I am a good cook. I am not a great cook. I mix selected ingredients and create something edible. Something that tastes good. Good texture, good aroma, good. Not great. I have, occasionally created great things in my kitchen. There was once a pork and fennel dish that my boyfriend and I ate all of even though the recipe clearly said, serves four. The next week, with anticipation of repeated greatness, I cooked the dish again. That time, there were leftovers.
Notice above I said, “selected ingredients.” I did not put the word “carefully” in front of those two words. I do not carefully select. The recipe says fennel: I go to the grocery store and I read the labels on the shelves there. I find the thing that the grocery store calls fennel, and I must assume they are talking about the same thing as the cookbook. How could I do otherwise?
I like my crock-pot; it cooks the way I do. It doesn’t object to a jumble of poorly measured ingredients. It doesn’t mind when I substitute the little red potatoes for the big dirty tan ones because they save me the trouble of washing and chopping. It doesn’t ‘tsk tsk’ when I throw in conveniently small, pre-pealed carrots instead of the big ones with the frothy green tops that just get thrown away, because I live in a city and I don’t have a yard to responsibly ‘mulch’ in. It doesn’t mind that I don’t use the boneless chuck. I don’t like boneless chuck so I use the rib roast instead. (When I am at the store, I look for the meat with the word ‘rib’ in the name that looks like the right shape for what I am doing with it.)
The hours in the crock-pot erase my mistakes. It transforms my poor selections into first, a comforting aroma that fills the house, turning it into a home of the well-cared for. And later, when we just can’t wait anymore, we ladle out flavor into our bowls then spoon it into our mouths. And it is good. And good is good enough.