Things are getting very quickly out of control.
I just went to the store and bought dried seaweed, the neck bone of a lamb, coconut water, and stood for five minutes seriously considering a package of chicken feet, toenails included.
If that’s not a sign of shopping under the influence, I don’t know what is.
Somebody stop me. I bought an InstantMagicWonderPot last week, and I think the rest is history.
I blame my girlfriend, which is where most of our peer pressures come from, right?
She’s a young, hip, trendy gal who raises her app-wielding toddlers on quinoa and paints her walls gray, so already I was suspicious.
“It will change your life!” she insisted, and texted a photo of a salted caramel pretzel crust cheesecake.
I hit the Amazon button.
Because my life could definitely use a change in the cheesecake department.
When the box arrived, I danced happily into the house singing, “Guys! My Magic Pot is here!”
From around a corner I heard, “Mom, you shouldn’t do drugs…”
“Hey! That’s legal now.”
“In that case, how magical is it?”
Such kidders in my family.
Half of the instruction book is in honest-to-goodness Chinese, the other is in Canadian, so I called that girlfriend up and she came over to play Interpretive Cooking Channel.
I had the ingredients to one recipe: lemon chicken. It’s citrus season in San Diego.
I got to work, GF coaching me while her toddler and baby roamed free-range around the house.
What I learned was that this pot is basically a pressure cooker: it forces the food to cook at gunpoint (as opposed to the microwave which is insidious with X-rays) and if you disturb it while it’s got a death-grip on your chicken and lemon juice, it gets very nasty and hisses at you.
It holds the pressure of a thousand mommies trying to make dinner.
It may very well blow up your house if you look at it funny.
Which is why I spent the whole time spying on it from around the corner, confirming that I am my mother’s daughter after all. Explosions are her favorite specter.
The pot spent twelve minutes coming up to pressure, one minute steaming into the kitchen, and another twelve minutes cooking. I watched GF flick the button to quick-release the pressure and the top blew. I jumped five feet, and the toddler looked at me with disgust.
“It’s just steam, Jolie,” she said, “You don’t have to be scared.”
From the mouth of babes.
The chicken was perfect. I decided I still had time to get fancy, so I spread them under the broiler in my oven for another six minutes to brown up, and made gravy in the pot with what was left seething in there.
Rice was fifteen minutes on the stove top while the chicken cooked, but the Pot – so it says in Canadian – can do it in five.
We had chicken and rice and sort-of gravy and salad and girl scout cookies and tea and if I sound a little giddy, it’s because it’s been so long since I’ve cooked real food.
It just gets me…right here.
GF laughed, and drove away bragging about spaghetti squash and pot roasts.
After cleaning up the kitchen, I decided to give it the real test. It’s one thing to cook in broad daylight, with plenty of time and no starving children under foot, it’s another entirely to come home from a long day at work and stare into a messy kitchen at the witching hour and try to not eat Cheetos.
I had a house full of teenage boys, aka: guinea pigs.
I set the pot back up.
I dumped a pound of frozen, cooked ground beef into it. I dumped a jar of spaghetti sauce into it, and another jar and a half of water. I broke a pound of dry spaghetti noodles in two and piled them on top.
The lid went on, the display lit up, and I backed away slowly.
Twelve minutes to warm up, five minutes to cook, five minutes to cool down.
The boys began sniffing, and walked in to investigate.
I flipped the vent and jumped away, crying, “Stay back boys, she’s gonna blow!”
That was the cue for them to surge forward and do facials:
“Stop!” shrieked my own mother’s voice from my mouth, “That steam will burn you! It’s not a toy!”
Which is teenage for: Step right up and steam-iron your shirt; instill a lovely Italian scent to your wardrobe.
It looked like this when we took off the cover:
“Fine,” I said, “after those shenanigans, you deserve uncooked spaghetti for dinner!”
The problem is, once I stirred it up, it turned into this:
And it was lovely.
I’m sold. The pot fits in with how we roll around here: less dishes to wash, less time spent babysitting a stove or oven.
I’ve been following an entire community of pot lovers, gleaning recipes.
That’s seaweed in the mac n cheese, stop looking at it funny.