What do a crockpot, a mad bluebird, and Earl Grey have in common?


Sounds like a bad riddle, doesn’t it?  For me, they were the Fab Triumvirate of items that kept me sane during the past two weeks, while I was speed-writing with a group of fellow first-draft writers.  We were writing the “Emotion Draft” – a program put together by the multi-talented Rachel Funk Heller, who designed and mentored us through the process.

I’ll have to let her post about it, because she can explain it better, but the basic goal was to get as many words down in each day (for twelve days) as we could, keeping in mind the characters’ emotional responses to the events we had plotted, and tapping into our Adaptive Subconscious without our Inner Critic getting in the way and slowing us down.  (We’re going to edit it later anyway, right?).  I got to nearly the halfway point in my rough draft doing this.  Yay!  Book three of Concordia’s escapades is on its way to becoming a reality. 😉

During my intensive writing sessions, I turned to these:



…Earl Grey tea, because that’s my absolute favorite, fragrant tea – and the jolt of caffeine doesn’t hurt, either – and my “mad bluebird” mug, because looking at something that’s cute and grumpy at the same time cheers me up.  Kids are good for that, too, by the way.  Just sayin’…

Planning ahead for those busy days helped, too, especially the meals.  What?  The family wants to be fed…again?

Below is one of my favorite crockpot recipes, originally from my mom (*waves hi*).  It was the first recipe on my plan-ahead list.  When it’s added to rice, it can feed a family of four through at least three nights, with some left over for a couple of lunch servings.  It freezes well, too, and since we really didn’t want the same meal for three or four nights in a row, I divided the end product and froze half of it for the second week.  I don’t know about you, but having leftovers to turn to feels like money in the bank.  Love that warm, fuzzy feeling of security.

So, here’s the recipe…hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


Crockpot Beef


1 cup chopped onion*

1 cup chopped celery*

1/2 cup chopped peppers*

*I use already chopped veggies from the supermarket’s salad bar, or the freezer section.

30 oz tomato sauce

2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1 cup water

 3.5 lb eye round or rump roast (I used two small ones, adding up to about 4 lbs)

2 or more cloves of garlic, minced (I use the already-minced stuff in the jar.  See a theme here?)

ground black pepper


1. Mix veggies together, and spread half of the mixture in the bottom of crockpot.  Set the other half aside for the moment.

2. Season roast(s) with garlic and black pepper.  I just use a fork; it’s awkward no matter how you do it.  Don’t worry if some garlic falls off.

3.  Sear roast(s) on all sides in a heated pan or skillet with a little oil, until they look something like this:

4. Then plunk those little cuties in the crockpot, on top of the veggies.

5. Put the rest of the veggie mixture on top of the roast(s).

6. Pour all of the liquid ingredients on top of that (no need to mix them; just splash them in):

7. Cover and set on HIGH for 6-8 hours.  The house will smell soooo good.  Be prepared for major stomach-rumbling.

8.  Then, it’s time to shred!  What I like to do is spoon the liquid into a separate receptacle temporarily, then use two forks to pull the meat apart right in the crockpot, like this:

9. Pour the liquid back in, stir, and serve over rice or noodles.

What recipe do you turn to when you know you have a busy week ahead?  I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time,


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27 thoughts on “What do a crockpot, a mad bluebird, and Earl Grey have in common?”

  1. Julie GloverJulie Glover

    I’m eager to hear more about Rachel’s Emotional Draft! Glad it worked for you. I’ve been a version of Candace Havens’s approach, which I’m now calling “Faster Draft” because it’s not quite as fast as she writes. But it does help to stay steeped in the story. (Like that tea pun?)

  2. Marcy KennedyMarcy Kennedy

    I’m so glad I could take part in WEDs with all of you. Though I wish I’d had a mug like that. I may have to look around to find my own special writing mug 🙂

  3. Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2)Jennifer Jensen (@jenjensen2)

    I’ve been in the same mode, only for getting a writing class portfolio ready, not fast-drafting a new story. And for when i get the chance for that again, I’ll save bookmark Rachel’s Emotional Draft process – it sounds intriguing.

