By Sandra Beck
It’s ironic. Cooking is meant to be the ultimate domestic goddess occupation. Why is it that the aftermath makes my kitchen look like a hovel?
I’d lovingly plan, chop, sauté, and present the food attractively. The kids would push it around their plate. “It’s a bit spicy for me” my som would comment “and today I don’t like peppers. Can I have just bread instead?”. My effort would have earned me the sound of ‘scrape scrape scrape’ into the bin, and a kitchen full of dirty pans and chopping boards at the point of the day when I just needed to lie down.
Then I found it. The cheapest, scruffiest part of my kitchen armory, costing less that a decent saucepan. I love it so much I’d kiss it, if it wasn’t generally full of scalding hot stew. It’s my little secret shortcut – the ‘wife’ I’d love to have. “Come by for dinner tonight” I can now boldly say. These days, I’m not inviting people to watch me sweat in the kitchen, keeping toddlers away from the hot oven by pushing them back with my feet. It’s the working mother’s best friend – the slow cooker!
I’ve learned to plan my meals in advance. It saves money and it helps me eat healthier. Most of all it means I can cook on auto-pilot without using any of my scarce spare brain capacity. When I’m up in the morning, I know what’s meant to be for dinner. I can start the ‘Slocker’ (as we affectionately call it) straight away. I’ll put some chopped onions and celery in there with a teaspoon of oil, and leave it on ‘High’ for forty minutes while I go upstairs to dress the kids. I’ll come back, chuck in some tins of tomatoes, tins of beans and a few flavorings. I turn the dial down to Low, and leave it for the whole day. I arrive back home ten hours later to the homely smell of fresh three bean chilli. Pure comfort food.
It does take a bit of trial-and-error, it’s true. I wish my model had a timer, because sometimes the food can taste a bit ‘stewed’. In particular, meat needs to be sealed in a frying pan first. However, I’ve discovered something about my kids’ tastes. They just LOVE bland and mushy.