Low and Slow, That is the Tempo

I don’t remember when I got my first crockpot.  I feel like it’s one of those things people buy for kids in their mid-20’s ‘cause they know you can’t cook.  So they just give you what equates to an earthen-ware hot tub for your food to soak in while you sleep all day.  Plus, most come with fancy timers so you have less chance of burning down your apartment complex or that run-down rental house.  Because you know, it would be a shame to lose your snowboard, Playstation, and collection of exotic beer bottles, “Oooh! Red Stripe!  Fosters!  I’m so cultured.”  Once I had my slow cooker, for years I would just make cheese dip and meatballs in BBQ sauce without thinking about much else.  I stopped doing that when every potluck I went to had like 6 crockpots full of the same cheese dips and meatballs.  Sometimes someone got fancy and made chili…showoffs.  All that got me thinking, what else can I do with this oval-shaped oddity?   Over time, I experimented here, messed up there, and finally dialed in my use of the slow cooker and to be honest, I am soooo glad I took the time.  That’s why I was happy when my mother in law sent me over this sweet and sour spareribs recipe all the way from their home in Hawai’i.  My in-laws are cool like that.  It’s my first time trying this, so fingers crossed I don’t screw it up!  Come to think of it, I think I said something similar the day my kids were born…OK! Let’s cook!        

Sweet to Meat You

Like I said, it’s my first go-round with this recipe but it looks simple enough.  Measure this, pour that, add stuff, wait, add more stuff, wait, and eat.  Cooking is truly magic when you put it like that, right? 

  • 3lbs pork spareribs cut into serving size pieces
  • ½ cup shoyu
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 5 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch to thicken
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 small daikon radish chunked (optional)
  • 1 8.25 ounce pineapple chunks, juice drained

Combine all ingredients, except for optional daikon and pineapple in a 5 to 6 quart slow cooker and cook on low heat for 5-6 hours.  Add daikon and stir into sauce.  Top with pineapple. Cook for another 1 to 2 hours on low heat.  Leave it in the pot and serve with hot rice.  This will feed about 6 people or like 2 hungry islanders.

 Veggie-Tables

Since this wasn’t something I’d done before, it took me some thought about the right side dish.  In the end I went with a stir fried veggie since I have the meat and starch already.  Plus I wanted to something savory to balance out the sweet and sour flavor of the ribs.  Adding Chinese 5 spice in the mix kind of sends the dish in an unexpected direction and adds an element of variety while staying within the overall theme.  Damn it, that sounded very foodie…crap I hate when I do that.  I eat pancakes for dinner and ramen noodle for breakfast from time to time.  I’m nobody’s foodie.  I just like to cook and drink.

  • ½ Eggplant, cut in half then sliced
  • ½ zucchini, cut in half then sliced
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Ponzu (shoyu works if you can’t find Ponzu)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt, white pepper, Chinese 5 spice

Place them cut veggies in a medium bowl, pour in oil, and stir to coat oil over the vegetables.  Next, add in the salt, white pepper and Chinese 5 spice and stir it again to coat the spices over the veggies.  Heat a wok or frying pan to high heat, toss in them veggies, oil and all, and stirring constantly, cook until the veggies are tender.  About 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and place on a medium plate and drizzle with Ponzu.

Making this one made me realize how neat it is to use my crock pot so I’m glad this recipe was passed my way.  Another thing that happens with crock pot cooking is that as the food cooks slowly, it fills the house with great aromas.  For me, it takes me back to those childhood days where my grandpa would cook for us. The way his home would fill our senses with the air of good things to come felt like a warm hug.  To me, it felt like love.  Hope my kids feel the same.  Not only because I want them to know they are forever loved to the moon and back, but I’m legally obligated to feed them.  I may as well cook something that stink so good.  If you decide to try making this, I hope you have fun.  Just hang loose, take your time, and just like me, it may not turn out perfect the first time.   Stay cool, and I catch you later.

One last thing!  If you ever want to learn about life in Hawai’i and other cool travel stuff, go visit my mother in law at www.mariloutrias.com where you can learn all kinds of groovy stuff.  Like, how the guava leaf can be used to improve our health and even help thicken your hair!  Remind me never to rub it on my back…again.

Let’s all get in the hot tub!

Chunky!

More friends in the hot tub!

Ow! Too hot in the hot tub! Gonna make me sweat!

Just love the colorful bounty of nature.

Then I chop it up and cook it.

Chicken  soup in the background for my ill daughter.

Beer in the background to help cope with the ill daughter.

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