Birthdays, whiskey, joys of the crockpot

On the eve of my 41st birthday, I am celebrating, alone, by getting drunk and fat on whiskey, while watching the Olympics. Is that the worst or the best? I’m really not sure.

There’s a lot going on these days, a lot of life, death, disease and dealing. Evidenced by the above. That aside (or as the foundation), here’s what I made today, starting last night in the crockpot, and shared with my kids (husband is traveling). Notably, the youngest child, typically the pickier eater, loved it all; the threenager asserted her rights to reject dinner at her will. I stand by the deliciousness of this dish.

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Vegetable “ragu soup”

1 portobello mushroom cap, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bunch of lacinto kale, chopped
2 ears of fresh white corn, kernels cut from cobs
3 small, round zucchini-like summer squash
2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes, from my urban backyard garden
2 T tomato paste
6 cups-ish chicken broth or preferred stock
Small bunch of thyme, leaves stripped from woody stems
Hefty pinches of salt
Freshly ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. I set for 8 hours on high, overnight, and reset in the morning for another 7 hours on low.

Cheesy polenta

Follow ingredients on Bob’s Red Mill polenta/corn grits package (see below for instructions). For the cheese, I added a few tablespoons of freshly grated Parmesan plus 3/4 cup or so of grated Monterey Jack, a family favorite. Make it, share it, love it. My kids – rather, one of them – did.

6 cups of water (I used stock – way more flavorful)
Pinch of salt
2 cups of coarse corn meal or corn grits (also sometimes labeled polenta)
3 tablespoons – or more! – butter
1/2 cup – or more! – grated cheese

Bring water/stock to a boil with salt. Add cornmeal. Stir frequently (near constantly), to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan, cook burgeoning polenta for about a half hour until thick and inviting. Add butter and cheese, work into the polenta confidently but carefully. Refrigerate in a container or serve after letting polenta sit for 20 minutes or so, to firm up.

Your meal!

Add warm polenta to bowl; top with warm veg mixture. Enjoy. Super tasty.

(After the kids go to bed, make and consume whiskey-pear sidecar, after St George Distillery recipe. And perhaps follow up with straight single malt whiskey on the rocks.)

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