Because I had so much homework to do today in preparation for the start of the semester tomorrow, I wanted a crockpot recipe for dinner. I found a great recipe on Pinterest for Chicken Fajitas in the crockpot, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of that before. The original recipe can be found on Eat At Home – http://eatathomecooks.com/2012/12/easy-crockpot-chicken-fajitas.html. I made a couple of small changes – I added a can of black beans, and I used McCormick low sodium chicken taco seasoning.
When I pulled it out of the crockpot, I realized that we were out of taco shells (that’s me and my meal-planning-preparedness, for you), so we ended up putting it on top of tortilla chips. And of course, topping it with excessive amounts of shredded sharp cheddar, salsa, and that amazing substance which is known as sour cream. NOMNOMNOM. I would highly recommend this for a busy day when you know you’ll just need to come home and dig into something hearty and tasty. J’s only comment was that next time, he wants jalapenos in his portion. Which I think are gross and way too spicy, so next time he can get that nasty jalapeno juice all over his own hands and on his own plate. Other than that, he chowed down two huge plates of it and complimented my dinner prowess repeatedly. Another win for the crockpot!
I have a very close relationship with my crockpot. Two crockpots, actually. J’s grandfather, who passed away a couple of months ago, was visiting us this past summer and I made chicken and gravy in the crockpot to go over homemade biscuits. My crockpot didn’t have a timer, an automatic on/off, a stirrer, or anything else fancy. I ran late coming home one night, and the gravy ended up slightly burnt. Nothing that a good stir with a little milk didn’t fix, but Grandpa got it in his head that I needed a bigger, better, fancier crockpot. So he gave us some money, with strict instructions for me to go find myself the best crockpot I could find. He also told me to keep the first crockpot on standby, because eventually, I’m going to want two at a time.
The next time Grandpa visited – the week before he passed away – I dug out my fancy new crockpot for homemade meatballs. The new crockpot has a ‘keep warm’ setting, an on/off timer, an automatic stirrer, and little latches on the lid. Its quite the thing of beauty. Grandpa raved about the meatballs, and was just pleased as punch that he got me a new, fancy gadget.
Grandpa was my favorite person to cook for. Frequently, as we’d be sitting over dinner, he’d lean over and in a fake stage whisper, tell me that I was a much better cook than J’s mother (who openly admits that she hates cooking, and was very relieved when J married a gal who LIKES to tackle the holiday dinners). When he visited, we’d sit in the living room together while I flipped through my Food Network magazine, and he’d tell me about the different ways his wife, who passed away shortly after I met J, would make green beans or potatoes. Once we decided we wanted to make pralines. Grandpa sat at the kitchen table and looked on, giving me tips and words of encouragement, as I fought with a candy thermometer and tried to get sugar on wax paper without painting my kitchen with it. The pralines didn’t turn out very well, but Grandpa gave me a smile and a pat on the arm and ate them anyway.
His last visit to us was a few weeks before Thanksgiving, and we sat and planned the holiday meal together, making sure to work his special requests into the menu. Grandpa didn’t make it to that meal, and Thanksgiving was a somber occasion at our house. But every time I break out my crockpot, which is often, I think of him and smile. And as I pull whatever delicious dish I’ve whipped up out of that crockpot and give a plate of it to his grandson, I think of what kind of compliment or critique Grandpa would be able to give me. I miss him very much. But every time I cook, I know he’s in the kitchen with me, telling me, again, his favorite way to make green beans.