Everyone, it seems, is talking about Instant Pot -- the revolutionary electric pressure cooker that, for all the hype, promises to turn anyone into an overnight culinary rockstar. Well, bring it on.
That's what you thought, right? And why not? Instant Pot cooks healthy food fast. And take a look at that instrument panel!
The latest model (10-in-1, which means it does just about everything short of vacuuming the living room) is an egg cooker, saute pan, slow cooker, rice cooker, cake maker, yogurt maker, sterilizer, pressure cooker, food warmer and steamer. Whew!
Someone on Facebook may have even promised you an Instant Pot recipe for the best Broccoli and Beef this side of Shanghai from scratch in just 15 minutes.
And the glowing reviews of IP Barbecue Short Ribs and Cheesecake (cheesecake?!) from scratch in a matter of minutes at the hands of even a complete kitchen klutz seemed to be some kind of gift from the food universe.
You're no fool. You know a miracle when you see it. You could not wait another day to get onboard the Instant Pot train.
You pulled your new IP out of the box, managed to figure out the sealing vent, stumbled through the very first step (boiling water) and wondered, "Now what?" You weren't exactly ready to dive into Broccoli and Beef quite yet, but you were hoping for something more than mastering the perfect boiled egg.
I hear you. Boy, do I!
Those first few weeks, I used my IP for nothing more than a fast slow cooker. I did venture into the miracle of perfect hard-cooked eggs Instant Pot style. But I didn't make super progress until I armed myself with a few strategic accessories, joined a Facebook Instant Pot group, learned to make a foil sling and got hooked on watching Instant Pot videos.
You have a number of choices. My advice is to select the size first: The 3-quart is perfect if you regularly cook for two; the 6-quart is the most popular size because it is quite versatile if you have the right accessories; an 8-quart is good for a large family of, say, six and larger.
Next, consider the features. Each new model of Instant Pot seems to have an added feature. You will find Instant Pot 6-in-1, 7-in-1, 9-in-1 and the latest 10-in-1.
It's crazy how IP prices vary almost day by day. Generally, if you can get an Instant Pot in the size and features you desire for around $100, you've found a great deal.
I've put together an Instant Pot Quick Start Guide to help you into the fast track of becoming an Instant Pot rock star, which you can find at EverydayCheapskate.com/quickstart.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at email@example.com, or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually.