Author: Jessica Patient
Dearest Slow Cooker,
I remember the day you first arrived – frantically ripping at the plastic packaging, flinging the box into the downstairs cupboard, polishing up your glass lid as I didn’t want the sticker to leave a single mark on your body. Your outer body was flawless, not even a finger print smearing the chrome. All you needed was a quick wipe across your ceramic insides and you were ready to go. Even when you’re in love you need to still remember that the germs are watching, waiting on the sideline.
The first time was awkward but it always is the first time. It my entirely my fault – I added too much water, drowning the pinkish cubes of beef, carrot discs bobbing along in the casserole sauce concoction. Another full jug of hot water seemed like a sensible idea. But as you know, we came back from work, peered into your warm belly and all we could see was our soggy dinner. Yes, the meat was tender and soft but the sauce was RIP. I apologised, of course, and washed you out as they say, ‘jumped straight back in to the saddle.’
You haven’t been on this planet long enough to remember when humans cooked outside on open fires or even when stoves where invented but you were there when society started to change in the seventies – women were preparing the dinner in their slow cookers, heading off to work and then coming back to a tasty dinner. No more standing around in the kitchen all day, checking that the oven was looking after a tasty lamb stew. Society is no longer a slave to the kitchen now that you’re around. Convenience food has been labelled across chicken nuggets, burgers, fries but really that label should be for you.
Your design hasn’t changed much for those days of psychedelic wallpapers, wood panelling and flares. You may come in different sizes but you’re always an oval ceramic cooking pot, housed in a metal shell with a glass lid so you show off your cooking progress, showing off that its near impossible to burn. Sturdy and strong – that’s you.
I like the way I can leave you all day, knowing that you’ll take care of dinner especially if its been a tough day of concentrating and I don’t feel like chopping, slicing and waiting for the oven to brew up something quick. It means getting up in the morning as soon as the alarm sounds rather than rolling over for another five minutes. Chopping an onion and slicing meat is dangerous when you’re half sleepy. But once the lid’s on then all I need to do is make sure I have a plate clean, ready for the evening. Your little red light is like a beacon – you know that everything will be fine and safe with the slow cooker looking after the dinner during the day.
Those eruptions of bubbles, escaping, rattling the lid are your heartbeat. The honeymoon period will never be over. Okay, so we had a blip that time that I filled you sausages, a jar of sauce, and forgot to switch you on. Lets gloss over the fact that you’re the second slow cooker in my life. The first one ended badly. It won’t with you because I’ve learned from my mistakes – don’t put slow cookers into storage or you’ll get tearful over the cracks in the ceramic pot. You’re not the rebound slower cooker. Believe me, you’ve proved yourself the other weekend. That joint of beef you slowly cooked overnight was succulent. The meat sucked up the flavours of the half bottle of merlot, poured over it to keep it moist. Our dinner, with roast potatoes, fresh vegetables and that all important Yorkshire pudding was sublime.
Standing in the kitchen, giving you a stir, watching the sauce swirl around the meat and vegetables, giving you some encouragement is when the agony starts. The smells start to escape – that creamy coconut sauce weaved itself in the air. Even my tummy rumbled at that delicious smell. I couldn’t hide in another room because you have some sort of special power of reaching all of the corners of the house.
At least the beautiful dial lets me crank-up your sleepy pace in to a brisk walk pace. That ‘high’ setting is my ‘get out of jail card’ or should that be ‘get out of hunger card.’ Taunting me with those meaty aromas is unfair – my tummy crumples to the size of a pea but with the dial I have my dinner earlier. It brings risk of late night snacking but who cares. Not you. Not me.
Remember that beef casserole? I was up early browning the beef, frying the onions before getting you prepped for the day. You gulped down two cans of Guinness, feeding the meat and started swallowing down peas, carrots and fresh herbs. A couple of teaspoons of flour thickened up the sauce as you simmered away. I could taste the orange from the carrots. And dumplings. God, I love your squashy, bouncy dumplings. It’s as close as I’m ever going to get to eating clouds.
You’re not just another faddy kitchen gadget who gets all of the attention for a couple of months and then gets relegated to the back of the cupboard. You’re always out on the worktop, ready for action, powering through all seasons. My cooking skills improved ten-fold around the same time as you were commissioned. So please, don’t leave, I can’t bear the thought of my dinners dropping to the skill level of a ten year old.
I want us to branch out. No, I’m not splitting up with you. I think its time we learn to cook desserts – chocolate chip cakes, baked apples and even traditional bread pudding. It’s time that we have you cooking all three courses. From starter to dessert. Savoury to sweet. We can do this.
We could open a restaurant. The kitchen would simply be row upon row of slow cookers, all simmering away, lids bouncing. A wave of tasty aromas would float out of the restaurant and lure people to a table. Okay, so I’m getting ahead of myself but that could be your future.
Anyway, I should head to the shops for this week’s ingredients. You have a busy week ahead.