04 Oct

Now that Taylor’s moved back home, I have had to make some painful changes to my diet.

This includes more protein, fewer bottles of ketchup, and only one pickle per day.

When Taylor made this pronouncement in the grocery store, as I stood in the aisle clutching my precious jar of Zesty Dills, I could feel a lump in my throat.  One pickle per day?  ONE?  That’s like telling somebody they can only breathe once per minute, or that they could only brush their teeth once a week.  One pickle per day…that is positively unhealthy.  It’s like telling a child they are only allowed a single dream for the future.

Or something.

I feel strongly about pickles.

Taylor sighed and pointed to the nutrition facts, where ‘SODIUM’ was listed with ‘ONE QUADRILLION GRAMS’ and told me firmly that if we are going to work on having healthy diets, we need to work on cutting down our salt.

“Can you handle having one pickle per day?” he asked.

I nodded sulkily, and the Zesty Dills clanked into the cart along with chicken breasts, brown rice, and a crapton of broccoli.

That dreaded Pickle Pronouncement came on the heels of our most recent attempt to eat reasonably, be active, and be supermodel poet astronauts.  These are little dreams, my friends, but dreams worth having.  We’ve done pretty well so far, and I’ve even shared in some of the cooking duties.

See, Taylor is usually the chef.  He takes an adorable amount of pride in allowing me to get home from work and lay on the couch while he busies and bustles in the kitchen, asking how my day went and whether I want a glass of water with dinner or a glass of milk.  He has even learned to time this business, so that occasionally I’ll walk through the door right as he is sliding a friendly little pile of stirfry onto one of our chipped blue plates.  It’s all very reverse-Martha-Stewart, and I enjoy it more than I probably should.  It’s nice to be able to hang up my hat, loosen my tie, and slap my sweetie on the ass and ask what’s cooking.

With Taylor’s new schedule, though, he’ll be spending more time grading papers and programming Skynet and less time frying potatoes, so for a few nights every week I will be donning The Almighty Apron and wielding The Spatula Of Destiny in an effort to create something that doesn’t smell like burning and taste like sand.

This is made a little more difficult with the whole ‘healthy eating’ business.  Normally when I’m asked to cook, I can just swing by Little Caesar’s, throw the pizza on the table, and yell, “Alakazam! Am I Mario Friggin’ Batali or what?”  Needless to say, that doesn’t particularly fly on our ‘one pickle per day’ plan.  Most of the recipes that I know involve tomatoes, soup, and some combination thereof, so I’m stretching my wings here and seeing what I can do.

Friday was my night, and I had a scheme.

You have to understand that in my family, we do not have recipes.  We have schemes, or maybe plots.  Possibly even cunning plans. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen my father crack a cookbook.  Instead, whenever he makes something new he shows up at home with several grocery bags and shrugs, “Oh, I’m just going to try something,” and then he retreats to the kitchen where he prepares whatever strange brew he had bubbling in his brain all morning.  If anyone asks him how he did what he did, he’ll kind of go “eeeeengh” and consider that an answer to your question.

I cook the same way, only nothing I make is delicious.

So Friday I was mega-excited to try something new.  I marinated some chicken breasts in my favorite greek dressing, chopped up some tomatoes and red onions to put on top, and then I cooked those suckers!  Taylor made some rosemary potatoes to go on the side.

The chicken smelled fantastic while it was cooking, and as soon as it came out of the oven and I was able to try my culinary creation?

It tasted like, uh, like chicken.

You guys, chicken doesn’t even taste that great.  All my marinating and chopping was for naught, but Taylor’s potatoes were fantastic, so that’s great.

I guess.

In an effort to help my newly blooming cooking skills, we bought a crockpot on Saturday.  It’s sitting in the living room right now, secure in its styrofoam, quietly taunting us.  “You don’t have any idea what to do with me, do you?” it keeps whispering.  I’ve tripped over it twice.

Are you guys fantastic crock potters?  Got any great recipes?

Update: You guys, there are already some great recipes in the comments!  Even if you don’t have one to add (and I hope you do!) take a stroll through there and see what’s cooking!


Posted by on October 4, 2010 in Uncategorized


13 responses to “crockery

  1. kateohkatie

    October 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Wow – I would love (just once!) to come home to a homecooked meal, ready to serve. Jeff *could* cook if he tried. He’s a very intelligent person – anybody who scores a 17_ on the LSAT can’t be *that* dumb – but for whatever reason he’s in the “I can’t cook” mindset and therefore he just…doesn’t.

    Oh but wait. You asked for crockpot recipes. OK here’s my favorite one – we call it ghetto homemade rotisserie chicken.

