I work from my home, and I homeschool my kids, which means I field all kinds of questions from them all day long. And even though I love to cook and try out tons of recipes and nothing makes me happier than hungry mouths to fill, there is one particular question that always makes me feel pressured:
“What’s for dinner?”
(I hear it in a growling, distorted, horror-movie voice with scary harpsichord music playing.)
Even though I plan menus and usually know what I’m making, the question still paralyzes me.
It’s probably some latent test anxiety left over from high school. I somehow feel like I’m on the spot and I’d better get the answer right - or . . . DIE. (buahahahaha! Insert crashing thunder and lightning effects here.)
Enter my crockpot, which I (obviously) love. I love being able to fix something in the morning and forget about it all day. It gives me a happy feeling of accomplishment. It's like having a Cuban grandmother in the house serving up the very best comfort food there is.
But here's the most compelling reason for my unnatural attachment to my crockpot: it preempts the dreaded question, because, they can peek in the pot early in the day and know what they can look forward to at dinnertime. Not only that, but the smell of whatever is happening in the kitchen starts wafting through the house and all I get is positives: “Dinner smells awesome.” "Whatever you made is going to be great!" "Should we set the table now?" (ok, that last one was really more of a fantasy. . =D)
I usually set the timer on the bread machine so that the smell of freshly baking bread coincides with dinnertime and the olfactory overload completely disorients them. They get so focused on what they are smelling, that all other senses become useless. It doesn’t even matter what I’m making any more, because the smells are making them salivate and sing my praises before they get to the table. Yes, I admit it’s manipulative. But it works.
Too bad this process doesn’t translate to the internet, because on Wednesdays I usually find an email in my inbox from Val wondering what I’m cooking for Babalú on Thursdays.
Can you guess the subject line?
Carne con Papas Recipe
- Olive oil (twice around the pan)
- ½ small white onion, chopped
- ½ green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ tsp. ground cumin
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 2 tablespoons bijol
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 2 lbs. beef stew meat
- 2 white potatoes (cut into small cubes)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 cups beef boullion (6 cubes)
1) Make the boullion with 6 cubes and 4 cups water.
2) Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute the onion, green pepper and garlic until the onion is translucent.
3) Add cumin, salt, pepper, bijol, and bay leaves.
4) Add tomato sauce and cook for about a minute. Just to heat through.
5) Put the rest of the ingredients into the crockpot.
6) Cook on low setting for 6-8 hours.
NOTE: If you’re impatient and not intimidated by it, you can make this same thing in a pressure cooker.
Follow steps 1-4, but put in a pressure cooker instead of a crockpot.
Following manufacturer’s directions, cook under 15 pound pressure for about 45 minutes.