Like every other red-blooded American, I got an Instant Pot for Christmas. The Instant Pot — a new-fashioned pressure cooker — was last year’s hot toy for grownups.
Some of my friends had been raving about the Instant Pot for a couple of years, but I was always leery of a pressure cooker.
I’d heard too many stories about pressure cookers exploding and spewing collard greens — or worse, spaghetti sauce — all over the kitchen ceiling.
My mother had an old-style pressure cooker. She was a meticulous and cautious woman who never exploded anything in the kitchen, as far as I know. But she also cooked as little as possible, so there’s that.
I used to have my mom’s old pressure cooker, but I could never find the little pressure regulator that went on top. So I just used it as a nice heavy pot. Years later I found the regulator in the back of the junk drawer — but by then I’d lost the pot.
The Instant Pot is not supposed to explode. But then neither was Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phone.
I decided to brave the Instant Pot and cook a mess of pinto beans.
I dumped a big bag of dried beans into the pot. Then I added the recommended amount of water. But horrors! I had exceeded the “maximum fill line” on the pot. And we all knows what happens if you exceed the maximum fill line. BOOM!
I scooped out a couple of cups of beans, added some sliced onions and spices, carefully locked the lid, turned the thing on and ran to the other side of the kitchen.
I didn’t want to be anywhere near that thing while it cooked, but I also didn’t want to leave it unsupervised.
I sat warily at the kitchen table, never taking my eyes off of the Instant Pot.
I scooted back another two feet.
It would take 30 minutes for the pot to heat up. It would take another 30 minutes to cook the beans. It would take yet another 30 minutes for the pot to cool down enough to open the lid.
“Instant,” my foot.
Instead of waiting for the pot to cool down naturally, I decided to try the “quick release” method, whereby one turns a little valve from “sealing” to “venting.”
This should be easy enough. I have a lot of experience with venting to release pent-up pressure.
I batted at the quick-release valve and hopped back. Great gouts of steam filled the kitchen.
I felt like St. George battling the dragon, but instead of chain mail my armor was silicone oven mitts.
After an eternity of yet more hissing and gurgling and breathing fire, the Instant Pot quieted down. I cautiously reached out my oven mitt, carefully unlocked the lid and lifted it up.
There were beans inside. They were cooked. They were … good.
Best of all, I had found bravery inside myself.
That, and I’d managed to cook a pot of beans without stinking up the whole house.
Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.