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Dithering, decisions, delight.

A long and particularly satisfying break, my spoonfullies. M and I had a happy sojourn in Aotearoa and now I’m back with a head full of brains full of ideas and shoes full of feet.

I was going to have a bit of a blog-chat about all the things I learned and thought about while away — there’s a lot, there always is when I’m travelling MY GOD HOW I LOVE IT — but I think I’ll kick off by talking about a new acquisition.

Now, if you’ve spent any time with me, you’ll know I can drone on for weeks and weeks about acquisitions. I am very anti-acquisition. I am generally anti-possession, not in any fundamental All Property Is Theft way, but in a kind of I Hate Having a House Full Of Crap kind of way. When I visit people with overstuffed houses I get itchy and rude. Add to this my charming indecision and you’ve got potentially weeks of dithering. I first thought a pressure cooker might be useful when I learned how fast they make dried legumes into undried legumes. (VERY.) That was quite some time ago. Among the many things I thought about while we were away was the benefits of owning a pressure cooker.

We ordered this:

INTENSE SAUCEPAN

INTENSE SAUCEPAN

Which is a Scanpan 6L pressure cooker for the stovetop, from Kitchenware Direct, which was about $135 with free shipping. We ordered it from NZ, and it arrived the day we got home. Yay synchronicity!

So, what have we been cooking with it? EVERYTHING. Like any new thing, my immediate impulse is to try to make everything in it, and I shy away from meals that don’t require it, like breakfast cereal. I also want to take it in the bath with me and take it to work with me and fall asleep cuddling it while whispering sweet pressurised nothings.

Beans: that’s where it’s at. Beans beans beans. If you’re a veggo (as we am) and you love your beans like you should, you’ll immediately see the benefit. If you’ve ever disliked the gummy juice that tinned chickpeas come in, you’ll know where I’m coming from. Dried beans are great — cheap, long-lasting, and eventually delicious — but you’ve got to plan ahead and that is sometimes just not on. Instead of several hours of boiling, beans are now ready in less than an hour, and that makes me a damned happy bethini. Don’t get me started on how much less energy and water it uses.

After we stopped arguing about who got to play with it next, I made soup. I love soup, especially with beans, so it seemed like an obvious thing to do. You put everything in pot, bring to pressure, and boil. Then soup! I was feeling fancy, so:

Bookay!

Bookay!

Bouquet garni, bitches. Sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, tied together with a lovable piece of rustic-type string.

Plus beans.

Plus beans.

Also beans. Almost immediately after I took this picture I realised that the beans would take so much longer to cook that everything would be pulverised by the time they were done, and that it’s best to change the water between pre-boiling and cooking your beans. So I fished the beans out. All of them. Yes. And gave them a quick boil in separate water before throwing them back in the pressure cooker and commencing soupification! Thing Learned One: next time, I’ll pressure-boil the beans, change the water, then add the rest of the ingredients and proceed with souping, thus only using one pot.

Once it reached boiling, the soup took about 20 minutes. TWENTY MINUTES, Y’ALL. Thing Learned Two: when pressure cooking, you lose nothing. What goes in, stays in. If, for example, you add vastly too much water, you will end up with a watery soup because it doesn’t steam away while it’s reaching boiling point. Thing Learned Three: once you’re done pressure cooking and the little dealie tells you you can open the lid of the pressure cooker without explosions, you can take off the lid and it’s a regular saucepan. So I boiled off the four cups or so of excess water I’d put in (if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing) and puréed it. And presto! Soup!

I’m digging this pressure cooking game, and you had better believe I have a big to-cook list for this baby. After dried legumes, I think rice will be where I see big wins here. I love brown rice, but never cook it because it takes years — but not in a pressure cooker, nosireebobicus. Oooh and rice pudding. Can you imagine? Course you can, c’mon.

I may take a long time to make decisions, but hot dog howdypants I know how to enjoy them. Anybody needs me, I’ll be next to that whistling super-pot.

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