    OK so what you do is get a whole chicken. Then pull out the icky bits inside. Then rinse that fucker. OK then take an onion and quarter it and put it in the chicken hole. Then wad up four little balls of aluminum foil – about the size of a pool ball; maybe a bit smaller. And put that in the bottom of your crockpot. Then take your whole chicken, and rub him in stuff. Whatever you want. I like to do olive oil, a metric shitton of fresh pressed garlic, and maybe some thyme. Or basil. Seriously – whatever. Then put it in the crockpot, balanced on those four little balls of foil (this is to prevent him from burning to the bottom of the crockpot, or sitting in its own juices too much. Hey look at me I’m anthropomorphizing!) Oh and you can put some garlic in the cavity, too. Whole cloves! And carrots if you want! Anyway, then turn the crockpot on low and let it sit for like 6-7 hours, or until the chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender.

    THEN you have delicious roast chicken! To serve with rosemary potatoes, or corn on the cob, or sauteed zucchini. Or all of the above.

    And then you’ll have leftovers – and that’s where it gets good. Because:

    1)My dog will go to the moon and back in order to eat chicken skin. Chicken skin = heroin for dogs. I just give all that to her (we don’t need the cholesterol and ickiness anyway).
    2)Pulled chicken: put some chicken back in the crockpot, shredded. And then douse it in barbeque sauce. And cook it on low until it’s warmed through (it won’t hurt to cook it longer, as long as you’ve got enough in there that it’s not burning to the edges). Eat on buns. NOM.
    3)Chicken soup. Pretty self explanatory 🙂

    • Jessica

      October 4, 2010 at 7:35 pm

      That sounds FANTASTIC! I’m big on cooking whole chicken…we have a recipe for it that my dad used to cook, but this sounds easy AND like it would make me feel very fancy.

      Also, ‘chicken hole’ is my new favorite term.

  2. Stephanie

    October 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Take some pork shoulder/chicken breast and season it with your basic seasonings (salt, pepper, whatever else strikes your fancy). Crockpot it according to the amount you’re making, about a half our or so before it’s done, take two forks and pull the meat apart, then add barbeque sauce. Sweet baby Ray’s is pretty amazing. A half hour later, scoop it out and onto some onion rolls.


  3. PlantingOaks

    October 5, 2010 at 6:04 am

    My cooking is also all about ‘schemes’ I love that term. Really, are there people out there who actually measure how much milk goes in the mac and cheese? It’s a generous slosh. Don’t over think it. (this is probably why my husband is also a better cook. I maintain that the scheme method has a higher ceiling and by the time I’m 50 I will be julia child)

    Crock pot cooking is also pretty scheme-friendly.
    Start with some sort of fatty meat. So, like, a cheap beef roast, not a steak, or cheap pork butt. An amount that will fit in your crock pot

    -Chop it into fist sized chunks and brown them if you’re feeling fancy. Or just chuck it in there if you’re not. Chop off any terribly gratuitous hunks of fat from the outside.

    -Fill the bottom of the crock pot with root vegetables of your choice. Potatoes, Onions, carrots, turnips, that sort of thing. Cut them in quarters first.

    -You kind of want the proportions to be about half meat, half veggies, with enough space at the top of your pot that you have no worries about putting the lid on.

    -Add canned tomatoes if desired, or hot peppers if you want a mexican theme.

    -Other recomended things to add (probably not all at once): garlic cloves (give them a smash with the side of a knife, but don’t bother chopping), mushrooms, a cup of barley, a cup of cornmeal/grits, bay leaves, black pepper corns, any and all spices that smell ‘right’. (though spices tend to be more potent if you add them after the cooking)

    -Add enough liquid so most of the stuff in the pot is at least touching it, but not necessarily submerged. You can use plain water, broth (or water plus bullion) of the same or different type as your meat, beer, wine, or some combination thereof. We normally put darker beers with beef and lighter ones with lighter meats, but it would probably work the other way too.

    -Cook for 4-6 hours. Stew. Done.

    (If you want some sort of veggies in the stew, corn, peas, cabbage, broccoli… either cook them separately or add them in the last 45 minutes or so – unless you really like overcooked vegetables.

  4. Shannon

    October 5, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Here’s a recipe (if you can call something this easy a recipe) that my cousin told me after I moved out and had to start cooking for myself: put some chicken breasts (or any chicken parts I guess) in your crockpot, pour a jar of salsa over top, and cook on low ’til it’s done. I don’t know how long exactly, maybe 4-6 hours? The result is surprisingly delicious and a good foundation for a psuedo-Mexican meal.

  5. Kelly

    October 5, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    We are food twins!! My boyfriend does almost all the cooking and pours me glasses of wine while I sit my ass on the couch and yammer on about nothing. AND on Saturday I bought us a crock pot because I want to help a little more in the food department. And it’s still sitting in the box in the middle of the living room.

