Crockpot Recipes

Kimchi pork roast

Over a decade ago when I lived in Shanghai, I created a crockpot recipe. It went like this:

  • Step 1: Dump a pork roast into a crockpot
  • Step 2: Dump some kimchi into the crockpot
  • Step 3: Cook (8 hours on low, or 5 hours on high)
  • Step 4: Serve with rice.

As you can see, it was stupid easy. For the video above, I chopped that pork into cubes, but on subsequent trials, I just left the roast whole and liked it better that way. This recipe works great with beef too.

I may have based this recipe on my friend M’s Kalua Pig Recipe.

Kalua Pig with Cabbage.

  • Step 1: Dump a pork roast in to a crockpot (I ilike pork butt or shoulder)
  • Step 2: Season with Hawaiian salt and two drops of liquid smoke.
  • Step 3: Cook (8 hours on low, or 5 hours on high)
  • Step 4: Remove meat from crock pot and let it cool/rest.
  • Step 5: Shred cabbage and toss it in the fat of the meat. Let it cook for an hour.
  • Step 6: Shred meat and return it to crockpot.
  • Step 7: Serve with poi. Or rice.

Here’s a new one. My sister and brother in law can’t get enough of it.

Bratwurst in a Simple Ragù

  • Step 1: Dump one tetrapak of tomatoes in the crockpot and set to high.
  • Step 2: Grill some bratwurst. Don’t bother cooking all the way through, just get some grill marks and char flavor.
  • Step 3: Dump the bratwurst into the tomatoes and leave them there for 5 hours.
  • Step 4: Serve with pasta or something.

I’ve been using bratwurst because of some dietary restrictions, but Italian sausage sounds more appropriate.

Speaking of dietary restrictions, I don’t eat any of this stuff anymore, I’m a pescatarian. But I am feeding my family with these recipes still.

Recipe: Iced Coffee and Cold Brew

I’m not a coffee snob, I don’t have a very discerning palate. I do, however, know when coffee tastes like ass, and I refuse to subject myself to that. I go out of my way to buy fresh roasted beans (purchased within days of roasting, checking the date on the package.

I use a French press because it doesn’t waste a paper or plastic products every day, and is fast and easy to clean up. If you want to see how I do it, here’s a video I made in the original Spanish. The original is better but if you need English, I have that too.

Iced coffee and cold brew are a nice way to enjoy coffee on a hot day. It’s also a good way to consume left over coffee. You can kick it up a notch by making coffee ice cubes to go with your chilled coffee drink, but that’s extra.

Recipe: Iced Coffee

Ingredients: Leftover coffee that you brewed but didn’t finish.

Procedure: Pour your leftover coffee into a carafe or mason jar and chill overnight.

Serving: Drink it. Extra points for serving it over ice. Cream and sugar? It’s a free country.

Recipe: Cold Brewed Coffee

Ingredients: Fresh roasted coffee beans; water. Use the same proportions as you use for hot coffee; I use four heaping tablespoons of whole beans per 1.2 liters of water, which is the size of my French press cafetera.


  • Grind the beans to to somewhere between coarse and fine. Make it more fine than when you brew with boiling water, but still coarse enough to feel a poke if you stepped on spilled grinds with bare feet. Whatever, don’t lose sleep over it.
  • Mix the ground beans with cold water in a container large enough to hold it; a mason jar, a carafe, your French press’s carafe minus the plunger. Cover and put it in your fridge.
  • The next morning, strain it somehow; French press, coffee filter, cheese cloth, who cares.

Serving: Look, you’ve cold brewed coffee and strained it somehow; if I have to tell you how to serve it and drink it, this recipe might be too difficult for you.

The reason I’m writing this blog post is because I saw this lifestyle post about cold brew and it made my brain explode that people still think this is a mysterious, difficult and expensive process. It’s not; it’s cheap, easy, and frankly, lazy. Don’t buy special beans or equipment. Spend ZERO EXTRA MONEY on making chilled coffee drinks.

Cheese dip recipe; and news of the day

When I think “cheese dip” I usually think of a queso fundido; this is not a melted cheese dip. It’s more like a cheese salad.

