Sunday, August 4, 2013

Slow Cooking with Grace

I have never owned a slow cooker (a.k.a. crock pot). Why? I'm not really sure, but it may have had something to do with the fact that I seriously love puttering in the kitchen, playing with seasonings, and generally babysitting whatever is on the stove.

But then some of my Facebook friends starting posting recipes intended for slow cookers. The dishes looked fabulous, and I knew I could probably adapt them to the stove top. But then another thing happened: the heat of July and August in Corozal.

I'm not going to sugarcoat the facts -- it can get beastly hot and humid. You will sweat from places you didn't even know you could. The prospect of having something simmering on the stove or baking in the oven for hours wasn't looking too appealing.

So I caved in and bought a slow cooker for my very own. 

Isn't she pretty?

I picked it up at our local Court's store and was told we had three days to test it out. If anything seemed wrong during that time, we could bring it back for a full refund or replacement.

Adopting the mindset of "go big or go home", I decided my first dish would be this short rib recipe, courtesy of Papi Thomas. If the cooker didn't melt down in the 7-9 hour cooking time, I figured I was golden.

Once the prep work was done -- browning the meat and veggies, reducing the wine sauce -- everything was in the cooker and that was that. It was rather nice as the day went by knowing that dinner was pretty much done. Plus the big bonus was that the kitchen wasn't a sauna. 

And the end result? 

Amazingly good. Quite frankly, this was the most tender beef we've had since moving here. And the sauce? Oh my goodness. It had just the right amount of richness from the wine and balanced perfectly with the beef.

The bottom line was that I was hooked on this new toy. So much so that I decided to make another slow cooker meal the next night. This one was for balsamic chicken

After getting all the ingredients in the pot, I was free to go play in the pool.

A few hours went by, and I got started prepping the potatoes we would have with the chicken, while David worked on the green beans. Everything was on the stove, ready to be cooked when the "Grace" part of the evening commenced.

The five-gallon water jug was empty so, trying to be helpful, I decided to bring in a full jug from the spare room where we store them. Just as I came into the kitchen, hauling the full jug, I tripped over my flip-flop. And just so we're clear, my flip-flop was not strewn on the floor, but on my foot.

Now anyone who knows me well will not be surprised by this. I have been a klutz forever. I have been known to trip on a perfectly smooth floor. This is the same woman who, dressed to the nines for dinner at a top-of-the-line restaurant on Grand Cayman that had outside dining on a deck, caught her heel on said deck and literally brought conversation to a standstill after hearing a collective gasp from the crowd. Tripping over a flip-flop is just par for the course for me. However, I usually am not toting a five-gallon jug of water.

Needless to say, I went sailing -- with the jug -- right into the corner of our island. I'm sure it was a move to make ballerinas around the world jealous. That's just how graceful I am. 

David was immediately at my side trying to assess just what I managed to do to myself this time. After the chirping birds and stars disappeared from my view, I got up. There was a cut on my hand, which he took care of, and I felt a bit bruised. Discretion being the better part of valor, I decided maybe it would be better for David to finish making the meal. Actually, I don't think he would have let me near the stove if I wanted to.

Turns out that I ended up not feeling that hungry and decided instead to treat myself to an ice pack and moist heating pad. As a result, I didn't take a picture of the final plating and didn't think to ask David to do it. But he said the chicken was great and would definitely want to have the dish again. 

The next day, I happened to glance at the cabinet door I had the encounter with. It looked a bit off center. When David investigated, it turns out that I ended up bending one of the hinges and popped out a screw. But you will be happy to know that the water jug sustained no discernible injuries.

Hey, as I mentioned before -- go big or go home.

P.S. Before our Moms even ask: Other than a couple of cuts and a variety of bruises, I am fine. You both have seen me pull similar graceful moves like this in the past, so this one should be no surprise.

P.P.S. Anyone have some great slow cooker recipes to share? If so, post them in the comments section below or shoot me an email


  1. Thick sliced onions on the bottom of the crockpot. Add NO WATER, BROTH OR OTHER LIQUID
    Season the chicken to taste (I like using Lemon Pepper. Cook on low 8-10 hours. When it is done there will be all the juices you need to make a gravy.

    1. Sounds great! Can't wait to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Slow cookers make amazing smothered pork chops. The meat falls right off the bone, and it makes its own gravy. I use the recipe from titled "slow cook down home pork chops and gravy"
    Liz and craig
    Same site has a good slow-cooked korean beef recipe