13 December 2007

Queen of Crock…

Winter is here and there’s a definite chill in the air. Gone are the days of eating al fresco by the BBQ. with a chilled wine in hand and the warmth of the sun on my back. It’s damn cold…and with that comes a yearning for something warm and sustaining.

To be perfectly honest, when I received a crock-pot several Christmases ago from my mother, I wasn’t too sure what to make of it. I always equated slow-cookers to stews and basic hearty meat and potato type dishes…yummy, but hardly exciting for demanding taste buds. And so, in my ignorance, the crock-pot sat in its box in my basement for over a year. Every weekend my husband and I would look at one another and say, “we should really start using that crock-pot,” but we were both too lazy to drag it upstairs and sift through recipes.

Since joining weight watchers and subsequently changing my eating habits, I have taken a more active interest in cooking and meal planning. One day while visiting Chapters, I was browsing through the healthy living section and I saw a book on crock-pots staring me in the face. Feeling bold, I picked up the book and proceeded to drool as I flipped though countless pictures of exotic, spicy, and flavour-laden food. BINGO! This definitely wasn’t the old standard Irish stew (I can just hear my ancestors grumbling). With a renewed sense of interest in my old Christmas gift, I purchased the book and started my journey towards crock-pot addiction.

In our home, Sunday is now affectionately known as “Crock-Pot Sunday” (CPS). Every weekend, I will try a new recipe that I have found. From the traditional to the exotic, you can pretty much cook it all in a crock-pot: Cuban pork and sweet-potato stew, spicy chicken paella, sweet and sour curry, Moroccan lamb…all extremely healthy and diet friendly too! Sure I could probably make these things in the oven or on stovetop, but the crock-pot is actually much easier and the food just melts in your mouth. The other bonus is that I can leave my meals cooking away while I’m out running errands; just set the timer on the pot and let it do the rest. Some slow-cookers even have a ‘hold warm’ function that will activate automatically after the food has cooked - this has proved invaluable while entertaining as I can sit with guests and enjoy some appetizers without worrying about overcooking the main dish.

So there you have it, I am now officially hooked on the slow-cooking method. To the crock-pot adverse, I highly encourage giving it a second chance. Buy one now, and I guarantee it will become a regular fixture in your kitchen during the cooler months…and that’s no crock!

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