I'm having a love affair with my crock pot this fall. Now, to be fair, I've always loved my crock pot, but I'm finally putting the little guy to good use!
Last night, I had some girlfriends over for dinner, and like a little cluck of hens, we ate and talked and drank wine. It was glorious.
The original plan was to put spaghetti sauce on to simmer all day. Forgetting that, I made spaghetti last week, so spaghetti sauce turned into chili in a hurry. Really, it's just a matter of switching the spices, as all the rest of the ingredients are the same.
So, chili simmering in the pot, a Tempranillo on the table, and my girlfriends arrive with cinnamon rolls.
Don't roll your eyes. It's weird, but it's good! I'd never heard of this odd-ball combination either until I attended the University of Nebraska, and then all the natives insisted that it was the only way to eat chili. I'm not convinced of its superiority to things like a baked potato topped with chili, or just chili with cheese, onions and oyster crackers, but it is good. It's not just the contrast of sweet with savory, which my brother strangely detests. A pinch of cinnamon in a pot of chili just does something amazing to the spices. Alton Brown could probably explain the chemistry behind it, but it makes the chili and cumin seem richer by comparison. Like adding a little chili powder to hot chocolate...
Anyway, it's been a week full of soup-y goodness. My husband made beer-cheese soup on Monday, and we both want to tweak the recipe a little, though not at all in the same way, so we'll wind up with two different versions of the soup before all is said and done.
And we recently acquired 10 lbs of fresh cow, so there's a rump roast just waiting for a date with the crock pot next week. I've got a tortilla-type soup recipe that's sort of like Truvy's "a cup, a cup, a cup" recipe, only it's a can, a can, a can--black beans, corn, and tomatoes w/ green chilies. Of course, then you pick a rotisserie chicken clean, cover it with broth & ignore it for a few hours. Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream if you wish... mmmm... I'm making myself hungry (which is remarkable as I haven't been able to smell anything for 3 days, so nothing really sounds good. Worst part about a cold really--it robs food of all it's fabulosity...).
I think my favorite thing about the crock pot isn't the convenience or the simplicity. No, it's the smell. You walk in to the house and everything smells good. It reminds me of being young and coming home to find Mom cooking. The smell is the invitation and anticipation. It means you've made real food from real ingredients. It's what makes a house a home... the smell of a good meal.
So show your crock pot some love soon. You'll thank me later.