I used to spend a lot of time think­ing about my desert island discs. (Off the top of my head: Doolit­tle, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Foxbase Alpha, 69 Love Songs, Sum­mer­teeth, #1 Record/Radio City, Per­fect Teeth and some­thing by Led Zep­pelin but I can’t decide which one at the moment.)

But lately I’ve been think­ing about my desert island kitchen sup­plies. After cov­er­ing the basics—wooden spoon, chef’s knife, cast-iron skillet—I think I’d have to add in a slow cooker.

Crock pot surrounded by hearts

I’m sorry if you were expect­ing some­thing sex­ier. Like a set of cop­per pots. No, the mighty slow cooker is a hum­ble work­horse. You have to really try to make some­thing bad come out of it. Tough cuts of meat mag­i­cally soften. Dried beans become things of beauty. And when I am lazy and want noth­ing to do with the kitchen, the slow cooker does (almost) all the work.

About that photo: look, this pot roast is great. It was the first thing I cooked for my hus­band and more than six years later, he’s still around. How­ever, it doesn’t pho­to­graph well. Pretty doesn’t need to be part of the pot roast equa­tion. As for your desert island kitchen, what do you need to survive?

Mediter­ranean Pot Roast

(loosely adapted from a recipe that orig­i­nally appeared sev­eral years ago in a Woman’s Day mag­a­zine called, appro­pri­ately enough, Slow Cook­ing)

3 lb bone­less chuck roast
1 t salt
1 T Ital­ian sea­son­ing (I inter­pret this as a few shakes of dried basil, rose­mary and oregano)
1–3 gar­lic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried toma­toes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup sliced pit­ted Kala­mata olives
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 red onion, chopped (The orig­i­nal recipe calls for ½ cup frozen pearl onions, but frozen onions? Really?)

1. Heat a lit­tle olive oil (maybe a Table­spoon, maybe less) in a skil­let. Cook the beef about five min­utes, turn­ing once, until a nice brown crust appears on both sides. Place in slow cooker.

2. Add salt, Ital­ian sea­son­ing and gar­lic on top of the roast. Then cover with toma­toes, olives and onions. Pour in the broth.

3. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours. (My roast is usu­ally nice and ten­der around 5 hours, but your slow cooker might be different.)

4. The beef will be falling apart, so slic­ing it is unnec­es­sary (unless you’re just that fancy). Your roast will likely require a lit­tle fat removal before serving.

When I really have my act together, I serve this on top of mashed pota­toes. Slices of baked polenta (from that weird polenta tube I usu­ally find around rice) are nice too. When I made this a few days ago, I served Smit­ten Kitchen’s Mediter­ranean Pep­per Salad too, because I like to keep my Mediter­ranean dishes together.

Not into red meat? That’s cool. Check out Look Linger Love’s white chicken chili, which fea­tures actual pho­tos of the food in ques­tion, not to men­tion a kitchen that might need to adopt me. You know, if kitchens could adopt.