Quite often, people will tell me, “Wow, you must really love to cook!” It’s an easy conclusion to jump to, I’m always cooking, experimenting in the kitchen, and of course, posting the fruits of my labor. But the honest truth is… I don’t really love to cook. Shocking, I know. The truth is I really LOVE to EAT! Really, really, love to eat. As much food and as many different types of food as I can. I have a love for practically all types of food. As long as there are no bugs involved, I’m game.
My parents are immigrants from Burma, which in and of itself means the food I ate at home was a beautiful mix of Indian, Chinese, Thai, and some indigenous tribes. My father also served in the U.S. Army, so I spent the majority of my youth living in Germany and eating my way through Europe. Super lucky I know, but I digress.
As the sole cook for a family of 5 I found that I needed a way to quickly cook the flavors that were familiar to me without sacrificing the time usually necessary for such dishes. I’m still not sure how my mother managed with a husband and two daughters, but she managed to have at least three different dishes on the table every night, and that’s not counting the vegetable. I don’t have that kind of dedication I guess. Someone should saint that woman!
My knight in shining armor came in the form of an electric pressure cooker! Can you hear the trumpets sounding? This thing is truly amazing, and makes my life so much easier. Remember that infomercial who’s tag line was “set it and forget it”? That is almost all you need to use this thing. I use a Bon Appetite electric pressure cooker that I bought new on eBay a few years ago for around $50 on sale. It’s the best $50 I’ve ever spent. Ever. This thing is a workhorse in my kitchen. I find that I use it more than any other appliance, even the stovetop. I love how reliable the results are, especially since there’s so little effort involved. Most times I’m planning menus based on being able to use it, it’s really that good.
A lot of people are use to crock pot cooking, and love the results. Think of this as a crock pot on speed. You can brown meat, make soup, stews, curries, and roasts that are perfection…in about an hour! With minimal effort I’m able to replicate favorite dishes from my youth without having to babysit a pot, open flame or worry about burning. When it’s done cooking it keeps the food warm for three more hours. It’s amazing, really, take my word for it.
Today I’m making a curry that I kind of thought up on my own, using different ingredients I happened to have in my fridge and pantry. I had chicken thighs defrosted and really no idea of what to do with them. So I started my curry base: onions, garlic and ginger. Cooked those down in the pressure cooker with the lid open until translucent. I then added the different curry pastes, some turmeric and paprika. Threw in the chicken, potatoes, and a handful of raw peanuts, just because I happened to have some on hand. My father went shopping the other day and decided I need 4 pounds of raw peanuts. If anyone has any ideas of what to do with the rest, please feel free chime in. After I gave it a stir, I shut the lid, locked it in place and forgot about it. About an hour later my youngest wandered into the kitchen proclaiming, “What’s that smell? I’m hungry!” My cue to get dinner on the table.
So, while I don’t necessarily love to cook, I do love to eat and feed my family the flavors of my youth. Hopefully, as my girls grow they have the same happy memories associated with these dishes that I do.
The ingredients I used for my miss mosh curry. The onions are already chopped and sautéing in the pressure cooker in some olive oil. I could have used ghee or coconut oil, but the olive oil was on hand and easy to pour.
Bag o’peanuts, compliments of my dad!
Onions as they cook down in my pressure cooker. I added some salt in order to help speed up the process. If you want, you can always start everything on the stove top, it’s a little faster for this part. After everything is added just throw it all into the pressure cooker and set it for 45 minutes. I’m okay with letting it take a little longer if I don’t have to wash another pot.
Next I add the chicken, potatoes, and peanuts and stir. After everything looks well mixed, I close it up and lock the lid in place. As far as I’m concerned dinner is done and I’m able to spend my time doing other things…like read, clean…nap perhaps. Try doing that while using your stovetop!
When I open my magic pot after an hour, I am left with the most tender, fall off the bone chicken, melt in your mouth potatoes, and awesome little peanuts that add texture and interest to the dish! I usually add cilantro when serving for color. This is awesome served with rice and a simple cucumber salad, or maybe pickled peppers to add bite and acid. Such delicious comfort food for this Burma girl. Enjoy!