I am not a gourmet chef.
That’s probably for the best, considering I don’t have the most sophisticated tastes, nor do I have the budget to experiment with exotic ingredients.
A quick look at my pantry shelves at any given time reveals a box of generic breakfast cereal, several packages of Top Ramen, a half-eaten loaf of bread, some bagels that were on sale and a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese — and that’s only if I’ve been to the supermarket fairly recently.
Throw in the fact that I work odd hours during the school year, and not only do I have a lack of ingredients to cook — I have a lack of energy and desire to do so, either.
But, a man’s got to eat at some point, right? And I can’t survive solely on stale bagels and potato chips, either.
That’s where I need a little help from modern technology.
I live with two other people who actually do work normal hours. That means when I come home from a soccer game, they’re in the kitchen making their own dinner and using the only oven/range in the house. If I come home from a volleyball or football game, they’re trying to wind down, so I don’t want to make too much noise and interrupt their opportunity to rest for their busy days ahead.
Enter, the electric pressure cooker.
It’s about the easiest kitchen appliance in human history, and one even I can’t mess up. That should be enough of a selling point right there.
You throw all the ingredients in the pot at the same time (or close enough), close the lid, set the timer and walk away. The timer goes off, you open the pressure vent (possibly causing a small geyser to erupt in the process), open the lid, stir it up and serve.
It’s also certainly a better and more cost-effective way to cook for one person than, say, eating frozen pizza every day.
I can make spaghetti in my pressure cooker and have enough leftovers for four days. A pot of beans that would normally take several hours to cook now takes 45 minutes. Soups and stews are a breeze.
When I first got my pressure cooker, one of my roommates was terrified of it. As a homeowner, she’d seen the pictures online of exploded pressure cookers, with the lid having lodged itself in the ceiling and the entire kitchen coated in a layer of chili.
It took some convincing for her to allow me to use it indoors, instead of having to go out on the patio in the dead of winter for fear of a green chile stew bomb going off in the house.
It wasn’t until last Christmas that I got my own pressure cooker, despite its use in so many traditional Mexican dishes that I’ve seen my family make over the years.
A pot of tamales? Beans? Stew? The difference was theirs were the traditional stove-top model — the very kind that causes fear in people’s roommates/landlords.
The new electronic kind is much safer. The only dangers are if you forget the inner liner, which can lead to ruining the internal wiring with liquid or rice, or if you drop it and break the lid, or, as online groups have displayed, you somehow forget that it’s electronic and you put it on the stove with the burner on anyway.
Somehow, I’ve avoided any of these mistakes. It’s a good thing, too. Another night of macaroni and cheese doesn’t really appeal to me.
Darren Vaughan is the sports editor for the Transcript Bulletin. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.