Gee Your Garage Smells Terrific

garage crock

So I recently mentioned that So-cal weather is ridiculously gorgeous.  This is true.  However, we are entering the two months (give or take) of the year where the heat up here in the foothills of Pasadena gets just a tad oppressive.  I’m not complaining (yet) but I do seek out some alternative food prep methods keep my kitchen from getting even hotter.

Here you see my crock pot simmering away on the shelf in the garage.  I threw some ribs in this little honey the other day but couldn’t stand the thought of the heat that would be gently permeating my personal space.  Enter: garage crock!

I also put my rice cooker out here if I use it on hot days.  Who wants a bunch of steam blasting around the kitchen when it’s 100 degrees outside?  Thanks, but no.

My family is used to these appliances sitting in the garage.  Sometimes one of my kids comes running inside with a “Mom!  The garage smells great!  What’s for dinner?”

Four Photos and a True Story

I swear I’m not making this up.

Once upon a time there was a five-year-old (give or take) crock pot.  One charming evening I went to open said crock pot from which I planned to serve my family a delicious and healthy meal only to discover (gasp!) that the handle on the lid had broken.

broken handle
Major bummer!  This is my handy-dandy-six-quart-progamable-and-still-fully-functioning-except-for-this-dang-handle crock pot!  It seemed such a shame to toss this handy and still fully functioning gadget just because of a little flaw like this.

“Call the manufacturer!” suggested Mike.

So I did.  It was easy to do as the phone number is actually printed on the side of the slow cooker.  I know.  Weird.

To my disbelief, after only a very short phone tree, a real live, uh, what are they called?  Oh yes: customer service representative answered the phone.  The friendly rep stated, repeatedly “I am so sorry that this happened to you!”  Seriously.  The rep said this so many times that I actually told her that she needn’t be so concerned.  Last time I checked, a broken crock pot handle is not grounds for such heart-felt sorrow.
“I’m gonna make it.”  I told her.  “Really.  It’s true.  All I want to know is if I can get a new handle to screw back onto the lid.”

“Oh my,” she replied, “I couldn’t ask you to do that!” (Cannot stress enough how distraught this poor woman sounded.)  “I think we can send you a brand new lid.  May I place you on hold while I check?”

Eleven seconds pass.  She’s back.   “I’m so sorry,” replied the rep, “But we’ve discontinued that model of crock pot.”  Gasp again (her, not me.)  “And so,” continued the rep “if you’ll please read me the model number on the bottom I’ll be happy to send you a brand new crock pot at no cost to you.”

“What the what?”  Am I on candid camera?  Is it 1952?  Have I been drinking but I don’t recall? (not that something like that has ever happened before.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I kid you not.  I swear the facts described in this vignette are true.  Rival sent me a new crock pot for free and it arrived three days post phone conversation.

new arrival

I unpacked my new cooker so we could check out the newest addition to my gadget family.

Tah-dah!

new pot

You may recall that the title of my post is “Four Photos…”  What else could I possibly photograph?  Would you believe…

punch line

The new lid does fit the old pot.  Just has a fancy new model number.

Savory Crock Pot Ribs

crockpot ribs

Well you had to know this was coming.  I mean come on.  What kind of winter menu doesn’t include at least a few crock pot recipes?  Certainly not a menu from a born and bred Midwesterner!

I actually have two crock pots, thankyouverymuch.  One is a 4 quart (pictured here) and the other is about twice the size.  Sometimes I use them both at the same time and I don’t even have to defend myself because that is perfectly OK.

Crock pots/slow cookers have a reputation as being rather unsophisticated.  To this notion I say “pish-posh!”  Actually these gadgets are the hippest cooking tool in town as they allow on-the-go meal planners to prep in advance, walk away for many hours and then come back to a delicious meal and a kitchen that smells like heaven.  Cutting edge, baby.  That’s me.

One of my fave blogs is Crockpot 365 (featured along the sidebar to your right.)  Stephanie Odea has come a long way (I remember when her blog was ad. free) and business endeavors.  She totally cracks me up and tell me this: How can you not appreciate someone with an “unusual obsession with her crockpot but is OK with that?”

I like Stephanie’s recipes because she uses normal ingredients and always gives her family’s (and often friends’) honest verdicts of whatever she “crocked.”  Stephanie is also a believer in substituting or simply leaving out ingredients that she doesn’t have on hand (Amen sista!)

I do step away from some of the “not quite food” items that Crockpot 365 recipes list at times (condensed soups, soda, sometimes sauces) but as Stephanie would approve, I simply substitute or delete completely and happily get on with my life.

Today I am sharing one of my pork ribs recipes (not from Crockpot 365.)  I really should have called this recipe “This One Time” because I don’t really use a single recipe when I make ribs in the crock pot.  We like ours flavored with something sweet (honey, brown sugar) something tangy (balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, orange juice) and something salty (soy sauce, salt)  Feel free to put on your “Stephanie” and substitute away.  You can also check out Crockpot 365 for more delicious crocky fun.

AND… I’ll be Michelle-izing one Stephanie’s posts for my Feb. 26  Hometown Pasadena Mangiamo Post.  It’ll be tangy.  It’ll be easy.  It’ll be yum-ola.

But for now, I give you…

“This Time” Slow Cooker Ribs

Ingredients: 2 lbs. baby back pork short ribs, 3 garlic cloves, 1/4 chopped onion, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce, 1/3 cup honey, few dashes pepper, sliced oranges on top.

Directions: mix liquids (including honey) and drizzle over meat.  Add rest of ingredients placing the oranges last on top.  The liquid didn’t cover all the meat, so part way through I flipped the ribs over.  Not necessary; just tried it.  Cook in a 4 quart crock pot on low for 4-6 hours or until done.  Serve with rice which is perfect for the extra broth.  Yum!

Note: I don’t always use oranges, but my mom’s tree is still producing prolifically so I pretty much don’t make anything around her without them these days…