What a Crock!

My crappy house has no kitchen. OK, yeah. It had a kitchen when I bought it. This charming arrangement of smelly appliances and crusty cabinets:

Alive with bacteria, I killed it with my crowbar and buried it in a dumpster. Now, it sleeps with the fishes. Or rats, probably. Whatever.

So, anyway, my crappy house has no kitchen. For 2 ½ years I’ve cooked all of my meals on a hotplate. Or in a toaster oven. Or a microwave. I’ve washed my dishes in a plastic laundry sink. I’ve prepared food on a folding table. (Do you hear that sad violin music playing?) I’ve stored my dishes in a dilapidated IKEA cabinet (the dishes that aren’t in cardboard boxes in the basement). My pantry is a bookshelf in my bedroom. I keep my milk in… well, a beautiful new fridge, actually.  There are some things you just can’t skimp on.

After 2 ½ years of pasta, I am borderline malnourished. (And yet, fatter than I’ve ever been. How does that work?)  I need some meat! I finally decided to try using a crock pot.

Now, even when I had a kitchen, I was never very good at using it. I once tried a crock pot recipe for Ginger Thai Chicken. The result was a paste suitable for… perhaps an adhesive… caulk, maybe… Nothing edible. Still, people keep telling me how easy cooking in the crock pot is. Just throw the stuff in there and you’re done. I started thinking maybe my previous experience was a fluke. I started to believe these people. I can do this! So, I found a recipe online that I thought sounded great. Pineapple Teriyaki Chicken. Yum! Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. boneless chicken breast
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup of soy sauce

And that’s it! Just four ingredients. You just throw it all in the pot and cook it for 6 hours on low. How difficult could that be? Well, if you’re me, I guess that’s a stupid question.

I started out OK with the chicken. I cut it up into perfectly sized pieces and tossed it into the pot. And then I went rogue. I decided that pineapple chunks would be glorious in there, so I put in a 10 ounce can of chunks. But there wasn’t much juice in the can, so I poured an 8 ounce can of juice in there too. OK, so now I’m a little heavy on the juice. No problem. I put in ¾ of a cup of brown sugar in instead of  ½. Then I went ahead and put a cup of soy sauce in. The whole bottle was 10 ounces. I had only 2 ounces left, so I dumped that in too. Wait, did I say one cup of soy sauce? Uh oh. The recipe called for 1/3… OK, no problem. I’ll add in another can of pineapple juice. And some more sugar…

I don’t know what happened, but math was well beyond my comprehension for a while there.

Let me just say that it was edible, but not the yummy concoction I was hoping for. Not only were the ratios way more than slightly off, but the pineapple chunks were a mistake too.

I might try this again someday, but next time I will follow the recipe exactly. I’ve learned my lesson. Only experienced cooks are qualified to deviate from a recipe. Now I think I’ll go whip up a bowl of cereal for dinner…

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  • Missy

    I would imagine that the pineapple would soak up the soy sauce and make it salty. Is that what happened? You must try a crock pot turkey chili. You really can’t mess that up…I swear!

    • My Crappy House

      lol you know what happened… I’ll try the turkey chili, but I’m not as optimistic as I once was. I’m jaded now.

  • Scribbler

    I had to laugh. I have screwed up too. As an old, experienced very good cook, let me share two things: The less liquid the better in any kind of slow cooker or crock pot, and all flavors will intensify. That is why sometimes the proportions look “off” even to an experienced cook in the recipes developed for these appliances. Steam is what is actually doing the cooking, and the liquid forms from the slow-cooking process. So if you are trying to make a dish with a sauce or gravy, you will need a deceptively small amount of liquid.

    Also with meat, it is best to brown it before adding to the crockpot. I have both kinds of appliances, but my favorite for meat is the one that has an insert that allows you to brown the meat first in the same vessel before you add the other stuff and fugedaboudit.

    Hope this helps. I really get a kick out of your blog.


    • My Crappy House

      Wow, so I totally went off the rails with the liquid. I had probably triple what the recipe called for! And what’s funny is the chicken, in all of that liquid, actually tasted dry… Thanks for explaining the steam process. That totally makes sense! I thought extra liquid would mean more sauce for the rice, but it was so watery anyway, not the gravy-like sauce I was imagining. I wish I knew about the type of pot where you can brown the meat. Not having a stove, I shy away from that sort of thing. It would have been awesome to be able to do it all in the same pot! Thanks for the tips. I’m definitely not quitting yet

  • Mom

    I haven’t laughed this much in a while, I was crying so hard when I got to added more sugar and ” I don’t know what happened”, I couldn’t see. Then the plate of pineapples set me off again. Still LMAO…love mom

  • Margaret A. Johnson

    Next time you try a crock pot recipe and you want more of a gravy like sauce you can always add some cornstarch. Dissolve the cornstarch say a teaspoon in a small amount of cold water (a tablespoon or so) and add it to the crockpot. The sauce will thicken up depending on how much cornstarch you use. Kuddos to you for challenging yourself with the crock pot. You’ll get there eventually.

