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.