Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pressure Cookery

We've been wanting a pressure cooker for years, but it seemed so foreign and hard. I really didn't know where to begin to figure out what type to buy, or how to use it. And besides, I'd heard they were kinda pricey and my stovetop bean cooking method was working just fine--except when I burned them. Then it was really stinky.

Last year, my sister-in-law Tiffany bought a Cuisinart electric pressure cooker from Amazon and just raved about it. I was about to buy one when I saw that Costco started carrying it--for like $50 less than what other stores sell that model for. It did take me a little bit to familiarize myself with it. It is really so easy, but sometimes changing my routine is hard. I use it several times a day sometimes now. It is such a great way to make healthy, cheap, fast food.

The best thing about the pressure cooker is that it can take whole grains and legumes and cook them in just a fraction of the time that it would take on the stove, and I don't have to watch the pot at all. The speed has helped me to have the ability to cook something quickly when I am dropping my kids off at practices, and when our evenings are busy and I haven't planned ahead.

I love being able to wake up at 7:00am, put a cup of millet, a cup of steel cut oats, 4 cups of water in the pressure cooker. Set it for 8 or 9 minutes then go out for a run. When my kids come down for breakfast, their cereal is hot and ready. This makes for a leisurely morning. Millet was my favorite cereal from childhood. Unfortunately it takes forever to cook. So I was so happy that I can enjoy it now without all the effort.
My kids love hot cereal. I love how cheap and filling it is. I think we figured out that it is less than 10 cents per serving. Food doesn't get much cheaper than that.

It is similar to a crock pot in that you don't have to watch the stove. But it is much, much faster. This faster cooking preserves more nutrients. Plus, it has a saute feature so you can brown meat, carmelize onions, etc, all with just using the inner pot of the pressure cooker. Fewer dishes is always good.

I cook black beans in 28 minutes(no soaking required), split pea soup took 8 minutes, and really great fluffy yummy potatoes cook in 12, artichokes in 8. The potatoes are Jared's favorite. We quarter the gold potatoes from Costco, stick them in the pressure cooker with a couple cups of water. Cook for 12 minutes. Then he mashes them and adds greek yogurt and seasoning. They are the fastest and best mashed potatoes. They don't get as gluey from the starch in the water.

Last year we watched the movie Food Inc. I thought it was a great show and very interesting. One part that I don't know if I agree with is that it is cheaper to feed kids burgers than to prepare something at home. Sure, produce is pricey. But we have the same options here as the rest of the world that feeds their families for pennies a day. Rice, beans, lentils, bread, tortillas, potatoes, etc. All of those things are still really, really cheap, and eaten in the right quantities and with some fresh food are affordable to most everyone.

I just saw that Costco is carrying the pressure cookers again for fall. I think it is a good investment at $69. It comes with a recipe booklet. Some of the recipes look really good. Lentil soup, Pasta e Fagioli, Mushroom Barley Soup, etc. They look great! I was happy to learn a few new recipes for my pressure cooker in my class with Chef Brad at Education Week. He shares some of them here.


megan said...

I LOVE IT! I am totally getting one!

Carrie said...

I think you've talked me into it!

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