Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Kitchen Appliance That Will Make You a Better Writer (If You're a Man. And Married.)

I want to share a wonderful addition to the lives of Wife and myself. It has strengthened our marriage, brought joy to our lives, and made us whole. The changes have been manifold. This new member of the family has readjusted our priorities in life, and we are happier than I could have never imagined.

I speak, of course, of our crock pot, the greatest culinary invention of all time. (What, were you expecting a baby? Like I'd ever blog about that. Or my impotence.)

As a holiday gift from the in-laws, the crock pot (now dubbed a "slow cooker," following the decision of a drunken Madison Avenue marketing executive), our newest baby sat unused for about a month. Until, against all odds, against all of the better instincts in me, I broke it in. And I made the mother of all crock pot dishes: a pot roast.

What a crock

And it turned out, well, better than I could have hoped for. (I'm not kidding -- it tasted great. Word. I mean, think of those slow roasted juices...mmmm...gravy...juices...bodily fluids...juices...)

The pot roast was easily the best thing I have ever cooked, which, granted, ranks right up there with my hitting the toilet basin once in a while. But I made a decent pork stew a few days later, and an edible chicken dish.

We have a cookbook called "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker," conjuring images of a beige howitzer shell with cheezy stencil floral patterns. However, these days crock pot cooking is hip. Wife insists on calling it a "slow cooker" because of the awful connotation of "crock pot," not the least of which is the association with its 1970s heyday in 1970s. You know, disco, bell bottoms, crock pots, and my massive pre-teen Afro.

This addition of slow-cooking greatness has made me a better writer. I wish I had discovered its salubrious greatness years ago. (Here is where my "real experience" morphs into the condescending blather one feels uncontrollable urge to unleash on the world after turning 40.)

If you are a young and single male, and have pretensions of literary achievement, as I once did, listen closely. There will be a day when you will discover your beloved, and decide to make a life together. You will find that after a few years, you have developed a heretofore unknown talent of messing things up. Suddenly, your housekeeping skills are less than inadequate, while your choices in life are suspect at best, particularly your decisions on hygiene, leisure pursuits, and, most of all, what you choose to wear when leaving the sancutary of home. Worse, you are informed that you need a hearing aid, though you can hear everybody else just fine.

This happens because after a time, your spouse or live-in thinks its OK to get on your case because informing you that it's a bad idea to wash her colors in hot water or to surf won't lead to a separation.

Now, if this sounds like a sexist caricature of an henpecking, ball-n-chain wife, you are 100 percent correct and win a new dining room set from Broyhill. There's no excuse for perpetuating it.

However, If you think that this is an indictment of Wife, you are 100 percent wrong, because, when it's all said and done, I do screw up and deserve any tongue lashing she dishes out, even though she is usually gentle, sweet, and understanding of my delicate nature.

In any case, these conditions lead to an ironclad rule of marriage, enshrined in this space previously, and will be henceforth known as Bookfraud's First Rule of Betrothal: A husband's main role in any marriage is to be a source of constant disappointment to his wife.

This is a vital issue to me as a writer, lest you think I am dishing out trivial bitching in my usual trivial bitchy manner. Since my marriage, I have been forced to take on tasks I would not have as a bachelor: clean the toilet more than once every two months, that type of thing. For all the housework, cooking, paying bills, and such (and we don't even have children), subtracts from the time you can write. Being over 40 while possessing a full-time job and some semblance of a social life, free time to write is, like Gollum's attachment to a certain piece of jewelry, my precious.

It is now my duty to make half the meals in this house, which as a bachelor, I satisfied by answering that age old question, "Which Ragu tonight?" I have learned many things about cuisine since marriage, such as beer does not count as an appetizer, main course, or desert.

That's where the crock pot comes in. Any culinary buffoon like myself can make a decent dinner in it. The best part is that it is hardly any work at all: chop up some onions and carrots, add some spices, take some cheap-ass cut of beef, throw it in the crock pot, and you're done. You don't have to watch over it, get second-degree burns from hot oil (happened to me, yay!), or spend obscene amounts of money on third-rate Chinese takeout. You can literally cook and write at the same time.


Get yourself a crock pot NOW. Learn how to use it, delight your partner, and free yourself from the bonds of housework. It will strengthen your relationship without the extra work of having a child, and your gal will think you sexier and stronger for it. Which is no reflection on my marriage, of course.