Introducing Cindy Dake!
In my last post I gave a quick hint about my good friend Cindy who will occasionally be writing some guest posts. In addition to being a pressure cooking wizard she’s also an accomplished writer and editor, so I wasn’t too surprised when, as we were talking about pressure cooking, our conversation turned to writing and blogging. She is thinking about starting a blog herself but isn’t quite ready to take the plunge.
Check out Cindy’s bio at the end of this post for more info on who she is and her own journey (descent?) into pressure cooking. So until Cindy is ready to start her own blog we’re excited to have her share with us here at Pressure Cooker Pros!
Without further ado…here’s Cindy!
Why I Purchased My First Pressure Cooker: A step in a new direction
Me? Writing for a cooking blog? Now, THAT shows you just how funny life can be. I never imagined that writing for a cooking blog would be in my future, but it just shows you how entertaining life can be when you take a one step in a new direction.
Maybe you’re ready for a new direction, too?
You see, I watched friends blah-blah-blah on social media about their pressure cookers for several years. But I looked at pressure cookers and thought, “Why do I need one? I have a crock pot and a slow cooker. In fact, I have two crock pots and a slow cooker!” I used those appliances, plus my stovetop, oven, and microwave – so why did I need another small appliance?
It was a friend from church who unknowingly persuaded me to get serious about reconsidering a pressure cooker. On someone else’s post, she said, “I never used to be able to cook dinner for my family. I couldn’t ever get myself organized enough to have it ready in time. Now, I can come home from work, throw meat and veggies into the pressure cooker, and have a hot, healthy dinner for us in about 30 minutes. I cook dinner every night now. We’re eating together as a family. Every night.”
She must have been reading my mail. That’s what I wanted. I wanted my little family to eat together more often. I wanted us to eat healthier. And I wanted us to eat cheaper, to be completely honest.
Too often we devolved to “Oh, let’s just run to (Chick-Fil-A, Arby’s, Taco Bell, Panda Express) for a quick dinner.” Several times a week, we’d buy dinner out. It was expensive and not necessarily healthy. Having those restaurant apps that reward you with points every time you eat there – that didn’t help either! I got looped into trying to build up points at several restaurants just so I could get a free burger here or $10 off there.
And to be honest, I struggled to get mentally or refrigerator-ly organized enough to have a plan for dinner every night or even for half the nights of the week (presuming some meals would be leftovers and I could slide). After 27 years of marriage, I should have had it figured out by now! I made meal plans. I made grocery lists. But mostly, my problem came when I could never seem to get the food ready at the right time… it would take longer than I planned to get several dishes ready simultaneously. Then, clean-up was a mess with multiple pans, utensils, lids, and pots.
So I took a leap of faith and bought a pressure cooker.
My first pressure cooker was the Instant Pot 6-quart 6-in-1, and truth be told, I bought this variety because it was really affordable at about $79.
I determined quickly that I wasn’t going to suddenly try to start preparing new, elaborate recipes for my guys. That would be a sure-fire way for me to fail. (I’m not a cookbook queen, nor do I really like to branch out and try wild, new recipes.) I liked tried-and-true recipes from my family cookbook or from people I know. I decided to try to adapt what I usually would cook in the oven or the crock pot and simply make it pressure-cooker-friendly.
THAT was the best decision ever.
Chicken with potatoes and carrots? Done! We were all amazed at how good that first meal was, how tender the meat was, how fast it cooked (30 minutes?!), and how it didn’t taste like everything was all mushed together. The flavors were fabulously clear.
Marinara Sauce with Pasta? Done! I tried out the Saute function and loved how I could saute onions and beef and the high walls of the inner pot kept most of the splatters contained. I cooked the rest of the tomato sauce on pressure and made the noodles on the stovetop. Score!
Potato and Sausage Soup? Thanks, Mom!
Italian Wedding Soup? Best ever, Mom!
One by one, my tried-and-true recipes converted beautifully to my pressure cooker. Sometimes, I was using it two times a day! I’d make Steel Cut Oatmeal in 5 minutes in the morning. I’d make a homemade soup for dinner in 30 minutes.
We were eating together almost every night. Our teenage son wasn’t quite as thrilled as his parents were, because he really liked hitting the fast food restaurants. But he agreed that the food coming out of Mom’s pressure cooker was really good.
Even on nights where my dinner plan was sketchy at best, I could grab some meat – even frozen meat – throw in some veggies – and in 30 minutes, we’d have a hot, homemade dinner. Clean-up was always so easy with one pot and a few utensils that came clean with normal dish soap and dish cloth.
About a year later, I bought a smaller version…the Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-quart model because I wanted to be able to cook smaller portions, to cook simultaneously in two pots (yes, I was bitten by the pressure cooker bug), but also because now I really did want to try the yogurt feature.
The little feller was so adorable! I loved being able to make oatmeal in the morning before hubby left for work. I didn’t dread having to figure out dinner anymore! Plus, I could now try yogurt – and I never imagined I would enjoy making my own yogurt that much! And I can make it organic – and so much cheaper than what I’d buy at the store.
Not long ago, I was given the Power Pressure Cooker XL – and while people ask why in the world I have three pressure cookers on my shelf, I can truly tell them that I love ‘em all!
The Power Pressure Cooker XL 8-quart is two quarts bigger than my biggest Instant Pot! It holds a whole chicken easy-breezy! I love its features, like the Teflon coating of the inner pot which made clean-up even easier, and the drop-in steamer tray which became a favorite feature quickly!
But my favorite feature of all? I love that the pressure cookers have made it easier for me to enjoy cooking family favorites – in less time – with less clean-up – so that I can spend more time with my family just making memories together!
Thanks for reading – and please check out some of my recipes as I bring more and more to this blog!
I’m a Texas girl who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex — with my husband of 30 years, our 20-year-old son, our two small (but bark-empowered) dogs, and currently, a cute little tabby kitty who wandered up to my back patio at the end of summer. With a bachelors in journalism and a masters in communication, I’ve written and edited my way through more jobs and projects than I can count.
I stumbled into writing about pressure cooking after a couple of decades of editing for magazines, books, Bible studies, promotional campaigns, even a few I.T.-heavy white papers. For about three years now, I’ve been looking to my pressure cooker to rescue my dinner plans or jump-start our breakfasts — and have been so thrilled with the results that I just had to start keeping track of my successes, my fave recipes, and my occasional “well, that didn’t quite work the way I thought it would” moments. After a year or so of taking pics and jotting scribbles in a well-worn notebook, I realized I have the makings of a food blog.
So if you’re looking for someone who knows everything there is to know about pressure cooking … just move along and I wish you the best. But if you’re looking for a real, down-to-earth, sometimes-organized-sometimes-messy, “what the heck, let’s give it a try” kind of gal, then let’s get to know each other better. I hope you can enjoy the recipes I’ve tested/tried/triumphed — and learn from my mistakes so your pressure cooking journey will be as delicious as possible!
For now, I’m so happy to guest-post over here with Elizabeth — and she has graciously made a spot for me on her blog. Leave me a comment and I’ll look forward to getting to know YOU now!