What a Crock: Helping simmer away some of the holiday stress _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Kale Ravioli.

Each December, the recipes in “What a Crock” are holiday based, but they can also be stress relievers.

In my earlier years of active parenting, the holidays could be exhausting.

Would there be enough time between picking up one child and retrieving another at an after-school activity to think of something for dinner? Add a school project, buying supplies for said project or transporting someone to one event or another, and I was over the edge.

In later years, the stress is still there, just different triggers.

Decorating the house, shopping for presents and organizing the family schedule can send even the most prepared person into hyperdrive.

I learned to cook ahead, freeze what I could, or prepare the night before for the next day’s meal. Chop what you can, get out the ingredients from the pantry and put frozen meat into the refrigerator the night before.

The slow cooker is truly a time saver and stress buster for the holiday season.

When dinner is already decided and underway, the stress level comes down a notch — or at least it did in my experience.

So, here’s to the beginning of December. Buckle up and think ahead. You’ll be glad you did.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at juliekay6122@gmail.com.