It all started a few weeks ago. We’d been to Lindsay and Mark’s for tea and had a beautiful lamb tagine cooked in their slow cooker. This prompted a lot of operational questions from Chris, which to the casual bystander would sound like those of a keen man, and you’d probably take away from this conversation that he was going to become a slow cooker enthusiast the very next day.
However if you’ve ever had a conversation with CP about changing his car, buying a folding caravan, or getting a blue suit, you’ll know that he is a man that doesn’t make a decision lightly, takes his research seriously, and doesn’t jump into things unprepared. So based on the fact that he’s been looking for a new car for two years, I knew that if I waited around for him to start our slow cooking adventure, I’d die of hunger.
They’ve always sounded like such a handy addition to any kitchen. I’ve had many a slow-cooked delicious chilli served by a chilled out Ailsa, who’d just turned it on that morning, and hadn’t been running round like a headless chicken preparing tea since she got in from work and had all the girls coming for tea at 7. The thing is with me and handy kitchen additions, they all fall under the umbrella of ‘things I think I want, but never use’.
There was the blender I asked Dad for a few years ago, when I’d decided during a health kick that I was going to start eating soups and drinking smoothies, and not only that, I was going to make my own. Now it’s made it out of the box admittedly, but the nearest it’s been to producing soup or smoothies is when I tried to blend some digestive biscuits to make a cheesecake. In case you were wondering, the cheesecake was of course a disaster. I could have just used a rolling pin, but I didn’t have one. It’s on my Christmas list.
Then there was the egg poachers. I tried a poached egg, liked it, and decided I was definitely the kind of person who got up on a weekend and poached eggs, made smoothies and read the Observer in a sunlit farmhouse kitchen before doing yoga. But the poachers of course, have never been used, and I still can’t touch my toes.
For a time my Mum thought if she bought me a utensil disguised as an animal I’d have better luck with it. But I have a bottle opener on my keyring and therefore don’t need a shark to do it, and I’m fairly scared of mashing potatoes so a peeler dressed up as a monkey wasn’t much help either.
Mandie summed it up pretty well on my birthday when she said, “We were going to get you something for your kitchen, but, well, we didn’t.” Because I don’t like my kitchen. It’s Arctic freezing, it’s damp, the tap is hanging off, and it’s impossible for two people to simultaneously make a brew and toast some bread without getting seriously into the others personal space. Shouldn’t be a problem when it’s your partner, but I’m not a morning person.
But there was definitely something in the conversation about slow cooking that night that made me think that with a bit of practice, this could turn into exactly my kind of cooking. Quick, painless, and hopefully tasty. Considering I ate some pasta last night that had fallen out of the pan and into the plughole whilst draining, I clearly have pretty low standards when it comes to taste, so that’s one box ticked.
My first effort was the week after. It was National Curry Week and Dad was coming for tea, so I decided to make him a curry. Building on the success of the frying onions in Italy, I figured I could really impress him this time. Armed with a Schwarz packet mix and instructions I didn’t think I could go wrong. Given that I realised in Italy that Dad has the world’s smallest appetite, and he didn’t understand why I would put potatoes in a curry, it wasn’t my biggest hit. To be honest I don’t think he understood why we weren’t in an Indian restaurant, but hey ho. I think the frozen naans went down best of all, but as far as first attempts go, it was passable. Chris finished off the entire rest of the pot, but he’s even worse than me when it comes to food standards, (erm, who eats meat that’s been in a packet in the cupboard for months unless it’s Pek?), so I didn’t give myself a gold star.
Last week was much better because I gave the preparation much more, well, preparation. What could be better than coming home from a step class, bright red and exhausted, and having a steaming pot of something yummy waiting for you. The coq au van was good, so clearly things were on the up in slow cook land. I had to keep the momentum going! I sensed that I was on the verge of revolutionising how we ate this winter, I just had to make sure I didn’t get bored and revert back to pasta and pesto like children, students and lazy 30 year olds have been eating for years.
Well tonight’s efforts have convinced me to keep it up. I got back from step class beetroot-esque, with a bowl of delicious Thai chicken massaman curry awaiting me. Ladies and gentleman, I am the Queen of the slow cooker. They rule, I can’t believe I doubted them, or myself. If you can fry onions, you can clearly do anything. Nights of proper food and hearty winter teas await us. I will never eat pesto again…OK, that’s a lie, but things are looking up for the Preshburn’s nutritionally.
The good news is that Chris is still keen to contribute, he’s continuing his research and this may soon become a joint interest. I’m optimistic that sometime before slow cookers are replaced by robots, we will slow dine to a recipe of his own. Seeing that our bedtime reading consisted of our Slow Cook cookbook last night, I clearly can kiss rock and roll goodbye, but as long as I get to stuff my face, I can’t complain. I’m clearly just embracing my 30’s…