Thursday, March 25, 2010


Yesterday (in an act of time-crunch desperation) I cooked dinner in the crock pot. The resulting meal was pretty much fantastic and I couldn't have been more shocked! I have always had a love hate relationship with the old slow cooker and this tattered cookbook is a prefect reason why...

Published in 1975, Rival Crock Pot Cooking was the very first cookbook I ever used on a regular basis. I didn't use it because of any insane passion for crock pot cookery, but out of sheer financial desperation. I was teaching ballroom dance at the time and only made $150 per week. I had my own apartment and could barely afford my rent. Turning on the gas was not an option for me; if I had used the stove even once I wouldn't have been able to pay the bill because I didn't have any expendable income. Electric was included in my rent and I decided to get by cooking all my meals with a toaster, microwave and crock pot.
And then I met Leif.

I wooed him with stringy lemon chicken from my slow cooker and other trusted Rival recipes. If you look closely you can even see the address to Leif's apartment scratched on the cover of the book. I came across the book while I was cleaning out my cookbook cabinet and I realized just how special it was.
The desperation of those times seems so lovely to me now...adulthood and love were new and alive in my life in a new and exciting way. I could never have imagined how entangled my life would become with the boy who lived at 2518 N Farwell and how much cooking a crock pot dinner for him and our two children sixteen years later would mean to me. I have a treasure of a book and a treasure of a life.

By the way, I highly recommend you bust out your crock pot and make this:

French Vietnamese Bahn Mi Sandwiches with Mung Bean, Carrot, Cucumber, Cilantro, and jalapeno aioli.

For the Pork:

4# pork stew meat or boneless pork shoulder cut into 2" cubes
2T Peanut oil
3/4 C Fish Sauce
1 bunch cilantro
Zest of 2 Lemons
1/2 C packed brown sugar
3" piece ginger peeled and sliced
6 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno with seeds, halved

Heat the oil in a large skillet and brown the pork in batches until well browned on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and place in the slow cooker. Deglaze the pan with the fish sauce, scrape up the browned bits and transfer to the slow cooker with the meat.

Meanwhile puree the cilantro, lemon zest, sugar, ginger, garlic, and chile in a food processor until it becomes a paste. Add the mixture to the pork. Combine well, cover and cook on low setting for 6 hours.

For the Mayo:
3/4 C Mayo
3 garlic
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until smooth. I didn't wipe it out after processing the paste for the pork...I think it added some great flavor.

For the sandwich:
2 French Baguettes
Olive Oil
1 cut garlic clove
1 Cucumber, cut into match sticks
1 large carrot cut into match sticks
Mung bean sprouts
Daikon Radish cut into matchsticks (optional)
Scallions (optional)

Cut each baguette on the bias into 4 equal sections and cut nearly in half leaving a hinge. Drizzle with olive oil and grill or toast until golden. Rub the toasted bread with the cut garlic. Top with 1/2 C pork, desired veggies, and some jalapeno mayo.
Makes 8 Sandwiches


kswen said...

What a sweet little tidbit! Just out of curiosity, have you ever made the cheesecake?

Mel said...

Oh my no, Darlin'! I have a general aversion to baking and cannot remotely comprehend making cheesecake in a crock pot...oh gosh now I want to try it...okay I'm going to the store...

Nubia said...

There are sooo many little tidbits in here that I wish you would have told me last night!!!

First - you taught ballroom?! Huh? How do I not know this little secret about you? What did you teach? Do you still dance?

Second - it's absolutely precious that this book has Leif's apt. address scribbled on it! You should frame the cover (if that's a paper sleeve, I see). If it is, I can lend you an archival mist to spray on it so it neutralizes the acidity of the paper and prevents it from falling apart years later!).

Mel said...

And my love hate relationship with the crock pot continues...apparently I cannot make the cheesecake without some Rival cake bake pan cira 1970 and I don't have one.

Nubia-I taught and competed on the professional ballroom circuit for about a year before Leif whisked me away to Chicago. I taught all dances at an entry level, but competed in American Smooth: Viennese Waltz, Waltz, Fox Trot, and Tango. I also did a bit of theater arts. I didn't get too far into the whole thing because it was a brief part of my life. Do you watch So You Think You Can Dance...Jean Marc Genereux & France Mousseau used to stop by all the time. Funny!! Do you need photo evidence?

Nubia said...

the photo evidence is unbelievable. I would have paid you to teach me to look like that! Look at the power radiating from your legs...just pure passion/conviction. It's a beautiful picture.

It's so amazing to see where kids get part of their talents. I'm really just in awe as I look at this picture...stunning!!!!!!!!!!!

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