Pressure Cooker Revolution

May 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm Leave a comment

It may sound dramatic, but my pressure cooker changed my life.

I self-identify as a “reduced meat consumer.” For ethical reasons I have chosen not to buy meat. (Ok, I cheat from time to time. We’ll buy fish on occasion). I never reject food that someone else has prepared for me, especially in cross-cultural situations. However, when I’m cooking in my home, the food is almost exclusively vegetarian. Nuts and beans are the primary source of protein in our household.

For years, we’ve had bags of dry beans in the pantry. I can remember my though process at the grocery store when I bought them. “I hate having to buy so many cans of beans. Dry beans are cheaper to buy, and it cuts down considerably on waste. They don’t have all the added sodium either. I should cook dry beans more often! In fact, I’m going to start right now.”

I resolutely grab a bag or two off the shelf. I bring them home and put them in the pantry along with all of my great ambitions. Ambitions must be like a wine that gets better with age, because the beans usually sat unopened in the pantry for months upon months.

The problem with dried beans is that cooking them requires an inordinate amount of foresight. Ideally, they soak  overnight, then simmer for 2 hours until tender. It’s entirely impractical. I can cook, eat and do the dishes in 2 hours. I don’t have that kind of patience. Furthermore, I inevitably forget to soak them the night before. Sure, some legumes cook quicker than others. Lentils used to be a staple for this reason, but after a while I got tired of lentils. Lentils also don’t substitute for black beans or chick peas well at all.

Alas, I resigned myself to buying canned beans.

Until my wife met a family from the Middle East. They cooked beans all the time in a pressure cooker. “And it only takes like 15 minutes!” wifey exclaimed. (An exaggeration perhaps, but not an egregious one). So we asked for a pressure cooker for Christmas.

It revolutionized my world.

Skip the 12 hours of soaking and 2 hours of simmering. My pressure cooker cooks beans in 30 minutes. Even gigantic fava beans only take about 45 minutes. Brown rice cooks in 20.

Now those abandoned bags in the back of the cupboard are getting consumed in a timely fashion. We even started buying beans in bulk (15 lbs., last time).

The pressure cooker should be a vital part of the vegetarian’s kitchen. If you don’t have one, get one asap.

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Entry filed under: Ethics, Methods, Thoughts on Food. Tags: , , , .

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