My sister bought an electric pressure cooker two weeks ago. She cooked sweet potato curry, steel-cut oats, and polenta. “Yum, yum, and yum,” she said.
A couple of years ago, my husband wanted one. I didn’t. I liked cooking the old-fashioned way.
But my sister’s been sharing her excitement about cooking with it, along with photos of her pressure-cooked meals. She tells me it cooks fast.
My closed mind cracks. I babysit grandchildren and write. On days my grandchildren are with me, I cook breakfast and lunch, so I’ve no interest in spending more time cooking supper. On days my grandchildren aren’t with me, I catch up on my writing and don’t want to stop to cook supper.
“It was on sale and with my membership discount, I paid $60 for it,” my sister says.
“Could I get one for that price? Could you order it for me? I’ll send you a check.”
Fifteen minutes later, she texts me a picture of the completed order with Merry Christmas written across it, so nice.
Monday morning, I tell my husband my sister bought me an electric pressure cooker and it’s being delivered today. He’s excited. We hope it arrives early enough to use it to cook supper because we bought ingredients to make green chili soup.
It arrives at 4:00 p.m. Plenty of time.
I call my sister to thank her and get some beginner’s advice. “This appliance has more buttons than the jet you fly.”
“I don’t think so,” she says. She’s a pilot who flies people around in a private jet.
She answers my questions and hangs up.
A moment later my text alert chirps. She’s sent me a picture of the flight deck in the Falcon 900 she flies, with the caption, Pressure cooker on steroids. I concede because the instrument panel looks like someone took hundreds of buttons from the cookers and pasted them all over the inside of the cockpit.
I read the warnings and instructions provided in the two slim manuals. My sister has forewarned me the instructions need backup. She’s watched YouTube videos about using pressure cookers, so I watch a couple of short videos on getting started with the kitchen appliance that’s going to revolutionize my cooking time.
I call my sister, again.
“Hello, pressure-cooker hotline. How may I assist you today?”
“Did you do the test with the three cups of water?” I ask.
“Oh, yes,” she answers.
So, I do the water test and successfully cook three cups of water in my cooker. Next up, green chili soup.
The first step is to sauté the meat. I add one tablespoon of oil, push the sauté button, and add the meat. The meat is cooking, but it’s definitely not sauteing.
I’m nervous. I imagine the soup having to be scooped into the garbage as inedible. I once told a woman who complimented a meal I cooked for ten, marveling at how it all came together, “Cooking for dinner guests is my idea of bungy jumping.”
Turns out I was supposed to add the meat when the digital display said, Hot. Because I didn’t, the pot didn’t heat up properly. I shouldn’t have skipped the chart about the cooking options when I read the instructions. It’s not an irredeemable mistake. I make another jump at it, following the instructions, and sauté the next batch of meat with better results.
Before I start the pressure-cooking stage, I call my sister again.
“Yes,” she says, drawing the word out in a bemused manner, teasing me.
“This isn’t the professional hotline greeting I received earlier.” We both laugh.
“I’m making corn on the cob in my cooker,” she says.
“You’re light years ahead of me.”
“No, only a week and a half,” she counters.
“Remember, when I finally got an answering machine, and one of the family said, ‘I can’t believe the Waltons got an answering machine’?”
“Good point,” she says.
“I put all the ingredients in the pot before I push the pressure-cooker button, right?” I realized, considering how a pressure cooker works, it’s a dumb question, but the sauté phase left me in need of hand-holding.
“Oh, yes,” she answers, “and secure the lid too.”
I add the rest of the ingredients, secure the lid, and select the correct settings. I must wait thirty minutes to find out if this is going to be a thrilling bungy jump.
I wash dishes while I wait and realize I haven’t stopped once to stir, add ingredients, or adjust the heat. I chop cilantro and slice radishes for garnishes without interruption. The cooker is self-sufficient. I’m ecstatic. I actually have time to join my husband in the family room.
“It smells really good,” he says.
The cooker chimes. I quick release the pressure and wait for the float valve to descend, indicating it’s safe to remove the lid. I hold my breath for the final yank of my bungy jump.
The spicy smell of the tomatillo-based broth swirls out of the cooker. The green chili soup looks like the photo in the recipe magazine. Taste buds are sated.
After dinner I peruse the internet for Indian curry recipes. I’ve never had curry, but I’m in a daring mood. My cooker and I are taking our next bungy jump this weekend, and for an extra thrill we’ll be cooking a batch of rice a few hours before we whip up the curry