I don't know why; maybe with fall comes a new burst of energy, but I really felt like cooking, trying new recipes and other new things, and getting back to blogging this week. (Maybe I have reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder?) The boys and I tried a somewhere-between-gym-and-dance class today and it was adorable, and amazing to watch my younger one totally groove on it and attach himself to the teacher. (And my older, in his usual style, rejected it flat-out at first, watching from the sideline. Then he came over saying, Well, I'll do it, but only the thing that looked cool three moves ago. And then eventually, as a full-on participant, though of course the one who wouldn't freeze when it was time to do so and tried to slam dance the much-smaller kids. Not a terrible thing he's starting school on Wednesdays in a few weeks, I think.)
Today's experiment was the apple-turkey-cheese crockpot meatballs from A Year of Crockpotting. I had everything in the house already (except I used Cr@isins since I wasn't going to the indispensable Tr@der Joe's anytime soon for the unsweetened version), and lots of cooking to do, so this seemed like a good use of time and ingredients.
The verdict? Decidedly mixed, though leaning negative. The most important thing I learned, though, is that my crockpot runs way, way, way hotter on one side than the other. The meatballs on the side on my right were burned to a crisp before 3 hours were up. The meatballs on the left weren't even close to that done. So, thing 1: try the low setting and see if that helps or not.
For that alone, it was worth doing as I'd noticed that this spiffy new crockpot runs much hotter than my old one. (The oldie was only retired because I dropped the insert and cracked it in half.) Now I'm thinking it might only run hotter on one side.
As to the meatballs that were not burned...I'll bet my kids will love them. I don't mean to damn with faint praise, but they were a bit bland for my tastes. Two caveats: I didn't use a green apple (which are my preference as well); maybe the crisper variety and more tart flavor would have amped these up too. And I did use the sweetened cranberries, which may be throwing things off a little. Unfortunately, I am not a good improviser so I can't even guess what else might help. A little poultry seasoning, perhaps? And, come to think of it, mine were definitely not golf ball sized. I live in fear of crispy outsides and raw middles in meatballs, so I lean to the small. I probably should have compensated for that by cooking on low instead.
So, the verdict: might try once more, with Something Else for pizazz, and an altered cooking time. But I will always be glad I made this because--really--meatballs in the slow cooker? Never would have crossed my mind to try this. I know I underutilize my crockpot by only making things that are, it's fair to say, somewhat gloppy or textureless. So, all in all, a successful experiment, even if the actual food result wasn't something I adored. That part is fixable, and the technique part was really valuable.