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Instant Sous

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A slow cooker takes over chef duties

By Jennifer Cohen-Katz

As a mother of three fortunate enough to be at home after school for homework oversight and dinner prep, I set a high bar for myself. Surely as a nutritionist and graduate of culinary school I should serve up healthy, mouthwatering fare to rival any restaurant in town. Although I try desperately to attain some balance between mom duties and the chef I truly yearn to be, it can be a madhouse. 

After observing my nightly chaos, a dear and very organized friend asked me to come over for a glass of wine. “I want you to do three things” she told me. “Ok,” I responded, always eager to get tips from those better at problem-solving than me. 

“You’ve got to stop thinking of your kitchen as a five-star restaurant. Your family will not fire you if pizza shows up on the table every once in a while.” “Alright,” I relented, “No more three course dinners.” 

“Next turn off your cell phone at 3:30 p.m.” 

“Wow! I’m allowed to do that?” I asked. 

And finally she said, “Buy yourself a crock pot.” 

With that last command I looked up. “A crock pot?” I’ve had no formal culinary training for one of those things. 

“Yes, a crock pot.” 

So I headed to Williams Sonoma and picked an All-Clad Slow Cooker with an insert that I could use to sauté food before slow cooking. I loved the thought of having only one pot to clean. 

The slow cooker was just the help I needed, the sous chef in my small kitchen brigade. In the morning I hand over the chicken and veggies to my smart sous cooker. She works her magic and in the evening presents us with a lovely dinner. 

Another extra pair of hands in the kitchen is the Insta-pot, described as a smart, multi-use, programmable pressure cooker designed for those who live a fast-paced, healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle. Oh, that’s me. This kitchen helper is remarkably capable of assisting me with everything from soup to dessert—whatever I desire. 

For some assistance in collecting recipe ideas for these godsends take a look at cooking and technique classes at Williams Sonoma and guest chef classes at Secolari at The Mall in Columbia. Crossroads Apothecary & Teaching Kitchen offers cooking demos featuring food as medicine. You’re likely to find crock or instant pot cooking lessons through Howard County Recreation and Parks as well.


Mango Chicken Sweet Potato Bowl

See recipe


Carrot Cake Oatmeal

See recipe


Spiced Winter Squash Soup

See recipe

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