never wanted one before, now I really do. Like really.

2. Hungry. Oh my goodness. HUNGRY.

I am newly pregnant and prone to various extremes in my emotions, but dang. I really want to eat something from a slow cooker right now.

Lia November 4, 2009 at 11:23 am

Well, that is amazing. I never would have thought of that either. I can’t wait for the recipes!

And I just LOVE your illustrations with their semi-70s charm!

laurel Sauls November 4, 2009 at 11:37 am

Good heavens. I am stunned!

Cassandra November 4, 2009 at 12:15 pm

It all seems so simple! Why didn’t I think of that?! Thanks for the tips!

Brynn November 4, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Thank you so much for sharing your revelations. Baby three (third boy!) due any day now. I need these ideas! I will wait with bated breath for the next installment of crockpot revelations

Cara November 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

I think you just changed lives with this one post. 🙂

Kez November 4, 2009 at 12:57 pm

Nope, I never knew either! We’re not much of casserole eaters so the crockpot doesn’t get as much work here as it could. You’ve opened up a whole new world of possibilies!!

Christie November 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm

I’ll join with chorus in saying those revelations are brilliant.

Tania November 4, 2009 at 2:02 pm

OK, who was hiding all of these secrets! I never thought of them either. I cannot wait to pull out my crockpot and some foil to try out some new stuff. I will anxiously await the next installment of your crockpot diaries! So excited!

Carri Lambert November 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm

This totally blows my mind! I can’t wait to hear more!

Mad Woman November 4, 2009 at 4:59 pm

WOW. It had never even occurred to me to use foil packets! Seems like such a simple idea now you’ve told us all 🙂

jenn November 4, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Ok, WOW!! Who knew all of that??? I thought I was jazzy cuz I’ve been making steel cuts oats in my crockpot!(overnight!).

I am looking forward to more relevations.

Also, I love your illustrations so much! This posts’ reminds me of my childhood, kind of like the schoolhouse rock thing 🙂
(I’m old!)

Butzeballchen November 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm

What a great idea! It is crazy silly how much I was looking forward to this post because I KNEW you would have something good to share with us 🙂

I also like that cute little married couple that popped up in the “You might also like” section 😉

Julie November 4, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I am LOVING these revelations! Thank you for being so ocnsiderate to share these with the rest of us because I’m with you on the “if you DID know, why DIDN’T you tell ME!”

Harmony November 5, 2009 at 5:57 am

New to me too and I can’t wait to try it!!!!

toni November 5, 2009 at 6:02 am

holy cow!! these are goinig to be my favorite posts!

Stefani November 5, 2009 at 6:07 am

I hadn’t heard of that book, but it sounds like a good one to have! Thanks for the tip!

Stefani November 5, 2009 at 6:08 am

Well that’s better than I did! Whenever I was pregnant I always craved fast food… Quarter Pounders with Cheese and Wendy’s Frosties! Goodness!

Stefani November 5, 2009 at 6:09 am

Oooooooh! Congratulations Brynn!

Stefani November 5, 2009 at 6:10 am

I have to say, I’m so glad! I was a little worried that I was going to hear a lot of “duh! Where have you been? Everyone knows this stuff!”

Stefani November 5, 2009 at 6:11 am

Really? Oats overnight? Tell me more! I tried doing banana bread over night and it was a royal flop! the house smelled great, but it was like a rock on the outside and goo on the inside 🙁

Angela November 5, 2009 at 6:43 am

Never thought of the foil…You have possibly changed my family’s food experience in one simple post. Add this revelation to the fact that most inexpensive foods especially cuts of meat are much better slow cooked and you may have divert disasters of epic proportions.

Carmella November 5, 2009 at 9:23 am

Great post, Stephanie! Loved the “look away” description of the guy in the gold lame suit!! I could totally see him – ack! Can’t wait to read (and use!)your recipes for the slow-cooker!

Meredith November 5, 2009 at 10:56 am

Brilliant! I recently dug out my slow-cooker, too. I’ve made two dinners of the “stick in a hunk of meat and turn it on” variety. Needless to say my family was not impressed. I can’t wait to check out Crockpot365!
By the way, I love your blog! Do you do all the drawings yourself?!

Kate November 5, 2009 at 2:49 pm

how bad am I:: I bought my little brother a crock pot for his birthday, because I have never owned one but have always been curious…I figured he could be the guinea pig;)

Sarah November 5, 2009 at 8:42 pm

I had no idea about these things either! I thought I already loved my crock pot, but now I love it more. I cannot wait to try these things. Thank you SOOOO much!

Elissa November 6, 2009 at 5:23 am

you, my dear, may have just changed my life forever! as soon as i get a bigger crock pot 😉 waiting, quite happily, for the next slow cooker post!

Stefani November 6, 2009 at 7:16 am

Thank you so much, Lia! I love retro children’s illustrations so much… and I think it kinda shows 🙂

Stefani November 6, 2009 at 7:19 am

Thank you so much, Jenn! I can’t think of a better compliment than, “this reminds me of my childhood”… I’ve got smiles for miles over that!

Stefani November 6, 2009 at 7:23 am

Well thank you so much, Meredith! Yep…. I do the doodling!

French Knots November 8, 2009 at 1:51 am

Brilliant! Foil packets, what a revelation! I’ve got a whole chicken in my slow cooker at the moment, which I’ve never tried before but read about it on a blog yesterday , but I’m going to add a foil packet of diced potatoes and maybe some carrots too – Thanks for the idea!

Catherine November 8, 2009 at 4:41 pm

This is brilliant. My only question is how large is your crockpot? I bought one – the cheapest they had – as I’m not sure how my slow cooking revolution is going to turn out.

Melanie September 7, 2010 at 10:55 pm

Ok, I know your tips are practical (and I’m loving them!) but you are also making me crack up. Hilarious. Love your writing style…love the tips…now I’m going to start loving my slow cooker even more than I already do, thanks to you!

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