Just like my second attempt at an angel food cake, my second attempt at crockpot cooking was a wretched failure. And for the same reason too: overconfidence. The third time I made angel food cake I stopped trying to improvise as if I knew what I was doing and followed the dang recipe and it turned out just fine (although I really ought to use pastry flour to get the full angel food experience). So I'll have to find some real crockpot recipes if I want to keep using this thing. To tell the truth, though, I'm not sure why I'd want to. It's about the same as putting a medium-sized pot on the stove, but with less control over the temperature. It was forgetting that and imagining that it had some slow-cooking magic that caused my problems.
What I tried to make was a futher mutation of the Korean short ribs recipe I modifed last month. I used some random scraps of lousy cuts of pork and threw in a bunch of vegetables and seasonings, as I said up top, it didn't work out so well.
First thing, while ox tail or short ribs can stand up to four hours of simmering, most meat can't. Best to keep things under the boiling point so the meat doesn't dry up and get tough. Also, if you're going to slow-cook it's a darn shame not to include some bones in the pot to cook out their gelatin.
I had a bit of trouble with the vegetables, too. Onions and peppers cook down, of course, and if the liquid base wasn't soy sauce, tomatoes work work well too over the long run. Dried shiitake mushrooms held up quite well. Thick cut carrots got an interestingly yam-esque texture after a while. My big mistake was adding scallions and broccolini. Even a half hour was too much for them and they fell apart.
But, really, and kind of surprisingly, the real problem was the cooking liquid. An strongly-flavored high-quality soy sauce, plus sugar, garlic, ginger and star anise made for an intense sauce that soaked into every other flavor in the dish. It's a pretty good flavor, but way too much of it. I'm thinking of straining out all of the overcooked solids, diluting it down and keeping it around as a marinade. But, as is, it's inedible. Not very photogenic either so you'll just to have to imagine a pile of limp overcooked vegetables stained black with soy.
Oh, and speaking of failure, I took another look at some of those oddly large numbers in my blogiversary post. I haven't actually got seventy-some regular readers. What I have are seventy-some monthly visits from regular readers. And since regular readers probably visit at least once a week, that number should be divided by at least four. I think the dozen subscribers are a legitimate count, though, so let's say two dozen readers. I suppose that's not too bad considering my lack of a real gimmick for this thing.