Sunday, March 04, 2007

Slow Cookin'

This little 3-quart slower cooker used to be as a millstone around my neck. For the longest time, I couldn't remember who had given it to me, but now - really, as in right this moment - I recall that my parents were going shopping with/for me the day I moved into my freshman year dorm room at Cornell. We'd come all the way from Hong Kong, and they were going to leave that evening, and my mother decided that a slower cooker would save me from starving throughout my college career.

I appreciated the sentiment (okay, I admit that at the time, I didn't), but I never used it. This slower cooker proceeded to follow me from dorm room to dorm room, to my apartment off-campus senior year, into storage when I went to Japan, and came back and worked, and went to Virginia, and then came up here to Albany.

Well, I now have a lovely, cozy apartment, a decent-sized kitchen, and a single power outlet in that very kitchen that is completely blocked by the refrigerator. But I had just borrowed a very nice cookbook from the library, "Not Your Mother's Slower Cooker Recipes for Two" (not that my mother has ever used a slow cooker) by the Beth Hensperger (author of The Bread Bible), and was curious to try it out. Yes, it was time to bring this contraption out and put it to work.

So, in between all sorts of crazy cleaning and tidying (in preparation for my parents' visit this week), I went food shopping. Then, I read the user's manual. I had to plug in (in the pantry, where I normally have my rice cooker) and turn on the slow cooker, dry, for around 20 minutes to get rid of whatever finishing it is that they put on electrical appliances like these. The instructions didn't say anything about ventilating the room, but it's a must! The fumes were completely noxious; I have worries about my braincell count.

Then, after giving the inner ceramic pot a warm, soapy bath, I was set to go. I followed the recipe for Baby Beef Stew Classico. Browned some meat, added vegetables and broth and merlot (among other things) and, with a twist of a dial to turn it on, I left it to its own devices as I attacked the housework.

This is what I had around 6 hours later. The recipe said it would take 4.5 - 5 hours, but this is an older model of slow cooker. It doesn't even have a "keep warm" setting. Just off, low, and high.

It looks less watery and more chunky in real life. I'm not sure I'm terribly fond of the taste of red wine in my food, though. A little less wine next time, and a little more broth, perhaps? But my roommate said that it brought back memories of her childhood, so I think I got the slow, home cookin' flavour down pat.

Anyway, this stew isn't for me. It's for my parents and Moocow when they come up to visit in two days. Here's hoping the flavours will have matured by then!


greeeenwithenv said...

How come I don't remember ever seeing that crock pot at our Wyckoff place? Mmm, slow cooked foods are so comforting...

Lana said...

I think it the unopened box was covered in a big plastic bag at the time. Seriously, I never considered using it. Probably should have, huh? Uh I feel like I've deprived you and Puri-chan of slow-cooked foods. I'll make it up to you some time!