Pressure’s on to use Instant Pot

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Let me preface this confession by saying my husband is a very thoughtful gift giver. Sure, his gifts tend toward kitchen gadgetry, and their might be a slight ulterior motive in his selections since he likes to dabble with cooking, but that’s perfectly fine with me. It’s the thought that counts.

Nearly two years ago he bought me an Instant Pot for my birthday, well before these all-in-one devices had even caught on with the cooking masses. I’m ashamed to say it’s still sitting in the box, unused. These cooking pots do it all. They saute, steam, slow cook and pressure cook. Apparently there’s nothing this device can’t do.

“Gonna use your Instant Pot this weekend?” my husband has inquired on numerous occasions.

“Yep, I pulled out the directions and I’m thinking I’ll start with something simple, maybe rice or grits,” I usually offer.

Lies – all lies on my part. Yes, I have pulled out the manual many times. It’s sitting on my counter right now. But I have yet to make a single thing in my Instant Pot. Just when I was feeling like the biggest ingrate of all time, I ran across a Wall Street Journal article title “America’s Instant-Pot Anxiety: ‘I said a prayer and stayed the hell away.’” The story by Ellen Byron points out that fear of Instant Pots is a real thing, largely because of its pressure-cooker capacity. She wrote about an elementary school teacher who bought one and returned it unopened because it was “too scary, too complicated … so many buttons.”

And Ms. Byron detailed the Instant Pot user who didn’t account for the expansion quality of barley and had beef-barley soup shooting everywhere across her kitchen.

It became clear to me I wasn’t alone in my fear of pressure cookers. My mom used one to can vegetables, but she instilled a deep-seated fear in us that the contraption could blow up at any moment, so we’d better stay out of the kitchen. I think this is where my mental block began.

As I looked online I discovered I’m not alone. An Illinois housewife with a blog called “This Farm Girl Cooks” acknowledged she also had a terrible case of “Instant Pot Fear.” She, too, was scared she’d blow up the kitchen, but eventually overcame her fear. Once she tried her Instant Pot, “everything turned out fine.”

As added encouragement, my husband gave me “The Instant Pot Cookbook” for Christmas. It’s sitting on the counter alongside the instruction manual. I suggested we should learn to use it together; there’s safety in numbers after all.

I also stumbled upon an Instant Pot Facebook group with SOS comments like “Help!” “Crap!” and “What do I do now?” More therapy to help me overcome this irrational fear.

Maybe this will be the weekend I will finally try my Instant Pot. The recipes in my new cookbook look delicious. The spiced coconut chicken and rice sounds particularly appealing. The Illinois housewife suggested starting at the very beginning.

“Start with something simple, like cooking water… and work your way up from there,” she advised. “You can do this.”

There’s a lot of pressure riding on this, no pun intended. I intend to use my Instant Pot very soon; well, pretty soon. Maybe after the snow melts.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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