When a Crock’s Not a Crock

Over the years I’ve had a few consulting firms as clients. Thus I’ve been exposed to a lot of theory about lost time and whatnot, which is why I can be so “efficiency” minded — even if I’m sometimes poor at practicing what I preach to myself.

But since Maggie came into our lives 11 months ago, efficiency has become a means of survival. She is a great kid for a work-from-home parent, nearly always happy and proficiently self-entertaining. Even so, sharing space with a baby consumes a few hours of each of my workdays.

Diaper changes, wardrobe changes, toy clean-ups, toy re-clean-ups, and rescuing her from every dangerous situation she can find — all of that pinches the minutes available for work. Nowadays the last thing I want to do at 5 p.m. is get off the computer so I can get on the stove. I don’t want to lose that hour.

That’s why the crock pot has become such a standard in our domestic repertoire. My mom gave my wife one for Christmas, and it’s made our culinary life easier to live. I love cooking (I’m the one who does most of the non-microwave food prep in the house), but on most days now I just want to not worry about it.

The crock pot gives me two huge conveniences:

  1. Cooking is actually faster. The food isn’t ready to eat until forever, but my role in compiling it is brief. Most slow-cooker recipes involve just cutting and measuring (and the latter is barely necessary), followed by dumping everything in the pot and pressing the power button.
  2. One crock-pot session gives us three or four meals’ worth of food. We can eat until at least Wednesday on Monday’s bounty. Two days of cooking can feed us for a week. We sometimes don’t have enough Pyrex containers to contain it all.

On cooking day I spend all afternoon hungry, because I can smell the food simmering for hours upon hours. I keep peeking at it to see if it looks as good as it smells. Then my wife loves walking in the house and smelling the brew.

We haven’t ventured far down this culinary road yet, and the short distance we have traveled has included just the usual stops, such as beef stew, pulled chicken and chicken soup that was supposed to be chicken stew.

I recently posted a request for crock-pot ideas on Facebook and received a generous portion of recipes from friends and family, ranging from pulled-porks to puddings to soufflés to casseroles to enough oatmeal to feed the cast of Oliver!

We will likely try it all, which should give me more time to write. Bring on the paper. Bring on the Pyrex.

Day 1

My wife Molly just walked out the door. She’s off to her first day at the office since our baby girl (our first) was born just over three months ago. That leaves me home alone with my daughter and my work, both of which will need oscillated attention until the end of Molly’s workday. This is a new experience for both of us (and for our baby Maggie, too, I suppose).

I am comfortable that I am prepared to the fullest — prepared to make just about every mistake possible and to appropriately adjust. It has started already.

I wanted oatmeal  for breakfast, so I got some cooking in the pot. This isn’t instant oatmeal — it’s a porridge recipe that combines rolled and steel-cut oats simmering for enough time for me to drink enough coffee on an empty stomach to give me digestive-tract problems for half the day. (Rationing is key.)

And, as I have done for nine years of working from home, I made one portion.  So I can eat today, but if I want oatmeal again tomorrow or Thursday or Friday, I’ll have Air Jordan Femme to cook more from scratch. I would have served myself better by preparing a big batch and refrigerating the leftovers.

(I used to know this. In my living-alone days I would  often make a quiche at the beginning of the week and reheat a piece for a quick breakfast for days afterward.)

Well, Day 1 and Lesson 1 is learned before Coffee 1 is fully drunk. (I rationed successfully.)

Lesson 2? I’ll need to learn to write in fragmented time segments. In crafting just these 342 words, I have had to change one wet diaper and have been alerted air jordan 4 to a messy one. And Maggie got tired of listening to the muffled Mozart of her playmat and demanded a more fun option. So here I sit, typing these last two paragraphs with one hand, while mi hija straddles my left thigh, kicking her legs and smiling at her newest favorite ditty, “Banana Boat Song.”

Daylight come and I work from home.