REDISCOVERING PRESSURE COOKERS

Recently, my daughter-in-law and I were at Kohl’s, enjoying a big sale and our 30% off all purchases coupons…and while I did shop for some birthday presents, I quite naturally migrated to the department for kitchen small appliances and accessories for cooking. I watched two women, one on the floor with all the packaging from a pressure cooker on her lap, the other standing over her chatting in a language I didn’t recognize.

“Have you ever used a pressure cooker?” I asked. The standing woman responded for her. No, they had not.

“They’re really wonderful” I said “You can cook a tri tip roast in it in less than an hour—it’s a great appliance for working mothers when they come home from working all day and have to get dinner on the table to feed a hungry family..” As I walked away I thought about MY pressure cookers (because I have two) and how often used it even now, with the children grown and gone and just two of us eating dinner most nights.

And while, back in the day, pressure cooker manufacturers included with the cooker a booklet of instructions and some recipes—pressure cookers have come a long way in the last couple of decades. For one thing, they are virtually “fool proof”. I’ve known people who said they would never own one, because they’d heard about pressure cookers exploding. And maybe that did happen in the early years of pressure cooking but the new ones are so easy to use—and I doubt there’s any chance of one of the new ones exploding.

Well, I’d like to share some information about some of the pressure cooker cookbooks in my own collection.

“PRESSURE COOKERS FOR DUMMIES,” published by Hungry Minds, Inc., in 2002, is another reference book in the long list of “…for Dummies” publications you have surely seen on the shelves of your favorite bookstores. The soft cover books have a distinctive black and yellow cover. “PRESSURE COOKERS FOR DUMMIES”, by Tom Lacalamita starts out with beginning chapters devoted to an explanation how your pressure cooker works, and separating fact from fiction, dispelling the myths and tracing the history of pressure cookers. “If ever there were a housewares product that was misunderstood and under-utilized in American kitchens,” states the author, “it would, without a doubt, be the pressure cooker…” Lacalamita explains exactly how this misunderstanding came about and how it still affects American homes – and he dispels the myths surrounding pressure cookers. I have to tell you, I have been cooking regularly with a pressure cooker for over twenty years. A few years ago, I bought a new one and at the same time bought pressure cookers for my sons and their families (I don’t think any of the wives use them the way I do to this day, however). My Aunt Dolly cooked with a pressure cooker that she had for something like forty years.

“PRESSURE COOKERS FOR DUMMIES” provides detailed explanations of the history of pressure cooking and how to get the most from your pressure cooker. He also provides contact information of some of the best-known pressure cooker manufacturers today.

There are quite a lot of recipes in “PRESSURE COOKERS FOR DUMMIES” with detailed information and directions. Once you start using a pressure cooker, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one. This is really a time saving device for today’s busy housewives and mothers. I can cook a tri-tip roast in my pressure cooker in about an hour…and it will be absolutely fork tender.
“PRESSURE COOKERS FOR DUMMIES” by Tom Lacalamita is available from Amazon.com new for $9.66 and used starting at $7.75. Alibris didn’t have any copies available and Barnes & Noble’s internet site offers the book new for $9.66 and used starting a $8.19. In any case, all of the prices are less than the original price when the book was first published.

Tom Lacalamita is also the coauthor of “SLOW COOKERS FOR DUMMIES” and “BREAD MACHINES FOR DUMMIES”. ISBN# for “PRESSURE COOKERS FOR DUMMIES” is IBSN 0-7645-5413-1.

Another cookbook author whose work I have admired for a long time is Lorna Sass. Lorna Sass, Ph.D, is a culinary historian and a Jams Beard Award winning author of several cookbooks, including Pressure Perfect and the Pressured Cook. She has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, magazines such as Bon Appetit, Prevention, and Woman’s Day.

Dr. Sass’ cookbooks first came to my attention some years ago when I was working on an article about food and cooking during medieval times for the Cookbook Collectors Exchange. It was then that someone sent me two of Lorna Sass’ books, written for the Metropolitan Museum of Art—one “To The Queen’s Taste” and the other “To the King’s Taste.

