The recent heatwave in Vancouver brings back memories of those sultry summers down south. Eating in the summer is fun, but cooking and doing dishes in hot hot heat is not my idea of a good time. It’s a nostalgic chore: washing a mountain of dishes by hand in the middle of July with the radio on. Even with a fan blowing the hot, humid air around, nothing cools off until the sun goes down. Of course, it was always nice to have a dip in the pool (i.e. bathtub of cold water) afterward. Things haven’t changed much, except I don’t wear my dishwashing bikini anymore.
Summertime cooking doesn’t have to turn the house into a sauna, nor does dinner need to be limited to salads and sandwiches. Grilling out takes the heat away from the kitchen, but sadly we have neither a grill nor the space to use it. Recently, I’ve been missing my crock pot and toaster oven, both of which have gone on to the great small-appliance graveyard in the sky.
Happily, a few days ago, I found the perfect brand new crock pot on sale for about $16, so I snapped it up quick. It isn’t fancy; there’s no indicator light and only one knob with three speeds: Low, High, and Off. However, it does have two very important crock pot features: an oval shape and a lift-out crock. The oval shape is perfect for accomodating racks of ribs, long loin cuts, even a couple of cornish hens would fit side by side, and the crock separates for easy cleanup (or serving at the table). I’m so looking forward to making some pulled pork in the not-too-distant future.
The one drawback to crock pot cooking is that more often than not, I end up with a mushy, overcooked, boring stew of sorts. Last night, I made my first crock pot meal in ages. I threw together a chicken and vegetable red curry with rice, and once that was done, I decided to make a cake for dessert. Yes, you CAN bake in a crock pot! I made a peach cake topped with a mixture of brown sugar and water that turned into a caramelly sauce by the end of cooking. Not bad at all! It was very moist, rather dense, and super sweet. After a few more tries and variations, I think the results will improve. I just can’t believe it worked!