Today my long, arduous search finally came to an end. Yes, my friends, I finally found... a crockpot!
Now, I'm sure you may be wondering why on earth it was so hard for me to find. Slow-cookers are available in pretty much every appliance store in China; however, almost all of them have an orange clay insert, like this one:
While the clay is supposed to add beneficial nutrients to the food, its rough, untreated surface is not ideal for cooking anything other than broth-based soups, something I learned the hard way with a potato-egg breakfast casserole - talk about stuck-on food! So for months I've been searching high and low for a slow-cooker with a glazed ceramic insert. Imagine my joy when I finally found this "special buy" ceramic crockpot - for only $14 US to boot! (The clay ones run around $30 and up. I think mine was so much cheaper because it's considered "inferior" to the clay versions.) Now, if I was in the States I would have gotten a stainless steel finish, or white... here I get orange and green stars. That's China! But hey, it cooks just fine. By 6pm we had chili bubbling away and a loaf of quick-bread just coming out of the oven. Perfection. Who would have thought that a simple little crockpot could suddenly make us feel so much more "at home?"