    My go-to trick is to brown 3-5 lbs. of hamburger at once, drain it, and freeze it in zip-top bags of 2-3 cups each. It can be pulled out to add to spaghetti sauce, make tacos or stroganoff, or a bazillion other things. I also cook a double/triple batch of pasta or rice at a time and spread it through the week. We have a bunch of chicken recipes that are served over rice. The daily problem is veggies, but we go raw a lot – cucumbers, tomatoes or baby carrots.

    Oh – and I’m glad your draft was for Concordia! I bought the first one in print (needed to have a sample of Amazon’s print quality and I chose yours), and loved it. Now that I’ve got time to read, Concordia’s second adventure is due on my Kindle.

  4. Catie RhodesCatie Rhodes

    This recipe looks good. I always buy roasts when they are on cheap sale. This is what I’m going to do with one of my cheap roasts.

    Here’s a similar recipe:


    1 can cream of chicken soup
    1 can cream of golden mushroom soup
    1 envelope lipton onion soup mix
    1 cheap roast

    What you do:

    Mix soups in large bowl with spoon. Sear roast as shown in your example. Spoon a little of the soup mixture in the crock pot, set the roast on top of it, and smear the rest of the soup mixture over the roast. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low. Remove from crock and shred as you did with your roast, returning the meat to the gravy. Allow to simmer while you cook your noodles or warm the bread.

    Serve over noodles or fresh bread.

    Now…with the leftovers, I make an awesome beef pot pie with a can of veg-all and bisquick biscuit dough. 🙂

  5. Kirsten WeissKirsten Weiss

    From the outline you’ve explained, the emotional drafting process sounds like a great technique for kicking out a character-driven first draft. Verrrrry interesting!

  6. Margot KinbergMargot Kinberg

    Cathy – That sounds absolutely delicious. Thanks for the recipe. And so very glad to hear you’ve made so much progress on your writing. That’s excellent!

  7. Amy KennedyAmy Kennedy

    My mouth is watering Kathy! And I love the bird mug.
    I love to make up huge amounts of lasagna and meatloaf–I don’t even know if I can remember how to make one meatloaf! My cooking is not as orderly as yours…but I start with:
    1 lb ground beef
    1 lb ground Italian sausage (hot)
    1 lb ground turkey
    Mix with 2 eggs, 2 t minced garlic, bread crumbs (half to one cup), a splash or two of Worcester sauce, a blob of BBQ sauce, shaky-shaky of Parmesan cheese and anything else that seems appetizing, like crumbled cooked bacon!
    MIX by hands, form into 3 loafs, freeze two and voila!
    Boxed potatoes, a can of corn and some gravy and you’re set.

    • Gloria RichardGloria Richard

      You measure ingredients exactly the way I do, Amy. I blob here, a splash there…

      I’ve been missing out on the Parmesan Shaky-Shaky dance.

      BONUS! You didn’t have “season with salt and pepper to taste.” Um. We’re dealing with raw meat here. How in the clucking Angry Bluebird does one “taste” that?

      • Amy KennedyAmy Kennedy

        Hahaha! Clucking angry bluebird…hahahahahahahahaha.

  8. Gloria RichardGloria Richard

    The recipe looks YUMMY, K.B.

    I’m always in search of crockpot recipes. Makes it smell like I’ve been working all day and deserve a night off

    Oh! And, splash some Pine-Sol around in the bathrooms. That makes it smell like I’ve been cleaning toilets all days. Always good for a day-out-of-the-house-pass. Not that I ask for them. It simply amps the glee factor when I bolt.

    When I really want to get out of being the cook du jour I express an insatiable desire for the yummy [insert one of five things hubby cooks] dish, and insist I don’t make it as well as he does. Man + Ego = Win 4 Me

  9. Kassandra LambKassandra Lamb

    I love that grumpy bluebird!! The recipe made my stomach rumble just looking at the pictures.

    And I want me some paper dolls and colored pencils! Sounds like the process was very productive for you, Kathy. Yay!!

  10. Eden MabeeEden Mabee

    Earl Grey tea is my favorite too. If you are willing to order it from Ceylon, this is MY favorite version…. SO fragrant and delicious. (http://onlineshop.dilmahtea.com/categories/Teas-by-type/-Flavoured-Black-Tea-/)

    Have you ever made bread pudding in a crockpot? Really good, and it freezes well too. And you can add more egg and less sugar plus some veggies for something breakfast-like…. I love my crockpot.

    Great to hear about the third book!

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