    • My Crappy House

      I actually had the cornstarch out, but there was so much liquid (due to my quadrupling the recipe by accident) that I didn’t bother trying to make gravy. It’s just as well – I didn’t know to mix it with cold water first, so I would have made a mess, I’m sure!

  • GG

    this made me lol – thanks for sharing! there will be mess-ups early on in the crockpot process, but eventually you will figure it out and you will be happy with the results – it really is a great tool esp. when you don’t have a stove!! Try taco soup, you also can’t mess this one up.

    • My Crappy House

      Thanks! I’m not giving up yet. I got some valuable feedback so I think my next go will be much more successful. Googling Taco soup…

  • My Crappy House

    Crock update:
    I cooked my 2nd recipe and I outdid myself! (Which isn’t actually saying anything at all, since my previous meal was about a 2 on a scale of 1-10.) I made pulled pork using a recipe from a friend and it came out pretty good! Send me an email (use the contact tab at the top of the page) if you’d like the recipe.

  • Kay M.

    Ok, just found your blog through HomeTalk. I suspect you will be a great help to me in renovations, so I will help you with recipes…
    Next time, follow the instructions. If you want big chunks of beautiful YELLOW pineapple in the recipe, wait until the end. Add them about 3-5 minutes before you serve it. Beautiful flavor, beautiful color. You might consider chunking up a gorgeous green bell pepper too, but put it in about 10 minutes before you serve to give it time to soften a little.

    • My Crappy House

      The barter system. I love it! Thanks for the tips. You were not the first to tell me the pineapples go in at the end – and that totally makes sense, now that I’ve tasted the alternative. Those were very salty pineapples… I will definitely be following the recipes from now on. At least until I get a little bit of experience to draw upon! Thanks for visiting

  • Natasha King

    Funny stuff! You are quite intelligent, at least according to the practice IQ tests I gave you in college…so this story seemed like one I would write… however I was fixated on the pretty plate. Where’d you get that?

  • Jayme S

    I’m not much of a crockpot cook either…I have found that if I just throw a whole chicken (not cut into pieces), a little salt and pepper,a onion cut up into quarters, and about a 1/4 cup water and put it on low for 8 hrs has been my one fall safe recipe for the crockpot. If the chicken is frozen, I don’t add water and cook it on high for 8 hrs. The onion becomes sweet and the chicken falls off the bone.

    • My Crappy House

      Thanks for the no frills recipe! I do tend to get myself into trouble when I’m trying to be fancy. I’m not a fan of onions, but I bet I could leave them out and put some Adobo in there or something. All I did was Adobo the chicken…

  • Maribeth Bastian

    I know this is an old post, but I’d thought I’d mention … Chicken thighs do so much better in the crockpot than breasts. The meat is more tender–it literally falls off the bone–and it’s a lot cheaper as well. I had to “learn” to like thighs, but if you add a lot of vegies, it helps!

    • My Crappy House

      I’m pretty sure I did use thighs because I know breast meat isn’t as moist. I ended up doing this recipe a second time and, while the proportions were better, it was more along the lines of soup. After Googling a bit, I discovered that most people get the same result – the picture they show with the recipe isn’t real. Well, it’s real, but not made from this recipe!

      Thanks for visiting

  • MJ

    U do this in crock-pot cooking and we are supposed to believe you can lay a floor….ROTFLMAO!!!

    But glad you wrote this, because your readers have helped me understand why my crock pot cooking leaves something to be desired. Thanks all you crock pot users who are not as crocked as crocked as our author….still LMAO!!! I needed it today, by front door install has been delayed another week, YET AGAIN! This I do not even try to do myself,

    • My Crappy House

      I know, right? But crocking is hard! I think I was already at a disadvantage using a crappy internet recipe though… I’ve made delicious pulled pork

  • Susan

    I don’t know why I didn’t see this post in September. The OG is slipping. I am not much of a DIY’er, as you know, but I kick ass in the kitchen. I use a Crock Pot very little, but also have a kick ass Pulled Pork recipe with only 3 ingredients. The Pork, Garlic Powder and Root Beer. Whatever BBQ sauce you want to use at the end brings you to 4 ingredients. Just ask. Like your Mom, I was laughing my ass off – – but not at you. Just at the blog. You can do it Vicki, I have faith in you and you having faith in yourself makes all you wish to tackle possible. LOL

    • My Crappy House

      That’s actually the only other recipe I’ve ever made. It was very good! I don’t remember using garlic powder. Just the pork, soda and bbq sauce. I actually didn’t think to use my crock pot all winter. That was dumb

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