Today, however, we’re on the subject of pressure cookers and I wanted to mention Lorna Sass’ cookbook “The Pressured Cook” first published in 1999 by William Morrow and Company. Along with detailed information on the use of a pressure cooker, Dr. Sass provides a treasury of recipes, in a format that is a bit of a departure from many other cookbooks. First you will find all of the recipes using BEEF, followed by a section on CHICKEN AND TURKEY, then PORK AND SAUSAGE, followed by LAMB, then VEAL, and FISH AND SEAFOOD, then BEANS and lastly, GRAINS AND VEGETALES. These are all under a heading of One-Pot Meals in Minutes. There is a chapter on Desserts, and then the most helpful directory – a guide to ingredients, mail order sources, a directory of pressure cooker manufacturers, and finally “troubleshooting”

“The Pressured Cook” (subtitled over 75 one-pot meals in minutes, made in today’s 100% safe Pressure Cookers) is one of four cookbooks Lorna Sass has written on this topic. She is also the author of “Cooking Under Pressure”, “Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure” and “Pressure Perfect”

Amazon.com has “The Pressured Cook” new, at $16.31. You can also buy a copy (new but from private Amazon vendors) starting at $6.57 OR they have 67 pre-owned copies starting at $1.77.

Alibris.com has a wide variety of cookbooks by Lorna Sass; for example, Cooking Under Pressure starts at $2.18, Pressure Perfect at $11.29 and the Pressured Cook at $1.77. They have a very good selection of other cookbooks by Lorna Sass as well.

Lorna Sass is also the author of the following:
• To the King’s taste: Richard II’s book of feasts and recipes adapted for modern Cooking
• Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure
• Cooking under Pressure
• Whole Grains: Every day, Every way
• To the Queen’s Taste (Elizabethan Feasts and Recipes Adapted for Modern Cooking
• Pressure Perfect: Two Hour Taste in Twenty Minutes Using Your Pressure Cooker
• Lorna Sass’ Complete Vegetarian Kitchen: Where Good Flavors and Good Health Meet (Formerly titled “Recipes from an Ecological Kitchen”)
• The New Vegan Cookbook: Innovative Vegetarian Recipes Free of Dairy, Eggs, and Cholesterol
• Lorna Sass’ Short-Cut Vegetarian: Great Taste in No Time
• Christmas Feasts (Great American cooking schools)
• New Soy Cookbook : Tempting Recipes for Soybeans, Soy Milk, Tofu, Tempeh, Miso, and Soy Sauce
• Dinner With Tom Jones: Eighteenth-Century Cookery Adapted for the Modern Kitchen
• Whole Grains for Busy People: Fast, Flavor-Packed Meals and More for Everyone
• Short-Cut Vegan: Great Taste in No Time
• Vega !
• In Search of the Perfect Meal: A Collection of the Best food Writings of Roy Andries De Groot (Selected and Edited)

If you are a busy mother/wife/career woman…and aren’t we all? You might find a pressure cooker a solution to preparing good meals in under an hour. Check them out the next time you are out shopping and see what manufacturers have been doing to make our lives a little easier in the kitchen.

Happy Cooking and Happy Cookbook Collecting!

Sandy

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7 responses to “REDISCOVERING PRESSURE COOKERS

  1. u have once again inspired me. I have never cooked with a pressure cooker and am now anxious to try it. i will now be in search of a pressure cooker i can afford. thank you for the inspiration.

  2. Sandy, you may just inspire me to finally get a pressure cooker. I especially like the fool-proof part, because I am one of those who has been rather afraid to use such a device. I don’t recall my mother having any disasters with hers, so I am not quite sure where that fear came from.

    Another push in that direction is the seeming popularity of pressure cookers in India. In fact, I may look for one in an Indian shop first.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Jean B.

  3. Gerri Anderson

    U R rite Sandy, us oldsters do remember Pressure Cookers as being’ those things that blow-up’. It was interesting to read your comments on what they R like today, but I think @ this stage in life I have enuf appliances to keep me going. I enjoy my Slow Cooker which I guess is the total reverse of a Pressure Cooker.

  4. I guess I would be considered a youngster, relatively speaking, but I do recall where the pressure cooker stigma came from for myself; watching an episode of I Love Lucy with the chicken and rice fiasco. Regardless though, I was in Bed Bath and Beyond doing Christmas shopping and came across one on sale for $15 and curiosity/frugality prevailed and I have to say I don’t know how these arent an absolute staple of kitchen appliances, especially with the short attention spans of today! Thanks for the article and bringing these little gems back onto some of our radars.

    • Thanks for writing. I began cooking with a pressure cooker maybe about 30 years ago–I dont remember my mother ever having one–and you are right; if people would just invest in one (and there are many to choose from) they would be so happy with it; back when I was working, I could get almost anything cooked in an hour after getting home from work. I really love this kitchen tool!

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