On Cooking…Slowly

I have not had the best of luck with slow cookers. No, stay with me; there’s a point to this. And while it might not be interesting, it is anecdotal plus has the benefit of being true. If that helps.

In our house, we use the slow cooker a couple of times a week, so I’ve had more than enough opportunities to really and thoroughly explore how to mess up cooking with one.

Up to now, I have:

  • Forgot to turn it on, leaving meat to sit on the bench for six hours.
  • Remembered to turn it on, but forgot to plug it in.
  • Remembered to both plug it in and turn it on, but forgot to put the lid on.
  • Cooked the meat packaging along with the meat.

You would think it basically idiot-proof, a slow cooker, but I’m determined to be the idiot that disproves this theory. Never let it be said that I lack ambition.

My premium failure with the slow cooker came about when I was first dating my now wife, the sainted Mrs. Small Change. My other “first-dating-my-wife” funny story involves the phrase “skull collection” and I haven’t worked out how to tell that one without sounding like a serial killer. (I’m not a serial killer. Or, you know, any kind of killer. Unless you count killer sentences, which you probably don’t.)

I, wanting to prove my domestic credentials, had suggested to my then-lady-friend that I cook dinner for us, and she gracefully – with little outward signs of hesitation – accepted my invitation. I looked up a recipe for lime chicken online, to be cooked in the slow cooker; I bought all the ingredients, like a real adult, and went to work creating something that would go some way to impress this incredible woman.

I don’t know what I was thinking. Maybe I just got cocky, a little too sure of myself. I cooked every day for my son, so I knew what I was doing, right? So, over-confident-me thought, let’s put a little twist on this recipe.

Squeeze in the juice of two limes? Right. But what if it needs more lime-ness? Obviously, creative cooking genius that I am, I knew the thing to do: throw in the wholelimes, skin and all, and let it cook with the chicken for six hours. Extra limey goodness to a higher power, surely?

I was surprised that the recipe writer hadn’t thought of this. But then, clearly, I’m ahead of the curve when it comes to chicken-and-citrus recipes in slow cookers.

Only…and I know you’re ahead of me here…things did not turn out as I’d expected. Lime rind is very very bitter. Cook it with chicken for six hours and the whole thing gets very very bitter. Unpleasantly bitter. Inedibly bitter.

And, to her great credit, my then-date ate more than one mouthful before giving up and concentrating on the rice. Soon, we were both making the effort to pretend we had eaten enough, which, looking back, is cute.

If something similar happened today, we’d have pizzas on our doorstep in 20 minutes. Young(er) love is wonderful, sure, but married people certainly eat better. At least, in my experience.

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