The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.10.05


Comes once again the lowly crock pot

There are some truths to quaint sayings. "What goes around comes around and what was once old is new again."

Such is the case in my household and something was bound to happen eventually. Many hours have been spent admiring a vast array of kitchen appliances at the local big box store and many more have been spent in contemplation of a purchase or two.

Thankfully a Christmas gift has saved me some coin and replaced an item I had discarded years ago when it fell out of grace and style.

I speak of the lowly crock-pot. The slow cooker that reigned supreme in the seventies and eighties was abandoned en masse and subsequently found only at yard sales for yet another decade.

Smart people hung on to theirs. Others like myself contributed to the used appliance economy that stocks shelves at charity stores. After all, with little space to archive such heavy crockery, what was one to do?

The crock-pot is in serious revival mode in what can only be described as the first major culinary story of the New Year.

Why you ask? Because it's simple raison d'etre stands the test of time and those that possess limited intelligence such as myself can master its operation.

If your skull is as thick as say -- a crock-pot -- then you are on your way to slow cooking heaven.

The thing is, no comeback is ever complete without a little tweaking by wizards in the design and marketing departments. Crock- pots of the new millennium may work like they used to but their looks have improved.

New removable inserts have replaced one- piece models of the past and upscale models can even sport digital timers and such. Stainless steel models compliment even the trendiest of kitchens and allow for full time display on a countertop next to the stainless coffee maker, toaster and microwave.

Jealous yet? Ready to run to the nearest outlet and get one? Here's a word of warning from the wise. So many slow cookers flew off the shelves over the silly spending season that you may have to wait a week or two if you want to get a specific model. Variety can be limited as the very cool ones were snapped up like so much Snapple.

Never fear, you'll see them popping up at yard sales this summer as the fad subsides again.

In the meantime, if you are lucky enough to have one of these classic appliances, you will likely be experimenting with slow cookery for weeks and months to come.

Here is an easy and hearty recipe to start you on your journey that you can cook on a snowy day.

Boogie Woogie Beef

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup dry red wine or red grape juice
1 package onion soup mix
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
2 pounds lean stewing beef
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces baby carrots

Mix soup, wine or juice, and onion soup mix in crock-pot. Add thyme, beef, carrots, and mushrooms; stir to blend ingredients. Cook on high 4 to 5 hours or low for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve with white rice or buttered noodles, mashed potatoes or crusty bread.

Serves four to six.