Monday, April 4, 2011


Photo courtesy Flickr

A friend asked for recipes for the ever-useful safe and secure electronic pressure cooker. The Great Big Discount Warehouse now sells it for less than a third of the original $250. My pal said she is so focused on tasks at hand that she just won’t take the time to learn a new technology. She confessed to buying a serger, letting it sit for five years, and then donating it to charity. I know the feeling-it’s not pretty.

Where the pressure cooker is concerned, though, the new technology is more forgiving than the stove-top model and requires literally no attention after it’s loaded and locked. It’s a fast version of a slow-cooker that sautes. Just read the manual and wing it with the recipes you’ve been making all along. Remember to secure the steam valve so the pot doesn’t boil dry. This critter will turn a bag of dry kidney beans into a contest winning back of the stove confection in half an hour. We haven’t made an emergency junk food run in the three years since I bought my first one.

Cook dry beans for twenty minutes at high pressure and discard the water to drain away beans’ gassy potential. I substitute no salt vegan bouillon and dried onion for the usual time-consuming vegetable preps, often grate carrot or zucchini to enrich a broth, and the rest is just ordinary low-stress coasting, except it happens in under an hour instead of taking all day. An automatic rice cooker makes short work of a side course.

During Haight Ashbury’s Summer of Love I fed dozens of hippies with Aunt Patty's garbanzo bean, tomato, onion, and ham hock stew. Any version of any ingredient works well. The Fakin’ Bacon post a couple of weeks ago will tell you how to avoid using meat. Sea salt brings rice and beans to life.

Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun cookbook has great tips for rice-basically, add a little butter and seasonings that harmonize with the main dish. Luigi Carnacina’s Italian food encyclopedia is my go to for just about everything not Cajun, and a 1940s edition of The Joy of Cooking hides low-tech, low-stress square recipes between its covers. I often see these preparations presented as the latest and greatest food styles on TV.


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