Growing up, I never had a crockpot. We had a dishwasher, but never used it. We never bought pre-cut veggies and made our rice by watching the boil, then simmer, then steam -- not by pressing a button.
I still hand-wash my dishes and cut my own vegetables and cook my rice in a lo-fi pot. But now I have a crockpot. Or -- excuse me -- a slow cooker.
People can have a very strange relationship with convenience. Surely you know people who refuse to get smartphones. They don't want to be "constantly connected." But, really, you're always going to be connected. You live in New York City, not New Guinea. Why would you deny yourself the convenience of information, entertainment, and organization at any moment?
And so I came to desire a crockpot. Why wouldn't I want dinner ready for me when I get home? Why would I want to stand over a hot pan while I could be doing something else?
Fact is, I like standing over the pan. I like controlling cooking times and preparing things separately. And besides, slow cookers make me feel funny, like shower caps and crochet.
But Julian and I are working on building out our kitchen, and I was curious. Theretically, I knew there is no shame in a stew. A roast slow cooked by any other means would still taste as sweet.
As my very first slow cooker recipe, I made this Fava French Onion Soup. I typically make beans by soaking them overnight and blasting them with a rough and tumble boil. But not this time around. I tossed in some dry beans, two red onions, a couple garlic cloves, and a dash of cumin. Then I went to sleep.
Right after I brushed my teeth in the morning, I lifted the lid and tried it. I was shocked. Of course I've had French onion soup, but I guess I never really knew what gave it that sweet, full-bodied flavor. Slow cooking gave the soup that browned patina of age. And I hardly did anything!
Part of me still feels a bit ashamed by it. There's something more noble (and, let's be honest, brag-worthy) about effort. Mast Brothers can't charge $10 a chocolate bar by phoning it in.
But I don't want to be that unrealistic, short-sighted snob. Slow cookers give New Yorkers what we desperately need -- time to let flavor develop, time to do the things we love, and time to shed ourselves of silly notions of grandeur.