What a crock of…..

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Summertime can be so busy.
Here at the shop we have been putting in long hours but getting off work at 8 pm isn’t bad when the sun is still shining.
The guys and I get pretty caught up in what is happening at the store so it’s not always easy to prepare a meal after work. We have been wanting to take advantage of our crockpot recently. I have heard myths retold of crockpot meals. I have only ever used them for keeping bean dip warm at parties or the occasional ( and might I add usually sensational) roast beef and veggies. That is where the adventure into hands off counter top slow cooking usually ends for me. I know people make claims as to the amazing results they get with their crockpots, so I started poking around on the internet looking for some fail safe recipes.
Last night it became my obsession. Home alone I scrunched up in Johns favorite chair, bowl of above mentioned roast beef in hand and surfed the web for some ideas. Pinterest is full of lots of pretty pictures. Perfectly positioned and proportioned plates complete with garnish and background music. Chicken thighs staring out at you from the grocery meat cooler, not the most appetizing. With the right lighting and an out of focus but obviously well decorated background,,, Voila!!! Internet food porn. Bon Appetit!! If only real life were that easy. Seriously, let’s be honest with each other. Nothing that pretty ever crawls out of a crockpot at my house.
My surfing for answers and inspiration continues, countless pictures of scrumptiousness have given me a bit of a complex. Feelings of food inadequacy are inevitable. You look around long enough across the internet and through stacks of cook books,, where does it get you? Slightly depressed and hungry. Real cooks make it look so easy. Ina Garten god bless her, can juggle sticks of butter, sauté chicken, bake homemade croutons, stir cocktails and finish a strawberry tart simultaneously. I would even bet she could do it while riding a unicycle through a French farmers market. I once screwed up microwave Mac n Cheese. Ok. More than once. There are so many steps. I bet Ina doesn’t even really own a crockpot. I bet she has to borrow one every time she wants to make Italian Beef.
In my efforts to uncover the secret underworld of crockpot cuisine I have also found a few instances of actual human beings attempting to share their hard won success with the world. 20140626-170458-61498613.jpg

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At first glance and to the untrained eye these photos may look like failures. But to those of us fully in tune with reality, we know, this sort of thing happens. Just picture these dishes served on antique ironstone platters saddled up to some fresh out of the oven biscuits and garnished with sprigs of fresh herbs. They could totally be saved. Some mood lighting and a quirky name like ” Abe’s famous cowboy stew” or ” rib stickin finger lickin southern beef and veggies” Well that sort of thing would go viral. Every hard working family in the country would make either of those a go to meal. It’s all about the garnish my friends.
With any luck my efforts will produce an endless supply of easy recipes. I will dance around my always clean kitchen with a Gin Gimlet in hand and pretend I’ve slaved all day over the stove. The guys will say things like, how do you do it all and still look so young…or Martha Stewart has nothin on you baby.
Being slightly apprehensive about testing some of the recipes I have stumbled on online is probably a good thing? It’s sort of like the idea of internet dating. Looks good in the pictures but doesn’t live up to expectations. I don’t fully trust someone who blogs about how good a dish turned out but doesn’t provide real proof. Let’s hear from your kids lady. Did they eat it or slip it to the dog under the table when your back was turned. I want the truth. Everyone has a phone with a camera these days. Mysteriously yours went AWOL when it was time to document your “easiest chicken dish ever!” Or the guy named Tweeker touting his fine tuning of Ben’s no worry one step perfect crockpot pork chops. Where is Ben? Why can’t we talk to him, and how did you go about fixing his recipe if it was already perfect? Can you make something more perfect? Not to mention one step? Really? Just one. Because in my life one step means you open a box or call for delivery. One step does not involve the full list of chopping dicing, marinating and pre-browning in a skillet that your reincarnation of Ben’s recipe requires.
I’ve decided to reach out and ask for help. A sort of busy life,, need some easy meals intervention. If anyone has a tried and true crockpot recipe that they have tried and love. Then let’s have it! I want to try it. I’m counting on you. Don’t be shy. There are men going hungry in my house. They need your help.

Have a recipe or a link to one that you enjoy and want to share it with us?
Feel free to post it in the comments section!

The images of crockpot disasters in this blog were found on pintrest, if anyone wishes to take responsibility for them, please let us know.

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