When I first went blind, cooking was one of the most daunting tasks to me. I had the unpleasant experience of touching hot coils when I was sighted and didn’t fancy myself another helping of heat with a side of pain. To help avoid the coils and making sure my pot and pans are aligned on the stovetop, I like to place them as centered as humanly possible *I may be a little compulsive* before I start the heat. Inevitably the vessel in which you’re cooking will shift while you stir or bump the handle. No biggie, get the fork that you found under your fridge (or any heat resistant utensil of your choice) and use it as a guide to find the edges of your burner. Press the edge of the pot to said utensil and voila semi centered cookware!
This post isn’t about grill marks on hands or trying to figure out where the fork came from though. It is about an appliance that makes grilled fingertips a thing of the past *Unless you’re bar- b- queing, which is a totally different beast entirely. * What is this appliance you ask? well it’s the humble instant pot.
I have been eyeing the instant pot for several years, in particular the Bluetooth model. I could never find any sources on accessibility of the iPhone app, and this kept me from taking the leap and buying it. Finally, on my birthday last year, I decided to pick one up. It was on sale, and if it didn’t work… Well then, I would just return it, and buy a popcorn maker. Seriously there is one like they have at the movie theaters, just smaller. It turns out the app was accessible with voiceover, Hooray for technology, and my easy cooking days began. The first meal made in that appliance of the future, was a salmon filet on a bed of yellow rice. Want to know how fast it cooked? Go ahead, ask. Less than 5 minutes after it came to pressure. So yes, while it isn’t as instant as they claim, it takes a few minutes for it to get to pressure, it was definitely faster than the 45 minutes recommended for baking in the oven, and it came out juicy, flavorful, and HOT.
The instant pot is said to be many appliances in one, and I definitely agree. I have made, banana nut bread *with chocolate and without*, the best boiled eggs ever, yogurt, apple butter, one pot spaghetti, and the list goes on and on. So far, my favorite items have been the yogurt, banana nut bread, and apple butter. There are thousands of recipes made for the instant pot, deciding which one to make is probably going to be the hardest part of your meal prep after you pick one up. One of the best things about it, is if used properly, no burned fingers. you place all your ingredients inside, add however much water the recipe calls for, put the lid on and set it. To set the unit, you hop into your instant pot app and there is a selection of what type of meat you’re cooking, or some specialty options you can choose. I usually just select the manual option and set the timer and pressure setting according to the recipe. For the folks not in the know, the instant pot is a pressure cooker. It has several safety features that keep it from being a danger, but as always respect your appliances and know how to use it before operating. There is a chance of getting burned when releasing the pressure so be aware of what you are doing at all times. The app will tell you when the unit is on and coming to temp. It also tells you when the pressure is at a no pressure reading, low or high, cook time and heating level. Personally, I like watching the temperature level rise and guessing when the locking pin will move into place. *I may or may not have liked to watch paint dry when I was a kid. * After the unit has come to pressure, the countdown will begin, and will be displayed on the unit as well as the app. feel free to go multi task and be productive, or if drying paint is your thing, watch the time count down on your phone. After the countdown has finished, the instant pot will politely scream at you to let you know it is done converting your raw food elements into a form suitable for consumption. But before you can remove the lid *remember that locking pin? * you have to release the pressure. Some recipes call for a natural release, which is just letting it sit and cool down for about 10 minutes. others require a quick release, especially if you don’t want mushy veggies. So, you will go to your release valve which you should have already located prior to using and move it from the sealed to venting position. If there is pressure in the unit, a jet of steam will come out. It’s not quite on the scale of Old Faithful, but it’s still steam, and it’s still really really hot. When it has released enough pressure, you will hear the locking pin drop, and you will then be able to twist the lid and remove. There will still be steam inside the unit and a lot of moisture on the underside of the lid. Watch out for that and decide what you want to do with the dripping lid. Clean-up is a breeze, after the inner liner (which is the cooking pot) has cooled, pull it out and proceed to clean it with your favorite sponge, or dish washer.
It takes a few test runs to get seasoning your food right. With anything there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get it down you’ll be the talk of the town, or apt complex, dorm etc. Don’t be bummed out if you’re first few meals turn out bland, or so over seasoned the stray possum you found won’t eat it, just keep at it and you’ll find the touch.
Pro tip, if hot chocolate is your thing, particularly a variety with cinnamon, the instantpot will be your best friend. I went a little overkill when I tried making it, and I threw several sticks of cinnamon in the instant pot and cooked them at high pressure for about 30 minutes. I don’t mess around with Christmas time hot chocolate, and my go big or go home attitude paid off. I probably could have gotten away with 5 minutes at pressure, but hey I had some non-multitasker items to attend to.
The instant pot has definitely made cooking a safer, and more enjoyable activity, for me at least, and I would 100% recommend picking one up if you’re in the market for a 1 trillion in 1 appliance.
I’m sure the novelty of that popcorn maker would have justified the purchase, but man am I glad that app worked out.
As always, keep your fingers safe, so you can ask me questions and share my page to the instant pot less community. And seriously folks… the popcorn maker is legit, I got my mom one for her birthday. Win win.
***Bad news peeps. The bluetooth model of the instantpot was discontinued. There is a new model in the works so we shall see if it is accessible. July 10, 2018 ***. **** great news everyone! The instant pot is back and better than ever! It is now a wifi version in stead f bluetooth. I haven’t tried it, but have been tempted to get it. Here is. Link to it. If you pick one up, let me know how it is in the comments.***