Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crock pot: Ultimate tool of the lazy

The crock in my old crock pot broke awhile ago. This made me very sad, as replacement crocks cost as much as the original unit! However, I found a great replacement (red!) at the thrift store last week. It was $15, on a half off appliance day. Seven dollar, fifty cents (red!) crock pot? SOLD!

Lazy as I am, I am just now getting around to cooking in it. The first project, since the veggie child is at a sleepover, is beef stew.


1 1/4 pounds stew beef
4 shallots, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced in chunks
2 medium potatoes, cubed
generous grind black pepper
small glug red wine
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed in your hands before adding
1 tablespoon bacon fat (you do save bacon fat in your fridge, don't you?)
couple tablespoons soaking liquid from morel mushrooms

Toss it all in, set the crock pot on low. I expect it to be done in about 5 hours. I'll get back to you if I'm wrong.
Now, keep in mind, all of these measurements are approximate. Cooking, as I noted in the last entry, is not baking. Baking (well, baking cakes) is chemistry, and requires exact proportions. Cooking is far more forgiving, and you can more easily play it by ear. Don't have bacon fat? Toss in a little olive oil. Stew beef fatty enough? Skip it altogether. Plus, if you have garlic or onions to use up instead of shallots, well, use those instead.

Learning to cook by feel means that you can throw together an easy meal any day in less time than it would take for Chinese take out to arrive. Fresh food is good and cheap, and can be easy, too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rice Krispie Treats: Can you get even lazier with the laziest dessert ever?

Oh, yes. Yes you can.

I've been having a craving for rice krispie treats lately (or, rather, crispy rice treats, since I'm cheap and I buy the generic cereal). A short discussion with my vegetarian daughter revealed that she doesn't mind marshmallows, and she'll eat things that contain them. Armed with this knowledge, I stopped by the store & picked up the necessary ingredients.

Now, I was even less in the mood to stand over my stove & stir than normally, so, I wondered: can I nuke these? Indeed you can. The Kellogg's website says to microwave for 3 minutes, but I found that was far too long. I did mine 45 seconds at a time, stirring in between, and discovered that they were done after two short jaunts in the microwave. Stir in cereal, pat it in a pan, and, you're done!


3 tablespoons butter
1 10 ounce bag mini marshmallows
enough cereal for it to stick together.

Melt the marshmallows & butter together. When it's smooth, start stirring in cereal. Yeah, the official recipe has a measurement for the cereal, but, why bother? This is mixing, not baking. There's no chemistry involved here. Save your time & eyeball it. I promise, no one will die.