Jan 7, 2011

A Farewell to Crockpot Cooking; Or, How to Break Up Ethically with a Kitchen Appliance

It finally happened, the old gal had just been stuffed with one too many stews, briskets, chickens, and chilis. She started smelling like burned plastic and not heating enough, so I transferred her last meal, a White Chicken Chili with Root Vegetables (from The Food Matters Cookbook), to my big pasta pot. A pasta pot isn't quite the thing, because it's too tall to heat the food evenly, but it was the only one big enough to hold everything. (And yes, I know I should use the term "slow cooker" but I just like "crockpot" for its succinct cuteness.)

Since I'd been contemplating breaking up with the whole crockpot idea for a while, anyway, I was less than heartbroken. Callously, and without a proper mourning period, I Amazoned (sure, it can be verb) a nice big red 6-quart ceramic-lined cast iron Dutch oven. It's Lodge, not Le Creuset--what with college tuition approaching in eight years, and all that. Crockpots, while they're handy, aren't quite my style. For one thing, I don't like to smell food all day. Plus meat is much better seared first, and if you're going to do that you may as well use the same pan and braise everything in the oven. In the end, though, I just can't stand leaving that much food in a pot and then not being allowed to peek or fuss with it until almost the end. Just can't do it. Plus my new Dutch oven is much prettier than that big old ugly crockpot. See, I have no loyalty.

Even bigger and uglier than a crockpot is a bread machine. A couple years ago I broke up with the idea of a bread machine as a worthwhile investment, mainly because annoying little parts would break, and replacing them was mind-numbingly complicated. I'm sure I could give it a go again, but why? It's not hard to make bread without one.

Now I'm stuck with a bread machine that technically might work if anyone bothered to contact the company again about the basket problem, and how they sent the wrong replacement basket, and also a crockpot that has a little electrical problem. There's nothing wrong with the ceramic crock or lid. I refuse to throw this stuff away but I can't in good conscience drop them blithely off at Goodwill.

How do you liked being dragged into my mundane, banal ethical dilemma? Want to give me advice? Of course you do.


Domestic Goddess said...

I don't get bread machines but crockpots are a necessity in my house. I do make a couple of things in the crockpot that are TDF. To die for. Soups and whatnot. And a mean white chicken chili.

julienj said...

Don't tell Eric about your appliances. He comes from a long line of tinkerers - he loves testing connections, replacing fuses, etc. And we always have a backlog of our own stuff.

I love our bread machine - I use it 3-4 times a week. The crockpot not quite as much, but it's great to throw everything in in the morning and then come home from work and have dinner all ready to go.

Oh, and we have a Le Creuset Dutch oven that we received as a wedding present 17 years ago. I use it more than the crockpot...

Connie Gilday said...

The most important use my crockpot gets all year is in keeping the mashed potatoes hot on Thanksgiving! I can get them out of the way a few hours early. I even borrow my neighbor's crockpot as well to keep the sweet potatoes warm.

Anjali said...

I've recently heard that crockpots have LEAD! Fact or fiction? Who knows. But still worrysome.

MemeGRL said...

Two answers to your dilemma:
1) The local college's engineering dept. often takes broken small appliances for the engineering students to practice on. Or they used to, once upon a time. It might be worth emailing someone about.
2) Freecycle. Sign up on Yahoo groups if you haven't already and list them. Be honest; and someone will probably still want your stuff, either as an extra or for parts or because they would rather pay the <$20 and the time for the missing/broken parts. I've been shocked and humbled at the junk I have gotten rid of that others are thrilled to have.

Robin said...

A few things:
* Craig's List
* e-Bay
* If you're in a hurry or have to be out of the house all day, you might change your mind about the crock pot, um, slow cooker.
* Agree about the bread maker--the breads were tasting and looking all the same, so ours fell into disuse. Which reminds me...
a. Craig's List
b. Ebay
* New Year's Resolution: Get rid of the old stuff.
p.s. Don't those cast-iron roasting pans weigh 1,000 pounds?