Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Learning curves

Cookbooks tell you a lot about the tastes of the cookbook author, and the standard go-tos in their kitchen that they build into every recipe. For example, the guy who runs cast iron keto is very fond of spicy. He likes to stick jalepenos in just about everything. He also likes cheesy foods, thing that are pretty dense and heavy on the stomach. Which makes great comfort food when it's cold outside, but I will definitely be cooking more of his recipes in the winter than in the summer.

For the summer, well, I'm working on learning to cook in the instant pot. It's a steep learning curve, and being at the bottom of the learning curve is frustrating when I'm used to being near the top. You're not going to be seeing "This awesome instant pot creation!" recipes here any time soon, unless I can figure out why my the recipe swears eggs cook in 4 minutes at high pressure, but after 14 minutes at high pressure, I finally just finished the eggs off in the microwave.

So far, the score when following directions is: 2 failures (how did that turn out both mush and charred?) and 2 mediocre meals. Fortunately, this is why G-d gave us a Mexican restaurant in town, and gave me a patient husband with a good sense of humour.

Meanwhile, I continue to work on tweaking things for improvement. When delving into "Why are the keto rolls slightly bitter, when the fathead dough pizza crust I make isn't?" The answer seems to be that the standard baking powder, when used in that quantity, is to blame, and I should switch to an aluminum-free baking powder.

So I headed to the pantry to very what baking powder I had, and that I could just mix up a stopgap batch from baking soda and cream of tartar. (I can.) But I also found a bag tucked away behind the baking soda, fresh from Bob's Red Mill, of double-acting aluminum-free baking powder. Peter strikes again! When reorganizing the pantry, he must have noted that I'm getting low, and gotten a replacement while ordering more (requested) almond flour. I love my husband, I do!

As for the way my spinach & artichoke-heart dip is rather... robust, it turns out I'm using frozen spinach, which I should have realized isn't a one-for-one replacement for fresh. So the dip as it's called for has a lot more water to make it gloopey, and I have a lot more veg to make it stand up.

Next variations to include in the experiment: close examination of the photo on site indicates that the recipe creator might have used red onion while merely calling for onion, and the local supermarket's awesome spinach dip also includes chopped water chestnut for crunch. Those might not stand up to the heat of cooking, but I bet a handful of pine nuts would...


  1. My lovely bride, no slouch in the kitchen, started her mom in the kitchen at 3 y.o., and has been cooking ever since. We bought an Instant Pot a few months ago, when the local store had them at 70% off. The pot's still in the box. I suspect the learning curve, plus the demands of her job, have discouraged her from even attempting preparation. And it's not surprising to see you referring to it, as well.

  2. Actually, the water chestnut probably WILL stand up to cooking. And it was still VERY good!

  3. Hubbie bought himself an instant pot about 3 years ago now, and liked using it so much he bought one for his brother for Christmas.
    Got to admit he doesn't do eggs in it, but you can pop a frozen whole chicken in, after you have removed the innards, add a cup of water, season with salt and pepper, stuff with onions and garlic, rub the outside with olive oil, and 30 minutes later on the high canning setting it is done. He does a lot of rice also as it only takes 7 minutes on the rice setting. He defats the chicken juices, and then uses it to do the rice with.
    He uses the canning setting frequently. If something comes out too moist, he tosses it into a preheated cast iron skillet under the broiler for a few minutes. Yum, Yum!

  4. 14 minutes at high pressure is decidedly long. The first time I did hard boiled eggs in mine I did 8 minutes and they were well done, I do 6 minutes now. So there's something else going on here. I do want to double check that it was actually 14 minutes at pressure, and not 4 minutes at pressure and 10 getting to pressure? I see occasional comments from people who don't realize how long it takes the unit to come to pressure, and yah, most of those recipes don't include the come to pressure time in their cooking/planning times.

    Did you do the "water test"? If not it might be worth doing so, 2 cups of hot water, high pressure for a couple minutes. Shouldn't take more than a few minutes (10-ish) to come to pressure, then it'll count down 2 minutes, then you can release the pressure manually or let it release on its own as it cools. If that takes a LONG time to come to pressure then there's something wrong with how the IP is heating.

    I love my IP, but yah, some things do take a bit of a learning curve.

  5. Ruth - it was 14 minutes at pressure, and based on trying other recipes since, yeah, I'm trying to figure out what I did wrong - or if the seal wasn't working, or what, because the cooking has been far more effective since. Still learning...