By Lisa

8:15 AM. Put 2 lbs beef, marinated overnight in onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, fresh thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves, salt in slow cooker. Add carrots, one can plum tomatoes, 1 cup reconstituted dried mushrooms & their soaking water; enough good red wine to cover. Set cooker to “HIGH” for one hour. Shower.

9:15 AM. Reset cooker to “LOW”.  Pray the new gadget does what it’s supposed to.  Read novel I will be tutoring from later. Stew looks, well, sort of raw. Worry that i will have a pile of tough, uncooked meat at 7 PM tonight, two starving kids, and no dinner options besides cold cereal…I can hear the screaming already.

10:00 AM-12:30 PM Work: catch up on month old emails; write 2 letters of recommendations, schedule interview, prep novel for meeting later. The cooker makes slow, whooshing noises. It must be doing something, right?

1:00 PM Minimum day school pickup. Stew is actually simmering. Meat appears to be changing color.

1:15 PM Home. Change school uniforms for sports uniforms. Macaroni and cheese, milk, kiwis for lunch.  Ella does some homework. “What’s that?” “A slow-cooker.” “What does it do?” “Cook dinner when I’m not home.” They shrug. They are mostly unimpressed. “What are we having?” “Dinner.”

1:50 PM Drive Ella to basketball practice. Finn comes along for the ride.

2:00 PM Back home. House is filled with actual good-cooking smells.   Garlic, onions, stewed tomatoes. Homework for Finn. Boil potatoes to mash later. Help Finn with homework. Set counter for dinner.

2:50 PM Stew is looking cooked. Dinner is appearing in the range of possibility. Basketball pickup.

3:10 PM Back home. Ella changes basketball uniform for soccer gear. Finishes homework.   The kitchen is full of sun. The cooker is full of something looking surprisingly like dinner.

3:45PM Drive Finn to soccer practice.Ella comes along for the ride. Decides to hang at field with her friends before practice. We stay at field.

4:30 PM Ella is hungry. We buy her a quesadilla from Elisabeth’s Taco truck. It’s delicious.

5:00 PM Ella’s practice begins.

5:00 PM Finn’s practice ends.  He eats the other half of the quesadilla.   I assume the cooker is still working.

5:15 PM Bring Finn to friend’s house where I am coaching his older brother for Academic Decathalon in literature. I hear sirens.  I hope the house has not burned down?

6:15 PMFinish tutoring.

6:30 PM Pick up Ella from field.

6:40 PM Home. Stew is done. Add milk and butter to the potatoes, mash over medium heat. I serve the kids. I am too happily surprised to do anything but pour myself a glass of wine and belly up to the kitchen counter bar. In fact, there is no mess, nothing, to clean up . Just one big pot of warm, aromatic stew sitting on my counter like a nice butler, just waiting to help me.  We chat while the kids eat.

7:15 PM Bath.

7:45 PM Bed.

8:15 PM Kory and I eat in peace. Wine, warm stew.