We ended up with a lot of leftover champagne. Chip thinks you can just throw it away, but I think there’s an ordinance governing old paint cans and champagne bottles. If you must dispose of them, they must be empty. And don’t pour either in a creek or down a drain!
It’s very cold right now. Extremely cold. Unusually cold for
Now to give you a clear idea of exactly how cold it is here, the food in my refrigerator is also frozen. My Diet Peach Snapple Iced Tea (uncompensated product placement) has chunks of ice in it. The lettuce is ruined. As a result, I have learned something else. Although your refrigerator is well insulated, that’s to keep out the heat, not the cold. If the temperatures outdoors are in the single digits, there’s a good chance that your outdoor refrigerator won’t be too much warmer than that. Don’t “Duhhhh….” me, I’m sure you don’t know everything either.
Speaking of appliances, let’s go back to the slow-cooker. I use mine a lot. Frequently doesn’t quite cover it. And the most important thing I can share about using a slow-cooker (i.e., Crock Pot) is that any meat will come out tender as long as there are three ingredients: acid, sweetness, time. (No, not thyme, that’s another issue). The acid breaks down the meat, so even the toughest cuts become incredibly tender (I haven’t tried this with my shoes yet), and the sweetness counteracts the acidic taste. The importance of time is what slow-cooking is all about, allowing all the ingredients to incorporate into something greater than the sum of its parts.
Not all slow-cooker cooking is easy; sometimes you have to precook things on the stove. I don’t use recipes like that. My slow-cooker is a convenience tool; throw in all the ingredients, look at it in four or five hours, serve it in about 6 to 8 hours. Beef takes longer; chicken and pork take less time. When my daughters were children, I used to make a beef stew—stovetop—from an old Pennsylvania Dutch recipe. It was based on the combination of sweets and sours, and is actually ideal for slow-cooking. Here’s how difficult it is: take meat (chicken, pork, beef, whatever) throw it in a slow-cooker that contains ¼ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, and an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce. Throw in some chopped onion, carrots, potatoes, or whatever it is you like. You can use corn, sweet potatoes, celery, and/or peas. You can use frozen vegetables. If you are going to use veggies that cook quickly, save them for the last two hours of cooking. If you don’t like potatoes, make noodles on the side (the original recipe called for noodles, not potatoes). Pineapple chunks are a great addition. I’ve made this with stew chunks, cheap beef roasts, London broil, pork chops, pork roast, and boneless chicken breasts. Not all at once, though. I have served it to dozens of people (ain’t potluck great?) and everyone wants the recipe. It’s not your mama’s stew or pot roast, unless--of course--I’m your mama.