It’s a big joke in my family – Cam can’t cook. It began when I was a young teenager and melted my mom’s kitchen. Literally. Melted the oven and range, melted the ceiling panels, and set the curtains on fire. (Ever hear the bit about oil and water? True story.) Mom never got over it. Had to buy a new stove and hated it. Every time she used it she muttered under her breath at me.
The “Cam can’t cook” theme has not ended, twenty-odd years later. Eldest Son loves to tell the story of how I burned the Spanish rice I was making for the Cinco de Mayo party when he was in third grade. Middle Son loves to explain about the day I burned water. (No, really. I set the water on the stove to boil hard-boiled eggs, forgot about it, and burned off all the water and scalded the pan.) I have a penchant for burning the breakfast. Especially when it’s corned beef hash (Eldest Son’s favorite breakfast food).
At least once a week the boys look at what I’ve fixed for dinner, drop their heads in unison and mumble, “I’m not really hungry.” I have become a little bit defensive about this. I try. I make the effort.
I fail a lot.
I’ve decided to stop reading novels while I’m cooking. Something tells me this will help.
But things are changing! I have found two things that have given me a new lease on my culinary life:
One is a website (www.allrecipes.com) that gives me more recipes than I could possibly ever read (lots with pictures!), complete with instructions and shopping lists. The more I take advantage of this terrific service, the happier my children are becoming.
The other is the slow cooker.
A few weeks ago I made Louisiana red beans and rice in the Crock Pot. The boys LOVED it, and we now have a new family staple.
I have made cheesy chicken, baby back ribs, baked chicken, awesome chili, and a pot roast that is becoming famous. I use this miracle at least once a week, usually twice. At the end of the day the house smells heavenly, and I have yet to burn anything in the slow cooker. (I’m sure it can be done, and I’m probably the one to do it, but I haven’t done it yet.)
Another upside to the slow cooker is that generally the recipes feed many more than the four or five of us who are here to eat them. Louisiana red beans and rice, for example, generally yields enough for ten or fifteen people. Frozen leftovers! Lunches for a week! Yippee!
Crock Pot, you gorgeous thing, where have you been all my life?