Monday, November 24, 2008

Pressure Cooker versus Slow Cooker

As you well know, I am a big fan of the pressure cooker and not at all a fan of the slow cooker (the one I have was my grandmother's and see has been gone 20 years), although I do believe that for some people the slow cooker can do the job well.

I was reading a blog post about the pressure cooker vs. slow cooker here This woman uses her cooker and understands the benefits. So rather than me go on and on about it, I'll let Fiona do it.

She also lists some pressure cooker recipes. Despite the fact that she is a fan of Miss Vickie's, I will attribute that to the fact that my pressure cooking book is not yet in the world. She also mentions Lorna Sass who is my pressure cooking mentor.

If you don't or can't plan your meals hours in advance, and want great tasting food, then get yourself a modern pressure cooker, and start using it. It will change your cooking life but as with all other things in life, there are no guarantees.

I will promise you,, though, that I will help guide you through the process, if you need me to. You can email me at

Saturday, November 22, 2008

People No Longer Feel Under Pressure with a Pressure Cooker

The past 2 Saturday mornings at the farmer's market have been pure joy for me. Right at the beginning of shopping, I have connected with people regarding pressure cookers. I had not even started shopping last week when K., a student from my class 2 days earlier, saw me. She told me that she'd used her pressure cooker to make soup and it was fabulous.

Just a few minutes later while I was buying Satsuma mandarin tangerines, another woman who I don't know by name but have seen at the market often, told me that she bought a Fagor set on sale at Macy's and just loves it. Wow, and it only gets better.

The same thing pretty much happened today. Now maybe this has something to do with my being on KRCB (public) radio's show Mouthful last Sunday but other people told me that their fear of the pressure cooker has subsided.

K. said that she'd used her cooker quite a number of times since last week, and that she is no longer afraid. Yippeee.

Mari told me that I haven't seen her on Saturday mornings because she's now doing yoga at that time (I guess that she had today off.). She credits the yoga and using her pressure cooker as methods for relieving the stress in her life, and making life bearable. (I hope that it's more than that.) Mari did ask about cooking broccoli and how long it takes. Just a minute with a quick release, I told her.

But Amy, who sent me an email message yesterday, said that her husband loves her 2-minute pressure cooked broccoli and he hadn't been a big broccoli fan. He likes it because it doesn't taste sulfury. Amy told me that she is making lots of other food in her cooker, too. Healthier eating, the quick and easy way, I say, and Amy agrees.

And after I left the market today I drove to another store. As I was walking to the entrance, a woman stopped me and said that she'd taken a pressure cooking class with me at Santa Rosa Junior College. I think that was more than 10 years ago, and was a one time class. But she told me that she'd heard me on the radio, and gone out and bought a pressure cooker. She's using it and loving it because it saves her so much time and energy.

And if I can help anyone relieve the pressure in their life and eat healthier, I am just thrilled. Today, I am beaming. I hope that you'll think about using a pressure cooker -- no pressure, no fear.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Veggie Queen Reviews the Fissler Pressure Cooker

I have been so excited about trying my new Fissler 4 1/2 quart pressure cooker but have not had the time. I have been busy teaching. But I have some time now that I can do it.

I have run a few tests on it but have to compare it to the others that I have. I wouldn't really make it as a scientist as I am a bit more creative than most of them. Instead of starting with the water test, I started by cooking in it.

First, let me say that if heft is a positive criteria, then the Fissler cooker wins in that department. It feels like the heaviest, most durable cooker of any that I own. But for some people, that's not such a great thing. It does get extra points for good looks and design -- very pleasing.

The special waffled interior surface is interesting. It might work very well for searing meat or browning chicken breasts but as a vegetarian or vegan, the dimples don't seem to serve much purpose, at least not to me.

So, I cooked my braised tofu, potato and vegetable dish, same as I always do. And I did have different results. When I opened the pot after 2 minutes of cooking the potatoes and tofu, the tofu looked good. I added the greens and green beans and cooked another minute at pressure. When I opened the pot, the resulting dish was a bit more overcooked than usual, with the potatoes turning mushy, and the green beans just a bit overcooked. I ate the dish anyway.

After cleaning the pot, which was a breeze, I did the water test in it. It took more than 3 minutes to reach pressure which is about 1 minute longer than most of the other cookers. This really is not a big deal. More important is that the pressure release takes a bit longer than with the other cookers. And most important is that after coming to pressure and doing a quick release, 2 of the 8 ounces of water was lost. As I usually use very little liquid in my vegetable recipes, this could be important.

I am going to ponder what else to make in this beautifully designed heavy cooker to see how it performs on a regular basis. Watch for Part 2 of this post.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Transforming Your Recipes for The Pressure Cooker

Transforming your recipes from stove top cooking to pressure cooking is fairly easy. First, your original recipe must have some kind of liquid in it, as that is what will get your cooker to pressure. The pressure cooker is best for soup, stew, chili, braises and mock stir-fries, as well as beans, grains and vegetables. I feel like an expert in the latter since I do this very often with whatever local produce I have available.

Yesterday I cooked colored cauliflower and purple and yellow potatoes with carrots. I used only about 2/3 of a cup of stock (made easily earlier in just 5 minutes at pressure), and there was plenty of liquid to get to pressure plus a bit left over which gets absorbed by the potatoes as the dish sits. I don't like my veggie dishes to be watery but sometimes it happens. If it does, you can remove the vegetables and cook down the remaining liquid.

When reducing the liquid, you use less but how much less truly depends upon what you are cooking. When I cook presoaked beans, I use only 1/2 cup per 1 cup of soaked beans. In my tofu braises, I only use about 1/4 cup of liquid. Obviously for soup, it really doesn't matter much. Just remember that most cookers don't lose a lot of liquid in cooking, and if you are adding vegetables that release water, that will add to the liquid as nothing boils away.

Pressure cooking is a great way to cook. If you have any questions, you can always shoot me an email at I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pressure Cooking to Relieve the Pressure in the Kitchen

It's been a long time since I've posted here. I have been wanting to write about the Fissler pressure cooker but first needed to finish up a bunch of non-pressure cooking projects which only happen in the fall when it's harvest time. You can read to see what else I've been up to -- lots of drying, making, putting away.

So, finally I unpacked the Fissler from the box and I am contemplating what tests I should put it through. I may just do one of my standard recipes to see what happens but first I always start with water. This way I can get a feel for what the cooker can do. Then, I'll get going on food.

Since I just cooked a big pot of black beans and another of brown basmati rice in some of my other cookers, I don't need to repeat those dishes. I've baked tofu twice in the past 2 days for 2 different Halloween parties but some braised tofu would be just fine. So, watch for the next post which will be the review.