Under Pressure Cooking (I just got an Instant Pot)

I had no idea what I was getting myself into, rather, what my stepson had gotten me into. It was an innocent and thoughtful Christmas gift, a vegetarian cookbook. He assumed it was for Crockpots. He assumed I had a Crockpot. It was, however, a vegetarian cookbook for an Instant Pot–whatever that was.

I made my way to the world’s favorite retail outlet determined to purchase an inexpensive Crockpot because my stepson was really excited about buying me that vegetarian cookbook, and I was really excited about using it, besides, he made me promise I would.

It was in the kitchen appliance aisle that I soon realized an Instant Pot is not merely a fancy Crockpot. There are special functions on an Instant Pot and these, of course, would be essential for Instant Pot recipes. I now felt obligated to invest a bigger chunk of change than expected so I could fulfill my promise to my stepson. Rather than the $17-$20ish cost of a Crockpot, Instant Pot prices range from around $60-$130, oh my. I spent around $80 on this accessory to my Christmas gift.

Once I had the beast out of the box and on my kitchen counter, further realization of what the thing was crept over me like a large predatory bird blotting out the sun…an Instant Pot is a pressure cooker.

Suddenly I was gripped by childhood memories, memories of my mother’s screaming grease covered rattler that shook as though it would explode and take the entire house with it. I had been banned from approaching my mother’s pressure cooker, happily, I complied.

I made the decision to read every word of the manual, slowly. New users are guided to steam water before anything else, seems simple enough. I poured the water in, locked the lid, locked the lid, locked-the-lid–extremely important! The pressure cooker is a powerful beast. I stood back and watched. It took a few minutes, but then it began to make noise. I hid outside the entrance to the kitchen and peeked around the corner at the creature. Steam was escaping in a steady stream, I had the valve in the wrong position, carefully, I swung it into its correct position–using oven mitts. Steam is HOT.

I highly recommend watching one of the many online videos that instruct Instant Pot newbies on the functions of the appliance, as well as the safety precautions that should be adhered to. I gasped at a video that included a photo of a woman with red steam-burns all over her body from improperly handling her Instant Pot. Read the manual, take precautions, operate only as directed. Always remember to release the pressure before opening.

After proving that I was capable enough to prepare water, I attempted the first recipe in the Instant Pot Vegetarian Cookbook by Urvashi Pitre–creamed green beans with mushrooms. From prep to table it’s about 25 minutes with around five minutes of cook time.

I used fresh organic green beans and vegan cream cheese to create this dish–basically, a green bean casserole, it was delish!

Cleanup is a snap, the pot is removable and it’s important to wash the rubber sealing ring or everything you prepare will taste like the last thing you cooked.

If you want less hands-on cooking and rice done in 4 minutes, Instant Pot may be perfect for your world. I’m looking forward to working my way through this cookbook…carefully and thoughtfully.

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