By Sara Davis Christie
So, I’ve been thinking about writing about crock pots for a long time now, but the timing never seemed right. Then, this week, as if the universe was sending me a sign, This Is Us put that crock pot front and center and we’ve all been reeling since. (SPOILER: If you’re not caught up just close the browser right now. Unless you like spoilers, in which case we’re glad you’re here!) For thirty-one episodes, the emotional sadists that run This Is Us have been toying with us, letting us fall further in love with Jack, all the while we all know he’s going to die, we just don’t know when or how. So, every week you tune in and wonder if you’re finally going to get some answers about how it all went down, but you also kind of hope you don’t because you know when it finally happens you’re just going to be ugly crying and wondering why in the hell you put yourself through this damn show in the first place! Ugh.
I have to say that I knew what we were in for as soon as that kindly old man neighbor handed him that crock pot and said whatever he said about jiggling the knob. I felt horrified, betrayed. It was bad enough that these turdface writers were killing off the most lovable character on the show and sending us all straight on down to Sob City, but then they added insult to injury and brought the crock pot into it!! Why!? SALT IN THE WOUND. Here’s the thing, I loved Jack just as much as the next person, but the crock pot has been a long time true blue friend, nay, family member, to me for so long I can’t remember. So, to say that my long trusted and adored crock pot was to blame for this tragedy was just too much. Even worse, as I witnessed this all go down, was that I knew in my heart of hearts that a crock pot panic was about to sweep the nation. Devastating.
By the time I got up the next morning, all my fears were actualized as I saw tweet after tweet with things like “brb throwing my crock pot out asap” and “never again, crock pot.” My heart broke. Did these people not realize what they were saying? Have they forgotten about all the cheese dip, and meat balls, and chili they have been served at a perfectly warm temperature thanks to our good friend the crock pot? Were they so overwhelmed with Jack’s death that they forgot how much easier parties were to prepare for all because of the crock pot? Well, I can’t stand for this. So now, I will recount some of the best qualities of the crock pot so we can right this terrible wrong.
If there is an easier way to make a meal for a family than cooking it in the crock pot, I just don’t know what it is. The way it happens in my house is that I think to myself “Ugh, I need to go to the grocery store. Again. But I don’t wannnnnnnnt tooooooo.” Then I wrack my brain trying to think of what I can come up with to put it off for another day. After that, I go and stand in front of the pantry, and then the freezer, and back and forth until inspiration strikes. Eventually I pick a bunch of random ingredients, dump them all the in the crock pot, turn that magic machine on low and go to work. Then, when I come home, the house is filled with the delicious aroma that you can only get when you realize that you don’t have to cook because you already handled that!! This process is a bit risky, but in my experience even the weirdest combos have always come out pretty enjoyable. If you’re a better, more grocery store amenable person than I am, it’s even easier. You can make a grocery list for a week’s worth of completely different types of crock pot meals and when you add it all up it’s still usually a very good deal. Side note: I was always sad that the crock pot was not in Ron Popeil’s line of products because to me, there’s no better “set it and forget it!” item out there.
To me, the worst part about cooking at home is that no matter how delicious your meal turns out to be, your kitchen is still a disaster area. If anyone can figure out why everything requires 3-5 pots and approximately 124 spoons, please let me know. With the crock pot though, you have next to nothing to clean up! You might feel fancy and sear your meats in a skillet first, but that’s still only two things to wash. Plus, the geniuses over at Reynold’s came out with crock pot liners so you can just throw all that pot juice away, so now you don’t even have to soak or scrub! Easiest ever.
Crock pots for all your needs!
If you are a personal friend of mine, you’ve already heard this. For the rest of you, I would just like to encourage you to spend some time googling and perusing all of the crock pots and crock-pot type products on the market. They have every size that you can imagine! They have small individuals that link together to form a magnificent crock pot buffet! Are you making a sauce that needs to stay warm throughout a party, but isn’t even to use a standard CP? Then the Little Dipper is for you! Or how about the Swing n’ Serve, a party worthy crock pot tower of goodness? Are you the type to forget to turn your CP on before you leave? There’s a crock pot app for that! With the wifi you can control your crock pot from anywhere! There’s even a self-stirring crock pot! Game changer. I’m fully convinced that if you have cooking need, there is a crock pot that can meet it.
It would be an injustice to have such an in-depth discussion about crock pots and not mention how much nostalgia they stir up. When the neighbor man brought Jack and Rebecca that crock pot, everyone’s first reaction was to notice that flower pattern on the outside and think something along the lines of “oh, that’s just like the one my mom/grandma/aunt had.” For me, crock pots remind me of my mom, and of Sunday lunches at church, and chili cook offs. I think the deal is that most of the time when you had a crock pot meal, nobody was stressed out about cooking and everyone just enjoys their dinner together.
These days you can’t really have a conversation about crock pots without someone bringing up the Instant Pot, so let’s just hash it out. Look, the instant pot seems great. I don’t have one but I have a pressure cooker product that is basically identical just without the branded sticker. I’ve had it for a little over a year and I haven’t ever used it. It came with an instruction manual, and who’s got the time for that? Also, in my mind, pressure cookers are the thing that grandmas use when they’re puttin’ up peas and that occasionally blow up and set someone’s house on fire. I’m not puttin’ up any peas because I’m not cool or patient enough for that, and I’m not looking to start any house fires, so I just haven’t been motivated to give it a whirl. In my heart I think it would feel a little bit like a betrayal. The crock pot takes a little more time, but it always comes through.
This Sunday is the Super Bowl, one of the most iconic American traditions. I would challenge you to not let the clear fear mongering of the This Is Us folks get you down and instead, bust out that crock pot. Serve your friends some cheese dip. Make a big ole pot of chili. Reclaim your slow cookin’ life.