All hail the crockpot!
James and I have had the pleasure of having my good friends Jo, Irl, Ditas, and their twins Jodie and Ronnie for a night of good chili, yummy pasta, and some good-old beat-em-up games on the PS2 last weekend. It was fun watching the boys go at their combos and super-moves and us cheering them on to "Go get 'em, go get 'em, that's him! You can do it! Beat that Boss up! YEAAAAAH!"
Beat-em-up games. Always makes for awesome stress relief. (We presently recommend Warriors Orochi 2 for the witty, funny dialog and fantastic character design, and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam for the Mecha fans out there. Both make for great, straight-forward gameplay, and are pretty easy to understand once you've got the controller in your hands. they can get very challenging and addicting -- one scenario might not be enough!) Of course, bashing virtual bad guys coupled with good food and great company makes for a winning weekend in my book.
The chili, as with most of my lunch and dinner dishes now, was made by crockpot. It's a simple affair of half a kilo of ground pork and half a kilo of ground round, set to brown over a high setting for about an hour and a half or so. I next put in a large packet of tomato sauce and a small can of tomato paste, let it simmer for a bit, then added about three medium-sized cubed potatoes, and two large peeled, cubed carrots, and set the crockpot to Low. I let the veggies cook while I puttered about cooking the rice. After about half an hour, the chili was ready, and we all ate rather heartily that night. (And voila! A covert recipe in this post!)
I'm glad I took Irl & Ditas' advice to get a crockpot. With a crockpot, you can pretty much put in all the ingredients your dish needs, set it to cook on Low for a number of hours (say, 6 to 12? Long enough for you?) go to work, sleep, or do your thing, and come back with your dish ready to serve. What's more, your meats will stay moist and juicy, since the moisture just circulates within the ceramic interior and glass cover of the appliance. Oh, and sauce-y dishes are best prepared with crockpots.
I'd say this is a big help for me, specially with weekends. This now means I can start cooking Lunch early in the morning when I come home from work while I bustle about and clean around the house.
Breakfast is not a problem for me, really. I can whip up rice-omelette-hotdogs-tocino in an hour and a half, bam, done.
It's Lunch, however, that can get freaky.
Picture this: you and your boyfriend get some shut-eye late-morning Saturday after a long evening work shift. You both wake up mid-afternoon, both groggy and hungry. Very hungry. It doesn't help either that your boyfriend's tummy is hyper-acidic, and must be filled before the acid gets the better of him. You yourself have just woken up, and you barely remember what the contents of your pantry and fridge are.
Time's tick-tocking. Your boyfriend's on the brink of a hunger crisis, your brain is post-sleep slush, and you have no food ready.
Did I mention the crockpot's our saving grace? ^_^"
Another plus I've encountered with crockpot-cooking is a return to packed lunches. With the recipes I've been experimenting with, I find they yield more than James and I need for a day. Even two days! The sauce is also a major bonus, I think. So, why not pack a lunch for myself to bring to work? It's a great way to save money. I've also noticed that I've begun to eat rather well ever since I started bringing packed lunches to work. Most definitely beats fast food very often. :)
I'm really excited to keep trying more recipes with this baby. I've next set my sights on this Mac-n-cheese recipe, and maybe, just maybe, make an attempt with home-made yoghurt. Think of it: lassi to go with curries like Rogan Josh, right in the comfort of your own kitchen.
What about you? Do you also cook with a crockpot? What are your favorite recipes?