This will be the first of several posts that I am copying from my blog “The Life & Times of a Winged Cat“. These reposts will continue until all the cooking posts there have been moved here.
Originally published June 26, 2005:
For those who don’t know what that means, a paradigm shift occurs when your reality, your core beliefs, or your perception of your reality undergoes a change.
Gryphon and I have been undergoing a paradigm shift lately. A big one. It started with closing our bead store after 2 1/2 years, and it has continued as we transition from people who did almost nothing but work at that store, to people who have time to work on their lives.
My diet had already changed in a small way after my diagnosis of diabetes back in December. Recently, Gryphon and I have been trying to make even more improvements in how we eat, as well as how much we spend. We decided to find a way to make better food without spending all our time in the kitchen.
We have had a crockpot for some time, and this proved to be the right idea. I began by adapting an old microwave recipe for Sloppy Joes that we had always enjoyed. Success! It was tasty, inexpensive, and healthier than those frozen packaged foods. And the batch was large enough that we still have some in the freezer!
The next day, I created a soup recipe out of my own imagination in the crockpot. The goal was to use up a bag of broccoli slaw I had in the fridge that was getting old. I envisioned a chicken soup, but not an ordinary chicken soup – mine would have lemon juice in it, and couscous, and chickpeas, and lots of dill.
I’ve never seen a recipe quite like what I came up with, but my imagination proved right on target – everyone who has tasted my lemon chicken chickpea soup has loved it! I need to try to nail down the exact ingredients now so that I can post a recipe. I promise, I’ll work on it – I have already had requests!
Having had this much success, Gryphon and I decided we’d try to do at least one crockpot recipe each weekend, something to eat for one meal right away with leftovers. I browsed recipes on the web, and found several for split pea soup – a favorite of mine. Gryphon doesn’t care for it, but I can do something specially for him next time.
So I made my shopping list, gathered up the ingredients, and Saturday night we went to assemble the materials. That’s when we looked closely at the recipe and realized…it needed a larger crockpot than we owned! Our largest was only 4 quarts, and the recipe needed 5 1/2. I tried to consider reducing the recipe, but just how do you measure out 5/8 of a ham hock?!?
Drat, and double-drat! We sat down and thought about how to deal with this. A little research on the web revealed the price range we could expect for a 6 quart crockpot. Gryphon, as tight as the budget is, nevertheless agreed that he was willing for us to buy a tool for something that is working so well for us. But how long were we willing to wait for a crockpot to arrive in the mail?
Then we remembered – even though it was 10 p.m. on a Saturday night, we had an option: there’s a 24-hour WalMart nearby! So off we went on an appliance buying expedition.
It worked out as well for us as the cooking had. We found a discontinued model of the Rival 6-qt. Smart Crock on the shelf at a good bargain. (The one pictured at the left is fundamentally the same as ours, only it’s chrome where ours is white.) The Smart Crock actually has pre-programmed settings for the most commonly used time and temperature combinations – High for either 4- or 6-hours, or Low for 8- or 10- hours. After the set time is reached, it goes into a Keep Warm mode. So if you wind up getting home even later than expected, you can rest assured that your dinner won’t get overcooked in the crock!
Properly equipped now, we went ahead this morning with the fixings for my pea soup. The house smelled wonderful all day as it simmered away. I picked up a nice sourdough boule from the supermarket to slice up and eat with it for dinner, and brother, was that heavenly! I have 5 pints of the stuff ready to go into the freezer now.
Oh, yeah…here’s what it looked like. The ham hocks were very meaty, I was impressed.
I don’t expect I’ll be posting the recipe for this one – I got it at RecipeZaar
, if you’re interested. They have at least a dozen different postings of split pea soup recipes for the crockpot, and they all look tasty.