Take some gouda cheese and shred it in a bowl. Add finely chopped red onions, or chopped green onions if your brother-in-law doesn’t handle raw onions well. Add some Worcestershire (or some Salsa Lizano if you’ve got ticos in the house) and just guess at the amount, whatever. Finally add just enough mayo to bind it up, and that’s your cheese dip; serve it on crackers.

I made some today, and surprised my brother-in-law with a bowl of it while he was watching something on Netflix. When he realized what it was, he gasped and squeed at the same time; it was a funny sound.

I first learned of this cheese dip from J the AP English teacher, who found it at the Ralph’s on Country Club in Palm Desert. Apparently she and N kept buying it and eating it and were thankful that it wasn’t always available so that they wouldn’t be constantly eating it. It was really good. I think J introduced it to me on spaghetti night.

I found this recipe and modified it because I forgot to buy all the proper ingredients and got bored of measuring. Anyway, my version hits the spot. What else is happening?

What else is happening?

  • I’ve been writing a bunch of music, and my choir at St. Therese is singing it!
  • I’ve been taking ukulele lessons, learning songs like “Hukilau” and “Paumana” and “Yeasterday” (sic) and others. The latest was “Saint Honesty.”
  • Some of my colleagues and I have been trying to find a way to keep our beloved gay colleagues from getting fired when they decide they want to get married. We’re working on it. For now the biggest obstacle we face is goons. Goons at every turn.
  • The coronavirus outbreak is starting to affect our lives here directly. Today we had a meeting about how to give distance learning classes if and when the health department closes our buildings. That’s going to be a mess.
  • Joe Biden seems to be the front runner for democratic nominee now. We’ll see.

That’s it for now. Apparently R is on his “pilgrimage;” they gave him a bus ticket and $5 and said, meet us in DC in a couple of weeks. How will he make it? Trust in the Lord, they tell him. He’ll be fine.

Recipe: Potage

I first ate potage when I was studying in Avignon in the fall of 1993.  I asked my host mother what the magical green soup was, and she laughed and said it was just potage.  It was thick, green, complex, and had some beautiful olive oil floating on top. When I asked why there was olive oil floating on top, she said “it tastes good.”

My host mother and brother encouraged me to use the last scraps of bread to mop up the last of the sauce on my plate; considered gauche in France but we didn’t care. We used the Italian term, “fare la scarpetta.”

One day, the potage was so good, I started doing “la scarpetta” to the last of drops of it, thickly clinging to the bottom of my soup bowl. My host brother, Christophe, who was my European table manners coach, told me wearily that we don’t far’ la scarpetta with the soup course.  My most mother Madame di Nicola didn’t miss a beat; without a word she picked up a scrap of bread and told Christophe, “well, we do now!”

Madame di Nicola didn’t share her recipe with me back then; I wasn’t really cooking at the time. But she did tell me it’s an improvised recipe, just steamed or boiled vegetables, flavored with garlic, onion, and herbs, whizzed together in a blender. I remember she told me that some people add potatoes, but one small potato is the maximum. The look on her face told me that people that added more than one small potato were not behaving properly.

Serve potage hot, at the table drizzle the best olive oil on top. Black pepper or parmesan cheese sprinkles are optional. Apparently in northern France they’d top it with cream or butter, but nobody’s perfect.

My recipe is also not a recipe, just some constraints. Yesterday I steamed a bunch of broccoli and celery (enough to fill the blender) and whizzed them in the blender with the steamer water and four cloves of raw garlic. I toasted some cracked black pepper and heated some olive oil in the soup pot. Then I realized I didn’t really want to sauté anything, so I just dumped in some dill and then poured in the minty green soup.

And that’s it; serve it with olive oil.

I recently found out that Madame di Nicola passed away peacefully surrounded by her family. May the joyful memories of her time with us stay with her family and friends, and continue to bring them joy. May she rest in peace.

