We've been trying to limit dining out for a long time. At first, it was for health reasons. Cooking at home is obviously healthier than going out to eat for the most part. At first, it was a max of three meals out per week. Then, the pandemic hit, and we eliminated dining out (and takeout) altogether for the first six months or so. We made low-budget, wallet-friendly meals, leaning into black beans, Ramen, and breakfast protein, like eggs. It was actually quite fun to experiment with both recipes and ways to eat healthy while saving money!
Once we felt like we could spend a little cash, we got takeout about twice a month. It was always a treat, especially our favorite, Pho, but restaurant meals left me feeling heavy and sluggish after all of the clean eating (yes, I know Ramen isn't clean eating. It's merely cost effective). So, we embraced our crock pot for easy meals that made us feel great.
No, this isn't going to be one of those annoying recipe posts where I tell you the story of how I made my husband soooo happy with a vegan kale soup (though I love vegan food, kale, and soup) and changed his mind after years of being a carnivore. Instead, I'm reflecting on the comfort of the home cooked meal, and specifically, the kind where I can go about my day, write my cute butt off, and take a long bike ride without worrying that the house is going to burn down.
John's grandma gave him our crock pot. To our knowledge, it's at least 10 or 15 years old. Maybe older. And it's still in perfect working condition, like an old car or a carefully maintained grand piano. I love being able throw some stuff into it in the morning and walk back in the door to a home filled with the savory or sweet scents of herbs and vegetables.
I've always had a hard time accepting help. I'm a pretty independent and stubborn woman. We recently bought a little iRobot vacuum/mopping device to help me shave a few minutes off of keeping the dust situation in the condo in check. I've pulled countless muscles lifting speakers at gigs, refusing to let the closest beefy dude (who offered to do it), touch them. The crock pot is kind of a weird way in which I help myself, and let myself off the hook a little bit. Chop, toss, eat whenever. It's awesome, frankly.
I know some of this may seem trivial, but it's really not. I'm headed back to gigging on top of teaching and streaming and trying to write my second book, and honestly, the domestic pressure of womanhood isn't easily undone. I'm a flaming feminist. I will fight anyone online or in public about issues regarding female autonomy and respect and empowerment, but there is a teeny tiny piece of my brain that justifies leaving the daily editing behind to cook a nice dinner or clean the bedsheets. I often fall behind on my work because of it.
The crock pot and our little iRobot take a piece of the guilt away. All I need is a self-folding dryer, now.
Also, I want to say that we should be supporting our local restaurants, more than ever, as Chicago continues getting vaccinated. They have a lot of damage to recover from, plus, I need a night or two away from the kitchen each week. Saigon Pho is gonna get sick of me. ;)
First off, what are your favorite local restaurants (wherever you're reading from)?
Secondly, (Okay, I'm gonna do it...) do you have a favorite crock pot recipe? I'm doing this quinoa and veggie one today. I'll add some pre-marinated tofu later. There's a lot of beauty in eating something you put together.
Until tomorrow, stay well, stay safe, stay kind, and stay well-nourished.