Jan 14, 201308:36 AMFood & Dining
Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought
What? A Crock?
Yes, it's that time of year. January. A long, dark depressing month.
I leave for work in the dark and when I come home it's dark. The vibrant Christmas lights have been taken down. Christmas cookies have been long eaten and there's no more excuses to overindulge.
Six weeks until Valentines day and two months until Spring.
The magazine covers are full of headlines like, "New Year, New You", "Start Your Year off Right", and “Healthy Thirty-minute Dinners.” I know I should be writing cheerily about New Year's resolutions, exercise, and healthy food choices, but I just want to hibernate like a bear and sleep until the fresh buds of spring explode on the vine and the days are long enough for me to see some sunlight outside of a short lunchtime errand.
But there is one thing that can manage to lift my spirits in these long dark days. It is my 1975 tangerine orange Crock-Pot.
During the long warm days of last summer, when the sun shone brightly upon my 6:30 a.m. arrival at the flea market, I purchased an orange Rival Crock-Pot circa 1975. Coincidentally, later that summer I found the exact companion cookbook for the attractive price of $1.
The Crock-Pot reminds me of those summer weekends, and looking at the cookbook and the Kodachrome pictures inside reminds me of what I perceive as the simpler, more innocent era of my youth.
Polyester leisure suits were in fashion, Bill Gates just developed the microcomputer Altair 8800 and Bruce Springsteen released Born to Run. The yearly inflation rate was 9.2% and gas was 44 cents a gallon. We didn’t worry so much about global warming, genetically engineered foods, or superstorms. We didn’t have Wegman’s, organic food or unfortunately as many fresh vegetables and gourmet ingredients.
I perused the recipes and ingredients in the cookbook. Many of the common ingredients are from a box or a can, such as onion soup mix, or can of sliced mushrooms. Some of the ingredients are downright alarming, such as monosodium glutinate, or vegetable protein powder.
The recipe titles range from the dated (Working Girl's Favorite, Bachelor Stew, Male Chauvinist Chili) to the odd (Turnip Custard, Chinese Cashew Tuna, with canned tuna, and Cock ‘n Bull Stew), to the oddly appealing (Ham 'N Cola, Chicken Divan, Dilly Casserole Bread.)
And....who knew you could make New York Style Cheesecake, Scrapple, or old fashioned Apple Butter in a crock pot? Plus, the crock pot would be perfect for a Superbowl side-dish and easy winter suppers after a long day of work.
One-pot clean-up would be easy and a few simple tweaks to the recipes would update the dishes to make them modern and more healthy. I had a host of possibilities to try before Spring.
The cold January morning after I read the cookbook I drove my daughter to school at 7:10 a.m. The sun was not quite up yet, but it was inching closer to the horizon every morning.
That morning a beautiful pink and orange sunrise graced our eyes. The orange in the sunrise reminded me of my crock pot.
Every day the sun will inch closer to the top of the mountain until it will burst forth early and the mornings will be sunny and bright. It is still some time before Spring arrives, but it will get here eventually.
In the meantime, I have my tangerine orange Crock-Pot to brighten my day.
HAM ‘N COLA
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp prepared horseradish
- 1 can cola
- 3-4 lb precooked ham.
- Thoroughly combine brown sugar, mustard and horseradish.
- Moisten with just enough cola to make a smooth paste. Reserve remaining cola.
- Rub entire ham with mixture.
- Place Crock-Pot on low and add remaining cola.
- Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high setting for 2 hours.