Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken Curry

Lately I've logged a little time thinking about mothers and food. (Warning: Politically incorrect comments to ensue.) Ever since marriage and motherhood, I've given some thought to this topic, but this spring when our ducks birthed babies, I started thinking about it a lot more. Those ducks knew their mission. They snuggled the babies; they led the babies to water; they taught the babies to eat and drink; and they shielded the babies from any perceived dangers. It was a truly beautiful thing to watch if you want to know. And I realized that almost all mammals and birds do this. The mothers are wired to know that one of their main purposes in life is to teach their children to eat. In some species, the fathers help out. But in most (if not all) species, the mothers are either the sole feeders or are there sharing the duty. If not, the babies die. The end. 

It kind of got me thinking about us human mothers (and, yes, the fathers too because we're definitely one of those species that can share the load, but since I'm a mother, I thought more about them). Our babies won't quite die. At least not immediately. First they'll raid the snack drawer, right.

Now let me say before I go any further, that I have made lots and lots and did I mention LOTS of mistakes in teaching my children to eat. My son, as you know if you follow this blog at all, is the world's pickiest eater and I--as his pushover mother--am at least partly to blame for this. My other children eat okay (and Mark is very very very slowly kind of sort of some days improving), but I still feel terrible every time I read some kind of natural mothering blog or a book about feeding children or hear a comment about how so and so made a kale and egg and squash rice bowl that their kids just inhaled. Um, yeah.

But I do--even in my sometimes misguided, sometimes error-filled way--try to feed my kids. Usually with healthy, homemade foods.

However, I also recognize that this is not always easy to do. Especially in the American, mid-western culture in which I live. There's junk food everywhere. People are busy. Not everybody loves to cook. Food costs money. Food takes time. And in the summer, cooking food will heat up your kitchen.

I've tried to address several of these topics on this blog from time to time, especially as I continue to try to do a better job myself with the feeding/teaching of my own young.

But one area has been woefully underexplored: The Crock Pot. This summer, I hope to rectify that a bit. Because the crock pot deserves more space than it's gotten in a blog about food, cheapskatery, and people without all the time in the world.

Also, it's rising up again in popularity. As well it ought. It's a quick solution for busy and/or working mothers/fathers the country over. It's a way to have dinner and soccer night. It's a way to not have to slave over the hot stove all evening (yup, it's summer). It's a solution, people. And we should welcome it. 

Now there are--as I see it--a few types of crock pot recipes.

1. One is a type where you still have to spend 30 minutes prepping and cooking your stuff before it goes into the crock. This could still be useful if you have some time in the morning, but won't at night, but for an at-home mom like me, it seems a little pointless since I could just prep that meal in the evening (unless it needs to sit and simmer and be amazing, but even then I don't consider it a time-saver per se). These are, it seems to me, a new thing--a response to the rising popularity of the crock as people adapt their normal recipes to a slow cooker.

2. And then there's the ubiquitous can of whatever soup crock pot recipe. Meat + cream of whatever soup + potatoes. I think this can be useful in a pinch, but I also think it's what put the crock pot out of style in the first place.

3. Then there's the "cook 2 hours" crock pot recipe. To me, these are the least helpful (though again if ultra-tasty, maybe worth it). I mean, you can't come home to it; you can't get it over with in the morning. But it might be helpful if you have some piano lessons to attend to in the afternoon.

4. Finally there's the 5-minute, whole food, let-it-sit-however-long-and-it-tastes-good crock pot recipe. This, people, this is what I'm talking about. These recipes are AWESOME. And I hope to get you more of them this summer.

Today--if you've managed to make it this far in this post, I present to you a delicious one. Five minutes of your day and dinner is served. (Although I do recommend a pot of rice thereby, which will take another 15 minutes.) This was a delicious curry that wasn't too spicy/crazy. Kip liked it even though he doesn't usually like curry recipes. And I loved it and I like curry recipes. So it's a good crowd pleaser curry. And have I mentioned it takes 5 minutes. Now, my friends, now you can be a proud mother duck.

Crock Pot Chicken Curry
adapted from The Lemon Bowl
Serves 4-6 (if over rice)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 4-8 hours
Cost: $5.75-6.00 (without peas)
chicken: 4.00, coconut milk: .50, chicken stock: .25, tomato sauce: 1.00,

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (mine were frozen)
good sprinkle onion powder or 1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 C coconut milk (we used the kind from the can)
1/2 C chicken stock
15 oz can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne (we used just a dash 'cause we're wimpy)
1 C peas (optional and, yes, I skipped it, but I thought it would have been awesome)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
cilantro for garnish

In bottom of crock pot, stir, coconut milk, chicken stock, tomato sauce, curry, salt, and cayenne.

Add chicken and turn it a time or two so it's coated in the sauce.

Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low (we did the high option).

Just before serving, stir in peas and lemon juice and heat through.

Serve with cilantro if it's your thing (it's my thing, but definitely not Kip's).


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