WIAW 118 Experimenting!
I hear there are sugar snap peas at Greenmarket today, for the first time…
As I told you last week, I’ve been working with new things, both for the blog itself, and new cooking techniques. I expect the newsletter to debut Saturday… There may be some further tweaking, but I have the basic working model, so keep an eye out for it!
Also – there is a glitch someplace in the signup process. I suspect that some people who are signing up do not receive the confirmation email, and are therefore not being added to the list. (For your protection, I use a double opt in system – I do not want anyone to sign up by accident!) Now, I know perfectly well that some of you signed up and then (looking at an already crowded email inbox) thought better of it – and that’s fine. But the percentage seems high…
So – if you do sign up, make sure you find and reply to the confirmation email. If you thought you had, but have not heard anything, just sign up again. If you have any problems, please contact me, I’d be delighted to help. And I apologize for this – I should have realized there was a problem sooner.
And I hope you all enjoy the newsletter!
My other primary experiment has been with the electric pressure cooker. I got it last Fall – I sort of looked at it, and read about them, for a few months – I tried it a few times. Now, I’ve moved some things in the kitchen to give it a home on the counter, so I can start to use it routinely. It seems very promising for the basic, everyday grains and beans I cook in bulk, and – well – read on…
I did not use the pressure cooker for breakfast. Not that I might not… I totally see porridge in it, next winter… But this time, I just threw together cheesy eggs and tortillas. (This usually means that I’m in a hurry, or I’m busy, or I’m out of both cooked beans for refritos and corn muffin mix… yeah. I’m supposed to Plan. Oh, well…)
It’s finally salad season! Lettuce, and scallions, and radishes… More will come, but this gets me started… Then I did the approach I described last week – the Protein Flip. Chick peas, cooked in the pressure cooker and then marinated in a little vinegar, and hard cooked eggs.
You can’t start researching pressure cookers without reading about how incredibly good they are for hard cooking eggs. This was my first attempt. It’s all true… This is an electric cooker, so I just set it and let it run, I don’t have to fiddle with getting and keeping the temperature right, and I don’t have to time things obsessively. They came out as well as the ones I’ve always made, and peeled like a dream. I know how I’m going to hard cook eggs…
And for once I remembered to take a picture of my cracker/grain accompaniment… These are an experiment of a different kind – a commercial cracker made with sweet potatoes. They’re… um… fine? Perfectly pleasant, I’ll get them occasionally for variety, nothing exciting. I really need to make crackers… (And I really need to not take a picture of an orange brown cracker in a glass bowl sitting on a warm brown desk. In general, my attention seems to have been – um – not on my pictures, this week – sorry…)
I didn’t even realize I’d done the Mostly Pressure Cooker Day until I put the pictures together, because the beans and eggs had been cooked a few days earlier. I did do an All Pressure Cooker Dinner on purpose, though… I’m working with the PIP – Pan in Pot – method. I have a few stainless bowls that fit in the cooker, so I put food and sufficient water in the bowl, and enough water to boil for the pressure in the base. (I first read about that method for beans and grains in Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappé, but I see other people doing it now – the name is recent, as far as I can tell.) One thing that means is that I can cook grain in a bowl, pull the bowl out, and use the cooker for something else without having to wash it between.
So I did the millet. Now, I’ve noticed that comparison of time is often misleading – they don’t count the time to come up to pressure, and when you use a natural pressure release, they often don’t count that time either. Honestly, the millet (which cooks quickly) took about the same time in the cooker as in a pan – but I didn’t have to pay attention to it, and that’s worth something.
So then I pulled out the bowl, covered it, and dropped in a small chicken. Yes, ideally you would brown it first, that would be nicer, at this point I’m going for simplest, most basic, I can do this even if I feel terrible cooking… I just chucked it in, with a sprig of rosemary. I find little consensus about timing – and this, while cooked enough for safety and all, and nice and moist, could have used another minute or two for tenderness… Note for another time. When it was cooked, I lifted the chicken out, dropped in a strainer with frozen green beans – and I won’t do that again. We like most green vegetables underdone, by the standards of many people, and I usually just heat up frozen vegetables – they’re already cooked, to my taste. Even the shortest possible time overcooked them, to our taste. Well – it was an experiment…
One of these days I’ll feel confident enough about the pressure cooker to write you all an Actual Recipe – but that’s going to take a while. It’s a whole new world, for me… But this is So Much Easier than the stovetop one I had years ago!
So my pressure cooker, and newsletter, and I are dancing over to Laura’s (with her grill…) for Jenn’s What I Ate Wednesday Party! (I have an indoor grill on a high shelf out of the way. I may need to get that down and use it… Or find it a new home and just keep using the stovetop grill pan – it’s easier than finding counter space in this kitchen!)
And I hope you’ll all join the mailing list and get the newsletter!