Thursday, April 8, 2010

I'm Calling to See if My House is on Fire

No worries - there's not a fire at our house and there hasn't been in the past.  But it didn't keep me from worrying about it every time I used my Crock Pot.

When I was newly married, it wasn't that long after Rival introduced a slower cooker called the Crock Pot to American homes. So in my defense, they were a relatively new gadget.  I was somehow convinced that if I left the Crock Pot unattended while I was working, it would spontaneously combust and our house would burn to the ground.

My brilliant solution for this - and I really wish I was kidding here - was my own version of an alarm system.  On the days that I used the Crock Pot, I called our home every hour to see if it was on fire.

How would I know, you ask?  Because I reasoned that since no one was home during the day, the phone wouldn't be in use.  But if there was a fire, my thought process led me to believe - inaccurately I'm sure - that I would get a busy signal because the wires would have been burned.

Take a minute and let the brilliance of that soak in and then cut me some slack - I was only 19 at the time.

I'm a few years past 19 now and I have a lot of experience with slow cookers under my belt.  I still have that old Rival Crock Pot and it still works just like it did back then, and I'm also happy to report that it has never been the source of a fire.

It's time for it to be put to pasture though - the old grey mare (or the old yellow mare, in this case) just isn't keeping up with modern times.

I've tried a few slow cookers over the years and I haven't found any that knocked my socks off, but several months ago, I acquired one that I can finally highly recommend - The Hamilton Beach 3 in 1 Slow Cooker.

This thing is awesome.  I love that it has three different sizes of crocks and that they all have the same lid and fit into the same base.  It stores compactly and it cooks the food to perfection - no undercooking or overcooking.

And just so you walk away from this with something, I present to you my most recent favorite slow cooker recipe.

Slow Cooker Turkey and Dressing
8 oz pkg. stuffing mix
1/2 cup hot water
2 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 c sweetened diced cranberries
3 lb boneless turkey breast
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Coat a 4 quart slow cooker with non stick spray; Spoon in dry stuffing mix. Add water, butter, onion, celery and cranberries. Mix well.

Sprinkle turkey with salt, pepper and basil and place over stuffing mix. Cook on low, covered, for 6-7 hours on low.

Remove turkey, slice and set aside. Gently stir up the stuffing and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.

(Apparently 3 lb. boneless turkey breasts are illegal in Illinois or something, so I used a 3 lb. frozen turkey roast found in the freezer section and I actually think it worked better.  I've also used chicken and it worked great too - I just would use boneless breasts or chicken tender strips so that they can soak up the yummy goodness from the stuffing.)

And I promise that your slow cooker will not spontaneously burst into flames and burn your house to the ground.  Call home every hour and check if you want.


Loquacious said...

I got the 3 in 1 cooker a couple years ago for Christmas. It totally saved my sanity! The 3 sizes are extra wonderful and the perfectly awesome lid is beyond amazing- the steam releasing valve is ingenious.

~jane said...

Carla, thanks for the recipe. I made it yesterday and it was yummy. It will be a regular repeater for us. Going to look for some other stuffing mix though.

For the longest time I couldn't use the crock pot if I would be out of the house. I was so afraid it would stop cooking and the food would spoil and we'd have nothing to eat. So I'd walk by the pot and touch it several times an hour to make sure it was still hot. I still do that but only when I'm home. I'm able to leave the house now and not worry - too much - that the food isn't cooking.