Thanksgiving Break 2018 and my bread recipe

I’m back in the desert after Thanksgiving in Vegas with my family. We went and saw Fantastic Beasts II, went to bingo, ate at my favorite Chinese restaurant Bund Shanghai, went grocery shopping at both the Mexican supermarket and the Filipino supermarket. What else is there?

Our family’s T-day menu was an 8 lb turkey roasted beer-can style; a roast lamb, shrimp pansit, tarragon mashed potatoes, slow-cooker dressing, stir-fried brussels sprouts, roasted brocoli, fresh baguettes. K made gallo pinto. The guests brought a not-that-sweet bibinka and some goat caldereta.

We failed to make the salmon, totally forgot about anything cranberry. For dessert, we got two free pumpkin pies from the casino, and the dessert eaters declared them disgusting. The guests brought another free casino pumpkin pie. My dad proposed giving them to the poor, but my mama vetoed cursing the poor with something that was not good enough to serve to her own family.  I think those pies got junked. The dessert eaters were in heaven sucking on some sugar cane that my mama bought at the supermarket.

K wants to make bread, so here’s my recipe:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 0.5 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1.5 cup water

Stir the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Add the water and stir with the back of a wooden spoon until all the dry flour is gone; you’ll have a shaggy mass. Clean all the scraps from the sides of the bowl and dump it into the mass of flour. Cover and leave it alone until the next day, up to 48 hours. At the very least, give it eight hours. It will transform itself into a wet, sticky pool.

It’s ready to bake after that, but if you want to work it a little, you can fold it, let it rest, fold it again, let it rest… whatever.  Cook a round loaf in a Dutch oven with or without parchment; or  with a little more work you can shape baguettes.

If you bake soon after folding and shaping, your loaf will be a strong, tight, dense ball. If you let it rest more, it will be bulkier, fluffier, and sloppier in terms of shape.

I blast the oven to 500°F with the Dutch oven inside, uncovered, preheating. When I think it’s all hot enough, I line the screaming hot Dutch oven with baking paper or flour, then quickly dump the dough ball into the center and slash it up with a sharp knife. Then I bake it for 30 minutes with the lid on, and 30 more minutes with the off. Cool it on a rack or whatever. If you slice it too soon, it will be delicious but the part if the loaf you don’t eat might lose a lot of moisture.

So here’s the minimum gear you need for the dough: measuring cups, measuring spoons, big mixing bowl, something to cover it with.  Optional: silicone spatula, bench scraper.

Here’s the minimum gear you need for the round loaf: Dutch oven. Optional: parchment paper.  I’ve made a round loaf in K’s apartment before so I know he has all these things.

Here’s the minimum gear you need for baguettes:  baking sheet.  Optional: Silpat liner, sharp knife for slashing, little container for steam bath.  You can buy the baguette cradle if you’re into it; I would buy this one because it will make larger loaves. The one that I bought really makes ficelles, which are delicious but should be eaten hot and fresh… they get hard and crusty if you let them wait.

I enjoy hard and crusty but my mama adds stuff like flax and chia to her recipe and the finished product turns out softer. The last round of baguettes I made were yellow from turmeric.

October Break 2018; Tomato Sauce Recipe

  1. I drove through the desert at night, from the Coachella Valley to Las Vegas. It was a full moon in the Mohave National Reserve.
  2. Selfie with mama.
  3. Selfie with dad.
  4. This is my new soap. The pour was a fail, but the color and the formula was perfect. I was going to try dancing tunnels but the batter thickened up and I was lucky to get it into the mold with a spoon. I’m getting close to perfecting my signature soap.
  5. I discovered these beans in my mama’s fridge, labeled ‘betswelas,” a borrowing from Spanish “habichuelas.” I’m surprised that they didn’t get the Mexican word (ejotes) or the European Spanish word (judías verdes). Habichuelas reminds me of Caribbean, Andean, or maybe Central American Spanish.
  6. I made pansit. It was really good, and the key was the broth. But also I burned the veggies in the wok, which makes them taste better.  The whole time I was thinking about that America’s Ethnocentric Test Kitchen, where they decided definitively that woks don’t work for stir fry.
  7. The next morning for breakfast I baked baguettes and made a tortilla de patatas.
  8. That night for dinner I made pupusas, curtido, and even that thin tomato salsa that they serve with pupusas. The pupusas were loroco y queso, and my mama recognized the loroco and identified it as bagbagkong, or sabidukong.  It’s good in Ilocano garden vegetable recipes, and it’s available at the Mexican supermarket.
  9. I made bread with my mama’s dough.  I was trying to slash a star. There was an issue of the paper sticking.
  10. My mama says the bunot (coconut husk) polishes the floor better than the electric polisher the bought. Added bonuses, she gets her exercise, and also the dogs don’t lose their minds with the bunot.
  11. My mama helps me with my sewing project.
  12. She sewed me a Möbius Strap for my ukulele!  Apologies to the inventor.
  13. My mama tested out her new pasta making extruder by making bucatini from scratch!
  14. I made a tomato sauce from scratch. It was spectacular.

