Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cooking in My Sleep

I love it when I've shown the Dinner Gods a thing or two about efficiency. Lord knows I love a good Twofer, but this Crock Pot idea I had blew.my.mind. And when it comes to dinner, it's hard to blow anyone's mind around here.

I've complained before about using my Crock Pot while I am away at work, so feel free to read that rant some other time. But I really wanted to make a soup in the Crock Pot this week and I couldn't figure out how to avoid making mush while I was away from the house. Do I telecommute that day - seemed a little far fetched to accommodate a dinner wish. Maybe I could have my neighbor come by and turn on the Crock Pot for me...

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks: Use the Crock Pot overnight while I slept! My husband was skeptical, but I knew it had to work. I went to bed at 10 PM, flicked it to the Low 8-hour setting, and woke up to a batch of delicious Split Pea Soup. I didn't even care that my toddler had woken up three times in a row that same night because I JUST MADE DINNER AND IT'S ONLY 6 AM, PEOPLE! 

Something as simple as using my Crock Pot while I slept gave me so much joy that when I woke up this morning I did a twirly dance in the kitchen before even having my first cup of coffee. It was only 6 AM and my night had already dramatically improved. I could sit with the kids on the couch and read books while the soup reheated on the stove. I could help with homework. But best of all, I could have a glass of wine and not run that proverbial marathon for one night this week.

I guess the only downside to cooking while sleeping is that your house will smell like whatever it is you have in your slow cooker and you have to do the prep work the night before. Not that I noticed. This morning we had a Split Pea Soup smell mingling with our morning breakfast. Maybe next week I'll have Carnitas co-habitating with my coffee. The possibilities are endless!

If this is the price I have to pay to not cook dinner after work on some nights, then sign me up.

((shaking fist angrily at the sky)) Take that Dinner Gods! You will not break me.

Whole Foods Simple Split Pea Soup (with modifications)

(16-oz) package dried green split peas, rinsed
1 ham hock
1 cup diced baby carrots
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 ribs celery plus leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups water
3 cups chicken broth

Layer ingredients in slow cooker in the order given, adding the broth last. Do not stir ingredients. Cover and cook on high 4—5 hours or on low 8—10 hours until peas are very soft and ham falls off the bone. I bought a ham steak at the store, diced it and threw it into the soup while it reheated. It's a very thick soup, so add some water to it as it reheats. It will thin it out and prevent it from burning while you reheat it.

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