Of sports, schoolwork and slowcookers…

Another Sunday of football, grading & planning. My husband’s in his usual Sunday spot with his Fantasy tracker running and the family pick sheets spread out in front of him (my son at college has figured out the easiest way to do his weekly picks–print them out, circle the teams he predicts to win, then take a pic with his phone and forward the pick pic to us). I’m doing school work, but that’s okay. I like it and it helps me wrap my mind around our work in class for the week in a way that helps me feel so much more solid and happy about Mondays.

Mediterranean ChickenWith the Sunday sports and school work preoccupation, I’m so happy that the slow cooker has transformed my Sundays into stress-free days (at least for now). By far the best recipe I’ve made is Cooking Light’s Spicy Chicken Cacciatore, but today I’m trying another sturdy chicken-thigh recipe that I found on Cooking Light:  Mediterranean Chicken. What’s most exciting is that there are some “crazy” ingredients that I happen to stock–kalamata olives & capers. Some things I’m figuring out about slow cooker recipes:

  • Too slow is too long…those “cook for 8-9 hours on low” recipes were terrible….every dish shared a similar flavor signifying that someone really didn’t want to cook dinner after a long day at work. And a similar texture:  chicken reduced to a sort-of gritty feel, even if it IS falling off the bone. Sometimes “falling off the bone” simply means it’s been cooked too long. If you climbed on the slow-cooker wagon in the 90s, you know the taste.
  • The sturdier the meat, the better the recipe. Chicken thighs work great, especially lightly floured and browned in a skillet before adding to the bowl. Beef works well, too.
  • Any recipe that requires adding ingredients incrementally throughout cooking is a pain and not worth it. It should be a “one pot wonder,” not a traditional recipe requiring frequent attention that’s been modified for the slow cooker. I don’t want to give frequent attention–that’s why I’m using the slow cooker.
  • Soups and stews are a go-to for slow cookers, but not really my thing. I like a bowl of soup on a stormy day, once. I do not like the same pot of soup redone as left over for three days in a row. Great for crowds. Not great for a family of 5 (in which one rarely will eat what’s being served), or especially a couple with no kids in the house.

Today while my dinner’s cooking, I’m heading into the classroom to wrap-up some assessments. Notebooks are too heavy to lug home. Thank you to everyone who’s trying to revolutionize and improve slow cooker recipes….moving them into the 21st century.

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