I admit it. A couple of years ago, when a friend was waxing poetic about the virtues of pressure cooking, I was skeptical. Shortly after the second or third conversation on the topic in a short space of time, I came across Lorna Sass’s “Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure” at the Lantern (used bookshop). Seeing it as a sign, I bought the book and a pressure cooker (an Aeternum — pricey, but sturdy and easy to use).
What I like best about the pressure cooker is that it cuts the cooking time of beans or soup from 1-3 hours to 20-35 minutes. Kitcheree (indian rice and lentils) cooks in 15 minutes. I’d estimate that in the two and half years I’ve had my cooker, I have saved over 200 hours of cooking with gas time. Not sure how much cooking gas I’ll have to save before I’ve made up for the energy to manufacture and ship the pot to me, but I should cross that at some point in the life of the pot. Even better is that I can come home after a full day at work and cook dishes with dried beans or slow to cook grains without staying up all night.
Once you put the cooking ingredients in the pot, get it up to pressure, turn down the flame, and set the timer, there is no need to watch the pot. So today, for lunch, with only about five or ten minutes of prep time, I have rice (with saffron and amaranth made in the rice cooker) and pot beans (coco rubico from the Dupont Farm market, seasoned with celery, onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, dried chiles brought back from Tucson, and dried bay leaf, epazote, and mexican oregano from my own garden). Start to finish about a half hour (I did presoak the beans). Able to continue working except for the minor prep time. Wonderfully content to have nourishing, delicious food to warm and inspire my day. I do better work (I do work better) when I eat well.