Back in my college days, when I was married (to my first husband), we had a big wedding, and a series of wonderful wedding showers. It seems like the most popular gift items that popped up were numerous casserole dishes and…crockpots. I don’t remember just how many crockpots we were given to us, but I do remember the number of items we chose to take to the Returns counter at Wal-Mart was sizeable. I couldn’t conceive of using more than one CrockPot, or multiples of any other plug-in kitchen appliance, at that point.
I also could not conceive of actually using sherbet glasses, and a six-piece set of them was there in our cart amidst the duplicate crockpots, as we stood in the very slow line at the Returns counter, waiting our turn. I felt sort of bad about the sherbet glasses…they had been given to us by one of my best guy friends, who had gone to some trouble to pick them out, and I remembered the look on his face when we opened the gift…like we had just been given a rare treasure.
He’s the sort of best friend you could go to the symphony with, go hiking with and knew all the types of trees by their leaves and bark, who knew all the composers and numbers of movements, who could speak and write in several different languages, who knew the names of wines and the capitols of all the countries of the world. Who liked fine art, too. And obviously iced desserts. Who knew how to pronounce Sherbet without an R, unlike my childhood when we thought it was Sherbert, wherein our Great Uncle Herbert forever got the nickname Uncle Sherbert.
But I digress…
It was at the point of ruminating about my friend, his selection of these tasteful sherbet glasses, and how to never EVER divulge to him that I was trading them in for something more useful, that I happened to mention to my husband how awful it would be if we ran into anyone who had actually given us any of these Return items. Especially Sherbet Glass Friend. We were hoping to essentially trade some things we knew we did not need for a couple sets of nice sheets and other items we could get with store credit. We both chuckled at how awkward it would be if such a scenario unfolded, especially if You-Know-Who happened to see us standing in this line just now. Wal-Mart, after all, was one of his favorite haunts.
No sooner had those words left my mouth, than I heard my name being called…only feet behind me…from the store entrance.
Oh Yes. It WAS. It was Sherbet Glass Guy. And his fiancee.
In the seconds it took me to grasp the situation, I tried to position myself to bar our return items from easy view. Of course, the sherbet glass set was right on top. I tried a friendly innocuous “heya!” greeting, but Sherbet Glass Guy, being the close friend that he was, and pathologically curious about all things Newlywed, came over to peer into our basket.
Yep. I remember it to this day. Every time I walk into a Wal-Mart, which thankfully is not that much any more.
“My sherbet glasses!!” (said with a completely abject look of betrayal)
And my hopelessly lame attempt to explain, something along the lines of ”They are so nice, but I’m not so sure we’ll really use them, so we…”
Interrupted by a withering “WELL. I can tell you you don’t need to try exchanging them HERE. I did NOT get them at Wal-Mart!”
Very awkward moment. Totally busted in the Customer Service line. Yep. And he wasn’t making it any easier. He was acting like the sherbet glasses were crystal and had our names engraved on them. For a moment I panicked, wondering if Martha Washington had once used them, if they were some Sotheby’s vintage find, if the Vanderbilts had once had an entire service of just this type of sherbet glass.
But I did feel about two inches tall, and knowing me well enough, he knew that and was slightly enjoying it.
(And has rubbed it in by reminding me of it ever since. At which point I remind him of the time he left his goldfish bowl on top of his dorm radiator and forgot that they were turning the radiators on that day…but we won’t go there)
He drew himself up with wounded dignity, obviously upset and not a little insulted, and with his fiancee in tow angled toward another part of the store, and my husband and I breathed a huge sigh of…something. We could not believe the irony.
And that’s how we continued to feel as we unexpectedly happened upon Sherbet Glass Friend and his fiancee multiple times ALL THROUGHOUT the store for the next hour. There was just no hiding.
Thankfully, we returned all those Crockpots unscathed.
I’ve not yet had the need for those sherbet glasses in the past twenty-something years, but I have wished for some of those Crockpots back.
No, I don’t do paid endorsements, blah blah blah. Slow crockery cookers by any name are something I’ve found a new appreciation for as we are trying to simplify.
They’re cheaper than using our oven.
Easy to clean.
They don’t need a lot of counter space.
And they make some great slow-cook foods, such as beans, chili, dips, soups, etc.
The actual crocks themselves can be used for recipes calling for ceramic or glass crocks, such as sauerkraut or other fermented things.
And so on and so on…I hardly need to list the obvious. Crockpots are sort of an American standby, but mine had fallen out of use for many years.
Now that we’re doing more Slow Foods, I’ve discovered it’s actually time-consuming…it’s definately slow! But slow can be good, if it’s mix and forget, and that’s where the ol’ crockpot has been dusted off and put back into service.
My favorites are the slow-cooked beans, roasting chicken, soups, cooking mixed veggies for fillings (think pot pie, etc), and sauces. They perk along till they’re needed, and the leftover quantity can be frozen, etc, for other meals. Paired with a quick-cook items such as rice, noodles, steamed veggies, etc, you can quickly assemble a delicious slow-cooked meal…fast.
So slow-cooking has become our “fast food.”
My former cooking days used to incorporate processed foods a lot more…like Velveeta, cream-of-whatever soups, packets of dry onion soup mix. It’s not so hard adapting to real foods instead of those with a lot of preservatives and chemicals when slow cooking, though. It’s just a matter of adjusting in small ways and making it more familiar over time.
I’ve linked below to a recipe we tried recently that we enjoy, and that we’ll keep tweaking till it’s fully “ours.” It’s from a great website I found recently called A Year of Crockpotting, and wish I had found sooner, from a blogger who cooked for one full year using only her crockpot. There are so many resources online for ideas!
Using our slow cooker has saved us a good deal of electricity that otherwise we’d be using heating an entire oven. If for no other reason than that one alone, it was worth trying my hand again at utilizing this little kitchen tool…seeing as how I probably won’t have a wood stove to set a cast iron dutch oven on to simmer some fabulous country cooking on any time soon
Here’s the link to the recipe we tried recently, Indian Butter Chicken (Chicken Mahkani)…we like Indian food a lot! I substituted a pinch of cardamom for the pods, upped the quantity just a tad for most of the spices, and added a pinch of cumin and liberally garnished each serving with fresh chopped cilantro. The recipe doesn’t call for salt, so be sure to add it to taste at the end…makes a difference. We enjoyed ours with hot basmati rice…yum!
Of course you’ll want to finish things off with some sherbet.
In some very special sherbet glasses. That of COURSE you can never exchange at Wal-Mart (without years of guilt, at least)
But nevermind…back to the cookin’ talk….
What’s your standby slow-cooker meal? I’d like to further expand our crockpot recipe repertoire!