[Post I'm mulling: Loughner: Schizophrenia or Terrorist at Everyone Needs Therapy]
When I first married the Rebbetzin, I was a passable cook; my portfolio included basic chicken and beef, and a few sides and desserts. I even specialized in a homemade salsa. But all of that changed in the shul rabbinate; the frenzied and unpredictable schedule made cooking, and knowing whether I would be able to eat what I cooked, pretty much impossible.
Enter the kollel, and although I still work long hours – longer, actually, in some ways – the schedule is far more predictable. So I’m back in the cooking business, one day per week.
Why do I want to get back in?
• The Rebbetzin does enough for me, surely I can do something in return.
• I like to try unique tastes, but asking the Rebbetzin to cater to that would be unfair.
• It's a form of chesed for my family; certainly, I could just purchase ready-made food, but as Rav noted (Bava Metzia 86b) regarding Avraham, chesed is best when the hard work is performed personally.
• Tehillim 128:2 – יגיע כפיך כי תאכל אשריך וטוב לך – When you eat the work of your hands, you are fortunate and it is good for you.
The only catch is that I still have very little time: I have a one-hour window from the time my alarm goes off in the morning until the Daf starts, and I’m out from Daf until dinner, so all of the cooking must take place in that rather packed hour. Problem.
Solution: Slow-cooking, aka crockpot cooking. As long as the ingredients are simple, and the prep time is low, I can put it all together and get the food going, and then come back at dinnertime to turn it off and serve.
So far, I’ve tried the following:
• Chicken, apricot jam and salsa – Very good.
• Chicken, VH pad thai sauce – Eh.
• Chick peas (aka garbanzo beans), rice, various spices, soy sauce, horeseradish, a hot pepper, onion, carrot and a sweet potato - Very enterprising. Not very good.
• Chicken, tomato sauce, two quartered tomatoes, an orange pepper, a halved onion. This is in the crockpot as we speak.
So I’m looking for more recipes to try. I’ve bought a bunch of sauces to try, but I can go beyond that if the ingredients are few. I’m chicken-based, because it’s inexpensive and it’s a good anchor for a meal, and I like to avoid starches that stick to the pot, but I’d try vegetarian dishes as well. Please send your recipes my way!
[And while we're on the topic, Rafi at Life in Israel has a post asking Will cholent get people to go to shul?, reminding me that I did have one opportunity to cook over the years - my annual also-ran entry in our shul chulent contest.]