Christmas is the perfect time to acknowledge that I have a secret love in my life.
No, the One will not be surprised. He knows all about it and he almost always participates in the outcome.
My confession: I am in love with my crockpot. The One gave it to me a couple of years ago when its predecessor, with which I had a long-standing relationship of some twenty years, died abruptly one chilly day that, until its demise, had been perfect for chili. We had baked fish for dinner and I set out on a life of Cooking WIth Intention.
Now, I love to cook. When I was ten, I learned that people actually love you more if you feed them well. That was the year I made my first meal for the family. My mother, who hardly reacted when I brought home all A's on my report card, beamed with pride over my first simple meal. (For the life of me, I can't recall now what I cooked. I remember bringing a steaming dish or two to the table and hearing everyone exclaim.)
Cooking became one of the very few things my mother and I could share that did not bore her or me. She taught me everything she knew, and, since she was a prodigious cook with an instinctual understanding for how long a custard should simmer, those basics taught by her have served me well. I have considerably extended my repertoire beyond her traditional Mountain Southern standards, but a custard pudding and creme brulée or but variations on a theme.
So throughout the year I make meals that call for considerable preparation and close attention. I throw dinner parties, an annual Kentucky Derby dinner complete with Hot Browns, pecan pie, and mint juleps, a Native American Thanskgiving with bean bread and sage dressing, and other complex menus.
But during the holidays, all that thought and scheming must be diverted to delighting friends and satisfying obligations, so I repair to my trusted crock pot, to which I consign beans, soup, and roasts to form the basis for meals and their left-over rehashes
So far in the last week I've made red beans and rice, vegetable soup, and a beef roast. Before New Year's Day there will be three-bean chili, soup from left-over turkey and rice, and arroz con pollo. And any other little thing that came be stewed into something more than its parts.