Gentlemen, time for another edition of “All Things Manly.” I missed a couple weeks due to spending most of my time engaging in manly behavior such as sharpening my knives, wearing flannel shirts, and not shaving my beard. Most of us are familiar with some basic cooking. Not necessarily in the kitchen, but more so on the grill. In fact, I feel pretty certain I can cook just about anything on a grill. Perhaps it’s the hypnotic lure of the fire or maybe the smell of cooking beast flesh over an open flame. We all love the grill. It’s a given. But I’m here to tell you there is another contraption that you should start to consider. The crockpot. Yes, that thing that was always in your mom’s kitchen when you were growing up but only got used for macaroni and cheese on Thanksgiving. Well men, it’s time to learn. Because diversifying your cooking talent is like a wide receiver that can catch and block. You make yourself more valuable. There are probably a lot of you out there that have never used a crockpot before and that’s fine. The good news is that it’s extremely easy to figure out. And well, there really isn’t any bad news. Most have three settings; high, low, and warm. That’s really all you need to know about how it operates. Because we’re men, we don’t want to waste time putting together an extensive recipe. I’d rather be watching The Incredible Hulk reruns instead of standing by the stove. So here’s a couple meals you can whip together to get you started.
Breakfast: Get some oatmeal for your whole grains. I don’t mean the crappy stuff in the packets. I’m talking about the old school oatmeal that comes in the cans and only costs a couple bucks. Measure out a week’s worth of servings and dump it in the crockpot. Then add milk (for your dairy) or water if you want. I always use water. I guess I’m like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the greatest movie ever produced (Pumping Iron) when he said, “Milk is for babies.” After you have your oatmeal and water together, start slicing up apples to get your daily fruit servings. How much you might ask? You’re a man, add as much as you want. Then start dumping in cinnamon and some local raw honey to taste. I suggest local raw honey because it hasn’t been pasteurized and still retains nutritional benefits. It also contains pollen from the region and will help you eliminate your allergies. Don’t believe me? Look it up. The only thing you have to do after that is turn it on “low” before you go to bed. When you wake up in the morning, you have breakfast ready for the entire week. Just put the leftovers in the fridge or leave it in the pot and warm it up whenever you’re hungry. I’ve personally made this meal several times, and I’ve also done it with black berries. I’m trying strawberries next. It takes care of your whole grains, dairy, and fruits first thing in the morning. I usually eat this with a couple fried eggs or deer sausage and about 8oz of V8 juice along with 20oz of water with lemon juice for flavor. Also, if you have a sweet tooth, you can pour that warm oatmeal over some ice cream. It’s just like a cobbler.
Lunch/Dinner: An easy recipe for lunch or dinner is to throw a chunk of meat in the pot and dump a bunch of vegetables on top of it. Typically what I do is get up about 15-20 minutes early on the mornings that I’m making dinner. However, feel free to put this recipe together the night before so all you have to do is cut it on in the morning before going to work. I drop in a beef or deer roast (it doesn’t have to be thawed) and then start cutting up onions and garlic on top. I add baby carrots, corn, green beans, and sometimes celery. You can add sliced baking potatoes, but I sometimes change it up and use sweet potatoes for a healthier meal. Then I fill the pot about ¼ of the way with water. The only thing you have to do after that is turn it on “low” and go to work. When you get home, dinner is waiting. The only thing that rivals walking through the kitchen door and smelling that roast is actually eating it. If you’re a single guy, this meal will last you for several days and maybe even the whole week. Even if you have a wife and kids in the house you’ll still be surprised as to how much you have left over. You really don’t even need to take the leftovers out of the pot after it’s cooked. I just leave it on the “warm” setting and eat off of it for a couple days. I live on a cattle farm in rural Virginia and I’m surrounded by an endless supply of deer. As a result, we never really run out of beast meat. But I know that most of you aren’t in this same situation and beef can be expensive and deer might not even be an option. But like Crocodile Dundee says, “No worries mate.” Just substitute chicken instead. Throw in some thighs, legs, or breasts. It’s cheaper than beef and almost as nutritionally dense as deer. This recipe will satisfy your daily meat and vegetable intake and it’s great for a post workout meal.
Many of you have a wife and kids at home. The crockpot is going to make your woman happy because you’re taking the initiative to fix healthy meals for the entire family. Women like to see us men making good diet decisions. If your wife is anything like mine, she’ll talk about how she wants you around for a long time. Plus, if you’re doing this a couple times a week, it gives her a break from cooking as well. Cooking with the crockpot is a win-win situation. It’s efficient, and cleanup is a breeze. Healthy recipes are abundant and preparation is as easy as an Oakland Raiders defense. It gives you a lot of room to add your own ingredients and create different meals without spending significant time in the kitchen. So go forth and eat like a man! There’s no need to thank me. Just buy me a beer sometime.