JP’s Tomato Sauce Recipe

Toast some black pepper in a pan over medium.  Douse with olive oil and start roasting your garlic in there. Don’t wait for it to finish, just get it started. Add in some oregano.

Dump in half of a little thang of anchovy filets in olive oil and crush them into the oil with your stirring spoon. Don’t tell skittish people about the anchovies, they will be annoying.  Drop in some chopped onions and get them to translucent.

Drop in a bunch of chopped tomatoes. Add salt, more oregano, thyme, bay leaf, whatever you find.

Stew it for half an hour over medium low. If you need more umami, splash in a dash of soy sauce and don’t tell Italian people; they will talk about their nonna as if that’s relevant to the situation, nun me ne frega, mi hai capito?  Eu! Anyway I forgot to add the soy sauce, but I did add some red pepper paste.

Tell your guests to wash their hands and sit down at the table.

Boil the water off. Then add the hot pasta and spoonful of the pasta water.  Crank the flame up to high and then toss the pasta into the sauce until that water has boiled off again and the stewed tomatoes are clinging to the pasta for dear life.  Turn the heat off and drizzle with more olive oil.

That’s eat. Serve it hot with grated parmesan.

There are a few things that add umami to any dish (besides just adding MSG). They are cooked tomatoes, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and anchovies.  The reason pasta in tomato sauce is appealing is because it’s super umami.  I’m so, so sorry for all that sour tomato sauce you’ve eaten over your life. For the Filipinos, that half cup of sugar in your tomato sauce is why we’re all overweight and diabetic.

I drive back to the desert tomorrow.




Recipe: Steamed Fish

Buy a fresh white fish that will fit whole in your steamer rig. Tell your fish guy to clean the fish but leave the head on.

Prep: Julienne some ginger and the whites of some green onions. Wash and trim some cilantro. The leafy green section of the green onion, you can give them a simple chop at several inches long. Peel a large garlic clove and slice it paper thin. Optional: make paper thin slices of chile serrano or Thai chiles.

Rinse and pat your fish dry, outside and in. Slice some vents into the side of the fish, down to the bone, but don’t slice the bone! Season with salt and black pepper, outside and in. Stuff cavity of the fish with ginger and lengths of green onion.

Cook: Steam your fish gently for 15 to 20 minutes.

While that’s happening, bloom some black pepper in a hot sauce pan.  Add soy sauce and seafood stock. Reduce the liquid to thicken a little, and pour into a small bowl or large ramekin.

Set the table.

The fish is done when the center is 145°F. It should be juicy and come easily off the bone. Move the whole fish to your serving plate and garnish with raw julienne of ginger, slices of garlic and chiles, and then finally the whites of green onion and the tender parts of the cilantro. Give the whole thing one last blessing of fresh cracked black pepper.

Call everybody to the table. Heat a quarter cup of oil in clean saucepan.

When everyone is seated, bring the fish to the dining table and carefully pour the hot oil over the garnish, making sure to hit the garlic slices. Stuff should sizzle and pop but not splash or jump; slow your roll if people start getting oil burns.

Finally, dress the fish with the soy sauce mixture.