    Also – I think I will give my crock pot its inagural use using Shannon’s salsa idea. Sounds awesome (and Kelly-proof).

  6. SarahBarista

    October 5, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    we’ve done the Salsa+Chicken thing, but not in a crockpot. we just do it in a pan on the stove. it’s still delish. slap it on the plate next to some rice and/or beans and you got yourself an amazing(ly easy) “mexican” meal 🙂

  7. Amanda

    October 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    I love this website for crockpot recipes, and most of it is pretty healthy, too:

  8. sarah

    October 6, 2010 at 8:35 am

    it’s not necessarily the healthiest thing, but corned beef in the crockpot is awesome. it comes in a package at the store already brined and with a packet of seasoning. if you haven’t had corned beef, it is basically sort of like beef-pickle only better than that sounds. similar spices (and sodium content unfortunately) to pickles. i always trimmed it before i made it – you will probably cut a LOT of fat off of it if you trim it – which is good. but yeah – then you put it in the crockpot with potatoes and cabbage. and cook it. it’s nice because it’s SO flavorful that you can eat just a little meat and a lot of potato and cabbage and have lots of leftovers.

  9. Krista

    October 8, 2010 at 8:57 am

    Um, hi! I love my crockpot, but I don’t use it as often as I would love to. Anywho, I don’t know if you’re interested in eating vegan food, but since you’re on a health kick I thought I would share with you my resource of vegan crockpot dinner recipes.

  10. Alice

    October 11, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    I’ve been lurking for months, but now that you’ve asked for a recipe… well, food and clothes… they’re kinda my thing. Comments are hard, but a recipe? A recipe I can DO!

    I made this simple curry last night because I’ve been taking care of my little brother due to Mum’s trip to Ohio, and they were really low on groceries… I had a half a tin of tomatoes open from making spaghetti sauce previously which I wanted to use lest it go bad. I didn’t want anything bla, so I invented a spicy dish. Have no fear, my eleven year old sibling liked it, and so did I, so it seems like it’s something that conservative young’uns will appreciate, as long with we adventurous old people.
    Here’s my young brother’s endorsement:
    Me: Did you like the curry last night?
    Him: uh huh. *nods, while staring at his computer screen*
    Me: so it was good?
    Him: yep.
    Me: Is that all you have to say about that?
    Him: sure… *a moment passes and he pauses his game* yeah, Astoria, the curry was great. Really fantastic. Can I get back to my game now?
    lol I just thought I’d share that, I found it funny.


    One tin of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
    Tin tomatoes (one half of a large can, or one whole normal sized can)
    Depending on how much you like peas, between 3/4-1 cup of frozen peas
    One chopped onion
    Some oil (spray-on is what I used)
    1/4 teaspoon cardamom
    3/4 teaspoon coriander
    1/4 teaspoon marjoram
    a little less than 1 teaspoon Hot Madras Curry Powder (or just a little fenugreek, cumin, and turmeric, if you don’t have HMCP lol)
    between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon of chili powder
    less than 1/4 teaspoon of garlic (I just scooped some up on the tip of my knife)

    First, sauteé the onions in the oil over high heat. When the onions are a little browned, dump EVERYTHING (except peas. Because capitals can be arbitrary too) into the crockpot. Stir it, obviously, then let it sit on low heat in the crock pot for about for eons and eons (like, basically, anywhere from two hours to a whole workday).
    Add your peas and heat for another however long it takes for them to thaw/cook (I put the peas in when I got home from work, and then boiled water for potatoes… that was enough time). Then, get out your blender or food processor (love love love) and ladle about half of the mixture into the blending equipment. Add about 1/8 cup water. Purée until approximately smooth (this does not have to be the smoothest of smooth. Chunks are fabulous too.), and then dump (lovely word) the puréed goodness back into your pan along with the unpuréed stuff. Mix it all up and serve. I had it with boiled potatoes due to lack of much else, but I had been planning to serve it with brown rice. Really, anything you typically eat curry with would go great with this stuff, methinks.

    Good luck with your crock pot, and always remember to clean it out that same day, because if you don’t, it will punish you with hours of soaking and scrubbing.

    • Jessica

      October 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      Wow, that sounds GREAT! Thanks! I’m excited to try it out, although spice scares me just a bit.

      Alas, we used the crockpot yesterday and I haven’t washed it yet. Now I am loathe to do it. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting! I love to hear from lurkers.

  11. Kelly

    October 12, 2010 at 7:19 am

    FYI, yesterday I finally got over my crock pot fear and made pork chops and WOAH they were good. My boyfriend just about died from the deliciousness and usually he doesn’t really like the “richer” dishes that I do. He’s more a veggie stir fry sort of guy. Anyway, here is the recipe:

    We ate it with egg noodles.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: