Have I mentioned that I don’t cook?
You’ll notice that I say “don’t” cook, as opposed to “can’t” cook. It’s not that I can’t, it’s more that I’ve never learned how. If it comes out of a box and complete with instructions, I can do it.
However, when it comes to “real” food, there are just so many things I do not know. But, now that I live on my own, it is time to start learning. Since I moved in to my house, I cook occasionally. I grill a chicken breast and microwave a baked potato. I can make spaghetti. And, of course, my trusty boxed dinners. That’s what I eat. (Oh, yeah, and soup from a can).
Does my post about wanting dinner at my mom’s make some more sense now?
It’s sad, really, how little I know about cooking. I blame my mother. (Kidding)
When I try to make something, I usually always end up calling her. When I made tacos for my friends (and do you see why that was such a big deal?!?!) I had to call her and ask a couple questions. There is just soooo much I do not know.
Well, for Christmas, I got my first Crock Pot (and my 2nd, but I took one back!) and I love this idea. Throw some crap in a pot and…wham a few hours later your food is done.
Now that’s my kind of cooking. If everything could be made in a Crock Pot, I’d have kept them both.
Last week, I stumbled upon a recipe that really just tickled my fancy. Pueblo Green Chili Stew. It sounded so delicious to me. I was excited to get the ingredients and throw them in my slow cooker and…bam! Chile Stew.
Now, before I can begin, I have to admit, when reading the ingredients, I had to call my mom and ask her how to buy pork. No, I’m not kidding. Never bought pork in my life. I had no idea and the ingredient is listed as “boneless pork cubes” and I wondered if you can buy it already cubed or if you have to be looking for a loin or a chop or a whatever and cube it myself.
Just so much I don’t know.
Fine, so I get to the store and it all goes well and I got everything on my list. And after I dropped over dead from the shock of how much actual groceries (as opposed to boxed dinners) cost, I paid the hefty bill and went home.
I got everything prepped, according to the directions and put it all together in the crock pot.
I’ll fess up here: if you notice in the directions, it says “In a large Dutch oven or deep skillet with lid, lightly brown pork cubes in oil over medium-high heat. Add rest of ingredients to pot, cover and simmer for one hour. Serve hot.”
at the top of the recipe, it says this “Put the pot on to simmer and take a brisk walk around the block” which is how I came under the impression that this was a crock pot dish.
It is not.
But by the time I read that last paragraph, it was in my head that this gets cooked in the crock pot and it takes an hour. I know that sounds stupid, but with my limited knowledge, it made sense.
It is also worth mentioning that this was my first EVER time cooking with a crock pot.
Now, onto the good stuff.
I threw all the ingredients in the pot at 8:15pm on Monday night.
By 9:15pm Monday night I figured out that I’m an idiot. Clearly I was not eating this for dinner on Monday night. Everything was still raw and it was barely warm.
As mentioned, I’ve never cooked like this before and I had no idea how long something takes in a crock pot. Something cooking for an hour seems long to me. Two hours is an eternity. As my mom informed me, most things in a crock pot require about 8-10 hours of cooking. Nope, didn’t have that information up front.
Back to Monday night: after I checked it at 9:15, it was apparent that this was not going to be my dinner and I made something else–reheated leftovers.
Then I watched some tv. At 11:15 pm, I was getting ready for bed and I checked it again. Nowhere near being done. And this was the first time I had the thought…what now?
Is it okay to leave a crock pot on, cooking, overnight? I had no earthly idea. It was too late to call my mom (yes, I considered it…and I would have, if I had thought of it at 9:15) so I had to figure this out on my own. I eventually reasoned that of the three functions on my crock pot (Low, High, Warm) warm likely doesn’t cook, but only keeps the temperature steady. So I opted for that, rather than shutting it off and having to refrigerate the entire stew.
Then I went to bed.
I popped out of bed at 7 am the next morning and ran out to check, and everything was fine. I turned it up to High, to get it cooking, thinking I could at least take it to work for lunch that day.
I actually went back to bed for 30 min. and then got up and got ready. When I left work, I had my little container of stew for lunch and I was so proud of myself. Completely serious, I was proud of myself for cooking food and packing it up to take to work. I felt like a grown up.
Of course, leaving for work presented yet another dilemma. I knew it wasn’t fully cooked (I figured reheating in the microwave would finish it off….) so I opted to leave it on warm while I was gone. Nine hours is a long time to leave something cooking–unattended.
And off I went.
At work, I got to lunchtime and I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to eat my food that I had cooked. I heated it up in the microwave, carried it to my desk and sat down. I took the first bite and—-
not good at all
it was not even a little bit cooked. The potatoes were raw. Raw. Crunchy.
I had tested it at home, but I must have gotten a potato that was sitting on the bottom of the pot and was a lot further cooked that the majority.
I didn’t know what to do. It was the only thing I brought for lunch.
I ate it.
And, yes, it was bad. It made me wish I had never started this stupid project in the first place.
(And yes, this story is really this long….stick with it, the good stuff is comin’!)
Now, we’re at Tuesday. I got home from work and the phone went a little crazy. Calls to Kelly, my dad, and my mom.
When talking to my mom, I casually brought up this whole story and asked her a couple questions. Is it okay to leave it while cooking? (Yes.) How long does it usually take? (8-10 hours).
At this point, it was 6:30pm on Tuesday.
My stew, which was still not fully cooked, I turned up at 6:00 pm…had been cooking for 22.5 hours.
Oh, trust me, you didn’t read that wrong. My first ever crock pot dish had been cooking for 22.5 HOURS and was still. not. done.
This was a disaster.
But, I hope you’re laughing at this point. When my mom said 8-10 and I calculated and came up with (I’m going to type it out, it’s funnier that way) twenty two and a half hours, she and I exploded with laughter. At that point, it’s so ridiculous that it can only be funny. Who else could possibly screw up a crock pot meal?
At any rate, I did not get to have this for dinner on Tuesday night, either. I left it cooking…and cooking…and cooking.
I finally deemed it finished around midnight.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s 28 hours (twenty EIGHT hours) cooking time on this one simple stew.
I pulled the plug and put it in containers and called it a night.
Today, I, again, brought my container to work with me. Somehow, it didn’t occur to me to check it before…I was out on a limb. I heated it up in the microwave and carried it to my desk. I didn’t sample at all, because if it was horrible, I wanted to be alone. I sat down and took the first bite.
Seriously, are you on the edge of your seat?
It was delicious.
Delicious. Not just good, but excellent. I’m back to feeling proud, in case you couldn’t tell.
It was so good, I’m excited to eat it again for lunch tomorrow. (I’d have it for dinner, but tonight is my dinner at mom and dad’s. Don’t think I’m not excited about that!)
So, try the recipe if it sounds good to you. It really is…and next time I’ll know better. Next time, I should at least be able to cut that time in half!
But no matter how fast it cooks, I promise you, this will always and forever be known as my 28 Hour Stew.