If I had any self-doubt about my status as a housewife, this post ought to prove that I've accepted the situation. Today, I give thanks for my crock-pot. [I can see my incredulous, disgusted younger self shaking her head.]
Much like the minivan I never thought I'd own but have already given thanks for this month, the crock-pot is a tremendously boring but immensely useful tool that makes my daily life easier. I owned one for years without ever using it. Now I own three, and two sit out on my kitchen counter at all times.
I can cook. I just don't love it. I love to bake, but if we all subsisted on that, we'd have some serious issues. Despite my wishes to the contrary, it seems that my kids need to eat several times every day. My conscience will only permit so many chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and mac & cheese, regardless of how baked, all-grass-fed-beef or organic they each may be.
Our dinner schedule really is not conducive to cooking either. The kids have after school activities four weekdays that get us home from school by 5:30 or 6:00. The kids usually eat around 6:00. My husband works late, so we usually eat after the last kid bedtime of 8:30, meaning a second round of cooking and cleaning. In our house of picky eaters, there is only one meal that all four of us will eat--meatballs and sauce (hold the pasta or sub quinoa for the man of the house). We eat meatballs pretty often. You know a good way to make the sauce? That's right, make it in the morning and leave it in the crock-pot until everyone has dined.
What really turned me on about the crock-pot (yes, I just use "turn me on" and "crock-pot" in the same clause), was the release of cookbooks containing slow cooker recipes that did not contain a can of cream-of-something soup. Before that, I wasn't certain that anything but applesauce could be made in the crock-pot without a can of cream of mushroom soup. I have a few different slow cooker cookbooks and have checked some out of the library, but my go-to one is Make it Fast, Cook it Slow: The Big Book of Everyday Slow Cooking by Stephanie O'Dea from A Year of Slow Cooking. Armed with this cookbook and a crock-pot, I can make a healthy, tasty, non-cream-of-mushroom-soup-based dinner in the late morning or early afternoon while everyone else is at school and work. By the time we start drifting in for our various meals, the food is ready and waiting. I swear, it's like magic.
A magic device that cooks the food while I'm doing other stuff--now how could I fail to be grateful for that?