Happy New Year! Yes, I know I’m ridiculously late in saying that. People have been writing to ask if I’m all right because it’s been so long since I posted, so before I write one word about cooking, I want to assure you that I am fine. Actually, I’m more than fine. By any means of measurement, objective (blood tests, CT scans, etc.) and subjective (I feel great), I am 100% back to normal. I’m finding that once people hear that you have had cancer, every little absence from a meeting or a party or a blog makes them fear for your health. The truth is I feel so good that I’ve been busy with lots of mundane projects, such as transferring all my files from Windows to my new iMac, staining and sealing my new front entry doors, and planning some trips with my daughter later this spring (final college visits, yay).
But another reason I haven’t posted is that I’ve been in a cooking slump.
My year got off to a bad start, cooking-wise, when the black-eyed pea loaf I made for New Year’s Day was a total flop. I started off with too much liquid, so it never firmed up in the middle, making it inedible, at least to humans. The dog, however, loved it and enjoyed a little piece as a treat every day for about 3 weeks. My husband even suggested I make it again as dog food! I’ve had a couple of other flops, such as when I tried to veganize but instead destroyed this recipe for Rumbledethumps. At least we were able to eat the Rumbledethumps, with their vegan “cheese” that was more like a nutritional yeast crust, but such failures do make me feel like I’ve somehow lost my cooking mojo. I have been having success re-cooking a lot of my old recipes, so my problem isn’t in the execution but in the ideas. Every time I think I’ve come up with a unique idea for a recipe, it turns out that I’ve already made and blogged about something similar. That’s what sharing recipes online for over 20 years will do to you.
I finally decided that the only way to get over my blogging slump is to just find something simple and blog about it. Something like my new way of baking sweet potatoes.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve baked regular potatoes and sweet potatoes in two steps: pre-cook them in the microwave and then finish them off in the toaster oven. It’s a compromise that results in pretty good potatoes that cook quickly in the microwave yet have a little of that roasted flavor that only baking can impart. I didn’t think they could taste any better until I decided to change up one of the steps and pressure cook them in my Instant Pot rather than microwaving. Though they take a little longer in the PC, they come out so much moister and creamier than microwaved potatoes. Here’s how I do it:
- 1 sweet potato per person
- water, boiling preferably
- Wash the sweet potatoes well. Poke each with a fork a few times.
- Put about 1 cup of hot water in your pressure cooker. (This is for a 6-quart Instant Pot; larger cookers may need more. Just make sure water covers the bottom of the pot.)
- Place a steaming rack or basket in the pot. Make sure the water is beneath the level of the rack. Place the potatoes on the rack, out of the water.
- How much time you pressure cook them will depend on the size of the sweet potatoes. For small potatoes, start with 14 minutes, medium 16 minutes, large 18 minutes. Lock your lid in place and bring to high pressure. (Instant Pot users, use the Manual setting and set the appropriate time.) It doesn’t matter how many potatoes you are cooking; set the timer according to the size of the largest potato.
- Cook at high pressure for the time listed for your size of sweet potatoes. Then remove from heat or turn your electric PC off. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 10 minutes. Quick release the pressure if necessary after 10 minutes. Check the potatoes by poking down to the center with a fork. They should be relatively soft all the way through. If they seem hard in the middle, return them to the cooker, and pressure cook them for another minute or two. Quick release the pressure and check again. They should be done, but repeat if necessary.
- While the pressure is coming down, preheat your oven to 400F. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm.
If you’re looking for more pressure cooker recipes or just help in using your Instant Pot, check out these resources:
My Pressure Cooking Recipes on this Blog
More Pressure Cooker Recipes on FatfreeVegan.com
Instant Pot Vegan Recipes Facebook Group
Insta-Pot Users Group (Eat to Live)
The New Fast Food, Jill Nussinow’s book and website
Vegan Pressure Cooking, by JL Fields
Thanks for putting up with me as I dip my toe back in the blogging water. I’ll be back soon with something a little more complex. But not dog food!
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