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.