Friday, December 2, 2011

Under Pressure

Happy Friday Folks!

Today I'd like to introduce you to my friend Jill again. She's the brilliant and wonderful creator of two recent recipes here on HGK, Roasted Swiss Peas with Swiss Chard and Jill's Smashing Black Beans.

Jill is one of my friends that I feel comfortable with spending a lot of time talking about food. She's got two very active kids and one triathalete husband to feed (you'll find out more about Jill soon, as I've asked her to submit her Plant-strong story), and she is deeply committed to doing that well (read "no fast food" and lotsa home cooked meals).

One thing that has come up a lot in conversation recently is pressure cooking. I myself bought a pressure cooker last spring, but haven't even had the time to blog about it! So I've asked Jill to help me out on this one. Here's what she has to say . . .

Under Pressure
By Jill K

I am in the honeymoon phase with my pressure cooker. Granted, we've only been together about a month. After almost a year of practicing a plant strong diet (80% of the time) and eating canned beans all the time, I started to wonder whether it would be healthier, tastier and more economical to buy dry beans and cook them from scratch.

I bought dry black beans. It took eight hours to soak the beans and another two hours to cook them until they got tender. Then I still had to season and cook them a bit longer. Were they good? They were delicious! But, I did NOT want 2 1/2 hours of my day to consist of bean making.

My good friend Erica, from Brazil, turned me onto the pressure cooker. She said that beans are a staple food in her culture, and that everyone there cooks them in a pressure cooker. She never uses canned beans. Then she made me a batch of her pinto beans. Wow, they were outstanding!

I started researching PC's and was actually pretty scared to get one because I read about how they can be dangerous and how they used to explode 20 years ago. They are much safer nowadays, by the way. I also wondered if it would eventually be banished to my island of un-used kitchen appliances, like my slow cooker and my bread maker.

I bought the Kuhn Rikon Duromatic model from Sur La Table and love it! It is not hard to use, and it is completely safe, (assuming you follow the directions). I have made beans in it multiple times. Two nights ago, I made black beans. I still soaked them ahead of time, but they cooked perfectly in 25- 30 minutes. The taste blows away the canned varieties. However, in a pinch, I will still use the canned stuff.

I know that I can cook lots of things in it, other than beans but haven't gotten that far yet. I'll let you know how the relationship progresses.
Tip: Instead of draining the liquid when the beans are done, boil gently with the top off to reduce it, and it thickens up nicely.

Thanks Jill! You've inspired me to get my pressure cooker down from the shelf again. I know I'm ready to move on from beans, but I don't quite know what to do next.

Anyone over here using a pressure cooker successfully? What are your favorite things to do with it? Please provide links to your recipes or recipes that you have tried.

Have a superfantastic weekend! Back on Monday with "So You Just Read Eat to Live and (Fill in the Blank)."
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