Sunday, May 29, 2016

For those about to Crock, we salute you

Sometimes it's the little things that make you feel at home. Maybe it's peanut butter, or finding your favorite TV show from home on a local channel. Or maybe it's finding a particular kitchen appliance of which you are particularly fond.

 By "finding", of course, I mean "buying off US Amazon and paying $30 shipping because it's still 4,000 yen cheaper than anything in Tokyo". That's the basic level of shipping, too -- no international express delivery here. Still, the initial email said it would arrive June 2, so imagine my surprise on Wednesday when I got a note from Sagawa Otodoke telling me I missed a delivery. It took 20 minutes and several attempts to slog through Sagawa's redelivery hotline, but I managed to reschedule and got my slow cooker on Saturday.

A quick sweep through my two nearest grocery stores showed they had most of the ingredients required for my favorite slow cooker recipes (missing: cream soup, ravioli, and shell pasta). As I'm in Japan, though, I figured there was no better way to take my new acquisition out for a test drive than making niku jaga (that's Japanese beef stew, for the unhip among you). How did it turn out?

Not too bad, if I do say so myself. I swapped out the sake in the recipe for mirin and left out the sugar altogether, and neither did much to hurt the flavor. Plus, the whole apartment smelled of beef stew for hours, which was a nice touch. The only downside I've noticed about the slow cooker thus far is its cord is quite short. With the only outlets in the kitchen taken up by the microwave and refrigerator, I either have to spring for another power strip or set the slow cooker on the washing machine or in my bedroom while it's cooking. A small price to pay for being able to cook in batches with low time investment, really.

The slow cooker will probably be my last major purchase for a while, barring unforeseen breakage or windfalls. I have a small amount of savings that needs to last for the next 17 months, so both drastically reducing spending and finding a job that pays better and/or more steadily are high on the agenda.

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