A 1970s era slow cooker, plus a few ingredients haphazardly mingled at nightfall, can occasionally result in a most sumptuous breakfast. Last night was such a night.

Since I don’t like following recipes, all my cooking / baking creations turn into one-offs. The quality is inconsistent, ranging from the okay to the oh-wow. Just to break with tradition, here is the list of ingredients for my superstar stew from last night:

  • 2lb stewing beef cubes
  • one 10oz can of beef soup base
  • a handful of paprika and garlic powder, and other minor spices
  • one tomato
  • one 28oz can of tomatoes
  • 3 large carrots
  • 2 cooking onions
  • 5 medium potatoes

All non-animal non-mineral content was cut into little bite-sized bits, and layered in the order above. By next morning, the smell in the house was so good, that even our pair of air filters couldn’t remove it. Other times, the balance of moisture (meats and fruits) and drying agents (potatoes) makes the concoction imperfect: crunchy semi-cooked tomatoes, or an outright dilute soup. But not this time. Yummmm!

I play the same game with my cheesecake attempts. One out of five is totally awesome, and the rest are merely okay. The right balance between standard and improvised ingredients, plus baking technique, are all deliberate variables. The good ones, huge as they are, unfortunately don’t last long enough to be shared with friends, and spoil our enjoyment of lesser restaurant desserts.