Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Rock Out Wit' Cha Crock Out

Some (or rather, none) of you have asked how my culinary skills have progressed recently. It's now been approximately 19 months since I've been on eternity leave and in that time, you'd think I would have mastered something other than how to defend against a toddler's headbutt or conquer a Mount Everest-sized pile of clothes in need of laundering. You'd think I'd be a natural in the kitchen.

And you'd be dead wrong.

I STILL cook unidentifiable objects and pass them off as chicken breasts.

I STILL substitute when I don't have the correct ingredients at my disposable. "Can I use Swiss Miss cocoa mix when a recipe calls for cocoa?"

I STILL use my husband's simple phrase, "It's not . . . terrible," as my barometer of a meal well cooked.

But, recently all that has changed.

I had the brilliant idea that a crock pot would change my life. The commercials on TV said so. And I totally bought in. I decided to purchase one for the annual Biscardi Christmas polyanna. I figured since I thought it was a great gift, someone else would too.

Only once the polyanna began, I had second thoughts. As I watched one of my brothers-in-law open a box revealing a large plastic "PIMP" cup, I realized I needed to take matters into my own hands. The chance of me randomly picking a gift better than that shiny new crock pot was slim to none. So, I opened my own gift and feigned excitement.

"Hey, I just saw you wrapping that gift 10 minutes ago!" one of my brothers-in-law outed me. I didn't care.

The Biscardis, they know how to cook. They didn't need this bulky appliance cluttering up their kitchens. I was confident that if Obama himself came knocking on their doors, they could wip up a meal fit for a president in seconds. I, on the other hand, could possibly host Bo Obama, the family dog.

Needless to say, I was the grinch who stole my own Christmas polyanna.

Now it was time to get crockin'.

Here is the thing about a crock pot. You just SHOVE anything and everything into the pot and let it cook. Oh, wait a minute! That's what I've been doing for years! This was the perfect appliance for me.

The beauty of the crock is that your meal comes out perfect no matter what you do! (assuming you've put in ingredients that mix well together and/or followed a recipe).

Clearly, I need a recipe and the internet is chock full of crock pot recipes. I am fairly skilled at penning a shopping list, driving to the market, and racing through the store and check-out 20 seconds before a toddler meltdown.

My trouble with the crock pot is that I still need to handle raw poultry and meat. In years past, I donned surgical latex gloves when picking up raw brisket or ground beef. My crock pot has somehow given me the confidence to go bare-handed, but it still makes me want to barf.

Yesterday, as I was cutting chicken, I realized that I say, "Ew, yesh, ew," throughout the entire process. And, it's a real process because I like to cut off anything that looks remotely suspicious on the bird. So, if a recipe calls for 2 lbs of chicken, I need to buy about 4 lbs because the rest of it I want to chop off, shove down my garbage disposal and never think of again.

Once the chicken was cut yesterday, I was golden. I added chopped onion, chopped celery, cream of chicken soup, gravy, seasoning and I was ready to crock and roll. I put my crock pot on "low" and let it cook for 5 hours. After that, I added some carrots, baked some biscuits, and I had a Betty Crockeresque meal ready for my husband and son.

It was perfection.

Nobody was poisoned.
Nobody was making a bowl of cereal as a "2nd dinner."
Nobody was saying, "It's not . . . terrible."

It was delicious.

And, I'm declaring it right now, on this 9th day of February, in the year 2011: I can officially cook.

Thank you, glorious crock pot.