Fall is almost here. The days are getting shorter, but now that summer is over, we seem to have more obligations to fit into those shorter days – school schedules, homework, after-school sports and groups, working out, work commitments, and soon we’ll have holiday commitments too. The list can go on and on. Somewhere in there, we also have to put dinner on the table and hope that it makes at least ourselves happy and healthy, if not a whole family. That can be a lot of pressure. What to do?
Actually, pressure just might be the answer.
Last winter I started writing my second cookbook and devoted it to pressure-cooking. As I tested all the recipes in the book, I used my pressure cooker (and sometimes two or three at a time) every day. Even with my culinary background and knowledge of pressure-cooking, I have to admit that I was constantly amazed at how easily and quickly you could get a tasty meal on the table. The mere fact that I could test seven recipes in one day proves how quickly a pressure cooker can produce results. Over the months I was testing recipes, I also convinced my friends that pressure-cooking was the way to go. Some were convinced by the constant supply of pressure-cooked meals I provided for them, while others started believing in pressure-cooking by actually testing recipes for me and seeing the results for themselves.
Pressure-cooking became a significant part of my everyday kitchen through writing this cookbook, but it wasn’t always that way. My first memory of a pressure cooker was as a young child in my mother’s kitchen. A brushed steel pot sat on the stove with a knob on top shaking around madly. There was a lot of hissing coming from the pot and my mother said “DON’T TOUCH THAT!” I think I share that memory with many of my generation. Consequently, for many of us, pressure cookers became scary objects – objects not to be touched. To be honest, after that incident I didn’t touch one for about twenty-five years!
Since those days, however, pressure cookers have changed. You can still buy stovetop pressure cookers, but they have more safety valves built into their lids now to prevent them from exploding and making it easier to manage the pressure inside. Even easier to operate are the new electric pressure cookers. With an electric pressure cooker, all you have to do is set the time and the cooker will regulate the heat and pressure, turning off after the programmed number of minutes. That makes pressure-cooking even easier than cooking on the stovetop in a regular pot or pan.
As the Blue Jean Chef, my goal is to make people as comfortable in the kitchen as they are in their blue jeans, and what could make a cook more comfortable than simply setting a timer? Still, many home cooks continue to be intimidated by pressure-cooking. So, I decided that with the right book, filled with delicious recipes and tips and information about pressure-cooking, people could become comfortable with the pressure cooker again, and feel rewarded with not only tasty meals, but with extra time on their hands. My second cookbook is that book, intended to make you Comfortable Under Pressure. So, with the pressure of all our commitments, the shorter days, and the holidays approaching, why not beat fire with fire, or … beat pressure with pressure-cooking?
Blue Jean Chef: Comfortable Under Pressure will be available for pre-order on QVC starting Sunday, September 16th. Tune into QVC on Sunday around 2:30pm ET to see a live presentation of the book.