By Kristin van Ogtrop
Updated January 26, 2015
Marcus Nilsson

By the time you reach a certain age, you know that you are not supposed to love things. Oh, sure, you can admire a masterful sculpture or a gorgeous piece of jewelry or a beautifully crafted table or lamp or chair; you can admire—uh, even rely on—particular over-the-counter medications or types of wine. But you don’t love those things. You love the people in your life (and, speaking from experience, certain extraordinary pets). Reaching the stage of maturity when you know love is for people and admiration is for things is a moment of growth and wisdom.

And yet…I really do love my slow cooker. I have tried hard to convince myself that what I feel for my slow cooker is not love but reliance. Devotion. Deep admiration. But I’m embarrassed to admit that I think it’s truly love. And I can’t make it stop.

It’s a typical Sunday. I wake up in a state of semi-panic as I ponder the day ahead: remember to put a sticker book in my purse for church so my four-year-old can entertain himself; remember that the car is on empty, so I need to get gas as soon as I leave the house; remember that the stinky soccer shin guards are in the laundry room in the basement; remember that if I don’t fertilize the houseplants they will all give up on me; remember that I need to return my sister’s phone call; remember to fill out that field-trip form due tomorrow; and remember—oh, my God—that I have to make dinner. Dinner! It is 12 hours away and already my blood pressure is going up.

And then two words pop into my mind: slow cooker. Suddenly my blood pressure returns to normal. I am calm and in control, and best of all, I can get out of bed. It’s as if I’ve taken a little magic pill.

Now, there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love the slow cooker and those who don’t know what all the fuss is about. Members of the latter group are thinking, Lady, you are crazy. You love your slow cooker like it’s a person, and you’ve mentioned pills twice in four paragraphs. But to those in the first group: You know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you? And you will be particularly excited about this issue’s cover story, “Slow. Simple. Satisfying” (page 138). I would say that it will change your life, but it won’t. Your slow cooker has already done that for you. This story will just make a good thing that much better.

So, in this Valentine’s month, I’m here to say that I don’t care that the slow cooker is an inanimate object. I don’t care that it is not especially attractive and never seems to get hot enough to actually cook my food. I don’t even care that, back in the day, people believed it could burn the house down if left on for too long. All I know is that this February 14, I will send love out to the people I hold dear: friends, family, children, my husband of 20 years. But I reserve a special sort of love—and, yes, it really is love—for my favorite appliance. Slow cooker, all would be lost without you.