The Pressure is On

I’ve noticed my cooking routine has changed with my increased use of whole grains, legumes, and beans.  I’m planning more meals ahead and precooking those time-consuming staples for convenience later in the week.  I’m cooking more in stages, always looking for ways to streamline so that when it’s mealtime  I can enjoy cooking as much as possible.  
For months I have been eying pressure cookers―tempted, but unable to get passed that lingering anxiety of hot exploding objects.  It seems no matter where I turn lately, someone is talking about how they love their PC.  On the Food Network I watched Trisha Yearwoodand a girlfriend effortlessly whip up a batch of mashed potatoes in what resembled the Fagor PC I have been considering.  I visualized myself, lid in hand, standing over my mashed potato filled pressure cooker, smiling confidently, too.  In that moment, my fear was replaced with desire―and there was no turning back: I was all in. 
Fagor 8-Qt Pressure Cooker
This week my Fagor Pressure Cooker arrived and I have kept my mitts on and faced the demons. There have been moments when pressure was building (or releasing) and I wondered if I would be rocketed into the third dimension, but it didn’t happen.  Yes, it’s all a learning process, and I’m gaining confidence.  The trickiest part has been to determine the best heat setting on my electric range that will mesh with my PC and maintain the proper pressure level.    
After a preliminary run through to test my new equipment, I launched my first official project:  chicken stock.   I added my usual onion, celery, and herbs to assorted chicken parts and bones defrosted from the freezer, and covered it all with water.  Since directions suggest moving the PC between two electric burners to maintain pressure, one on high, the other on a low setting, I juggled between burners and held my breath for 20 minutes.   Once the pressure subsided I opened the lid and peered in:  there was still plenty of water and nothing had burned.  I had two quarts of chicken stock!    
I have since tested both lentils and buckwheat, with varying degrees of success.  Erring on the side of caution, the le puy lentils needed a bit more than the meager 4 minutes cooking time (how bad is that?!).  But, I would rather have them al dente than mush, anyway.  The kasha took longer.  The directions suggested letting it cool naturally in the pot, which cooked it too long and it stuck to the bottom surface.  Fortunately, it was not burned and came off easily. 
This morning’s breakfast:   steaming hot kasha with a snappy banana-yogurt sauce.  All smiles here. 
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