I love my slow cooker. I have a fairly hefty sized one that I got in 1997 and it’s been like a good friend – a good friend who spends his entire day cooking for me as I slave away at work. I love coming home to a house that smells like I have an Italian woman chained to a stovetop forced to cook for me like she was a mail-order bride, eager to make me happy so she could kill me with cholesterol.
Last week I was asked to partake in a University of Toronto study of men who cook. The meaning of the study is much more involved (some sort of gender bender study) but I’ll leave it at that. Know that there is a research group at the Uni looking into men who enjoy cooking. I gladly said yes because, hey, look at me sideways on. I love to cook. I’m not incredibly super at it, but I love the planning and the execution and the enjoyment of eating. Obviously.
As part of this study I was asked to keep a diary of my cooking habits and so far, it’s been successful. While planning meals in advance of the week (and to up=play the diary, admittedly) I was digging down into the ice age era of my freezer and I discovered a pack of stewing beef. Perfect. One of my favorite dishes immortalized in this study: “Everything In The Fridge Stew”
Basically you start out with a base:
1/2 cubed beef or pork
1/3 cup flour
2 cups beef or veggie broth
2 medium sized potatoes, quartered
2 celery stalks
At least 1 cup of whatever veggies you have sitting around
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dollop of BBQ sauce
Cayenne pepper/dried basil/orageno
Toss the meat into the slow cooker. Add flour, salt and pepper. Stir well until the meat is coated. Add veggies. Add Broth. Add spices. Turn the damn thing on for minimum 6 hours. Go enjoy life.
Anyway. Yesterday morning I got to the part where you throw sit-around veggies in and I found some orange peppers and yellow string beans – nice stew foddder. Then things went south. I found a cabbage SharkBoy likes to get me to boil for a side dish sometimes (boil til soft, drain, add vinegar – yum – cheap ‘slaw!) so I thought I should add some. Chop chop chop, add add add, cook cook cook.
After a long day at work, it warmed my heart to knowing that I would throw open my apartment door and smell a rich beef stew. I love doing that to our neighbours – take that, Mr Noisy at 3am fuckers! That’s right, we’re eating beef! Ha!
I shoved my key into the lock and I yank the apartment door open! I inhale like a post-theatre student in his first Bounce commercial.
I forgot that cabbage has a distinctive odour when it is cooked. Especially when left in a warm environment for over 10 hours. I had bothered my neighbours, alright. The food taunting had backfired on us – the apartment smelled like Betty White’s underwear after filming The Proposal.
Seriously it smelled like gym sock, fart and had a delicious aftersmell of cooked beef. I avoided the kitchen and walked into the office to find SharkBoy is on his computer, window open, hand over nose.
“Toronto smells today!” he muffles. He often complains on how Toronto smells when the wind blows off the lake across the sewage treatment plant.
“Uhm. That’s dinner,” I offer.
I cautiously open the lid to the crock pot. The smell. I can only compare it to living with a dormitory of athletic guys during some higher education session. Without the sexy glances in the hallway to the showers. Or like durian left in the sun. I gingerly took a nibble…
…and it wasn’t half bad! In fact it was quite good, once you got past the smell. The cabbage tasted quite good!
Currently every window is open in the house. My interview with the Uni students will be conducted with used Bounce sheets taped to our noses.