Sunday, March 14, 2021

That Machine on the Counter in the Corner, the Instantpot

 I like to cook and make meals for people. While I’m not much of a baker, I do like to try new meals and cook up the old standbys for my family. With 24 of us in the immediate family if all are here, it is like cooking for an army. And while that doesn’t happen every week, many of us do get together frequently and eat. 

I love my crock pot for cooking stuff in. I actually had to resort to having two crockpots when the family comes. And I like my huge church roaster for when it’s all of us and it is a chili and cornbread feed or spaghetti night. I’m kind of stuck in my ways for how to cook stuff. It usually consists of chopping, slicing, dicing ,sautéing and throwing it in the crockpot or oven.

About a year ago I got an Instantpot, one of those fancy pressure cooking, sautéing, yogurt making machines that everyone was saying was the best thing since the crock pot. The Instantpot, or that machine in the corner on the counter as I called it, sat for about a year without much action. I tried rice and while it turned out just fine, it was just as easy making it in a pot on the stove.

I tried a few recipes specifically made for the Instantpot and what the picture looked like in the recipe and what actually came out of my Instantpot didn’t even come close to looking alike. While the photo of the recipe resembled a beautiful golden brown shiny glazed piece of pork nestled in a bed of fluffy rice, mine wound up looking more like something I emptied out of a colostomy bag back in my younger days as a nurse at the nursing home. Kind of like globs of mushy rice clinging to a clump of half cooked meat. It wasn’t pretty and while it tasted adequate enough, it really wasn’t pretty. .

And the process of putting it together was way more work than it was to dig out a kettle, get out the electric skillet and cook up the same meal with the results being that it would look a million times more appealing. The Instantpot, on the other hand, was supposed to make the prepping go into one lone pot and cook. Try as I might, I never can get it looking like something you’d want to eat….even our dogs gave it a stare and walked away.

But determined to become proficient at it, I muddled through a few more recipes and tried to make it work. I’d throw the stuff in the pot, set it to cook, put the pressure release thingy to pressure cook and stand back to watch. 9 times out of 10, nothing happened the first few minutes. I would hear it gurgle a little and steam would start to rise out of the release valve even though it was set to not release. So I would fiddle with the valve thing to make it stop steaming and eventually it would stop. I just recently found out it is supposed to give off a little steam before it settles down and holds the steam in. 

So after the minutes went by that was supposed to magically cook the ingredients the timer went off. Now for the scalding. I have yet to figure out how to release all that steam without scalding my hand or worse yet, steaming my cabinets and wrecking the finish on them. I have never had so much fear in cooking in my life as I do with using the Instantpot when it is time to release the pressure. So it went back to its corner on the counter for a few more months until my son showed me his airfryer. He made great stuff like fried pickles, onion rings, fries. They all tasted great and much less oil used. It had to be healthier.

I saw a youtube posting about how Instantpots now can be used as an airfryer. All that was needed was an air fryer lid for my thing that sits in the corner of the counter. I love Amazon, because if you don’t like it, you return it. So not a huge amount of money if it doesn’t work out.

I ordered the air fryer lid, it came and I have tried a few things with it so far. Chicken wings turned out good, but I could have just set them on a sheet and popped them in the oven. Onion Rings the batter came off the onions and they were mushy. I am convinced I will never find an onion ring compared to the ones I got as a kid from Porky's in St Paul. Nothing will ever compare to them. And I am continuously let down ever time I try onion rings. Air fried apple sli ces were good, but again could have made a ton more just by using a cookie sheet. It actually took more time doing it the air fryer way instead of putting them on a cookie sheet. I wound up doing 4 batches in the airfryer to get the same amount as on a cookie sheet. I haven’t found anything that the air fryer can do better than an oven and a cookie sheet. I have watched a bunch of YouTube videos on how to use the Instantpot, and how to use the air fryer part of it….and while the directions are great…mine still always looks like something from a 1940’s military rations bag. I am thinking I am just not cut out for cooking simply with the Instantpot. I would rather dig out the pots and pans and do it the old fashioned way. After all, I have a great better half that cleans up the kitchen after the tornado (as he has called me) tears through it.

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