I don't know what it is.* Everyone else in the entire world seems to be able to use crockpots to make super easy, super yummy dinners while they work.
I can use crockpots to make disgusting disasters that make the whole house smell like burning.
Sure, sometimes I meet with success in a crockpot venture; I've made tasty Party Pulled Pork in it, and it's always good for a round of queso. But more often than not, something goes wrong: it burns (how does that even happen?), it doesn't cook, the flavors fail to meld.
I tried to make crockpot orange chicken on Wednesday. My parents and brother were in from out of town. I have fond memories of visiting a certain restaurant and everyone ordering orange chicken when I was younger, and I wanted to cook a meal at home since I know it's expensive and boring to eat out all the time while you're traveling.
I got up early Wednesday to brown the chicken and put everything together, set the crockpot on low, and headed off to work...
...only to return home to a house smelling of burnt orange juice and a crockpot caked in sticky, charred lumps of chicken that I haven't yet been able to clean out.
I don't understand why something so simple always goes so wrong, when I can pull off all sorts of more complicated cookery with ease on the first try.
But about the only thing I think my crockpot is good for anymore is queso. I give up.
*Okay, I sort of know. I have one of those basic cheapo crockpots that just has "Low" or "High" settings, and the Low setting is apparently more powerful than that on a) older crockpots and b) fancy crockpots with more specific settings. So I can't actually leave it cooking most dishes for a full workday (8-9 hours).
But what is even the point? I'm at work 5-6 hours before dinner time. How am I supposed to start a dinner then? Also, sometimes the problem is too little liquid (part of the problem, maybe, with the chicken today?), but sometimes it's too much liquid, and then it ends up flavorless.
I'm well aware that I could take the time to trouble-shoot and probably make improvements to the process. But the crockpot is supposed to make meal-making simpler and more convenient, and instead it invariably just complicates my life.
Does anyone have any crockpot tips for me? When have your special dinner plans gone wrong?
Most importantly, does anyone have a tasty, successful recipe for orange chicken???