After heating up my cottonwood leaf buds in my undersized crock pot yesterday for 20 minutes and today for 15, I decided to further accelerate the process.
First, I took my potato masher and mashed, but I couldn't tell any difference. Maybe the buds slipped through the squares in my masher.
Next, I took a slotted spoon, got out the buds in spoonsful, and chopped them.
The Devil Queen (my cat) was requiring attention at this time, which was good, coz these buds are not soft, easy-to-whack nubbins, like say, green beans. They require some attention. Also they are covered in oil, which makes them a little ... slippery.
Everything in the crock pot still smells like "green" and olive oil at this point, and I read that there's a wonderful "cottonwood" smell you get after awhile, so the crock sits in the sun until tomorrow's warming episode.
Also it seems like the olive oil is soaking into the buds, because each day I need to add a bit more to make sure the buds are covered in oil. I may use the whole 500 ml bottle.