I fought the Pot, and We Both Won

I took a step back.  I researched and studied.  And I stand (well, sit actually) here proudly and ready to share that I may have lost the battle, but the Instant Pot lost the war.   Yes, I’m dramatic, get used to it.  Just to recap, I attempted to make a pot roast in this beastly kitchen appliance a few weeks ago and was sadly disappointed.  I walked away damaged and destroyed by an electrical object.  However, my mama raised no quitter.  The internet may have a lot of fake news, but when it comes to the Instant Pot, it’s legit!

Not only did I win, but I made the best meal we have had in over a year.  I’m no Gordina Ramsey, but I’ve got chops in the kitchen.  I’ll admit, I can’t take much credit for the succulent pile of tender and juicy pot roast that was lifted out to a chorus of ooh’s and ahhh’s tonight.  Here’s the shocker . . . the roast wasn’t the star.  When preparing this most loved meal I always make mashed potatoes.  My potatoes are good, and I’ve perfected the recipe from a combination of friend’s recipes over the years.  But these potatoes?  I’d like to think they were amazing and the best I have ever had.

First of all, if you have come here for a healthy recipe, you will be disappointed.   If you have come here for a recipe in general, stay tuned, you’ll get that when I am able to recreate this genius and record it.  Let me just say, the potatoes cooked with the meat for 2hrs on high pressure.  After a natural decompression I then prepared them as if I were making mashed potatoes like any other day.  The magic was in how they were seasoned and cooked in the Instant Pot.  These potatoes tasted like GRAVY!  I’m not joking.  I didn’t even make gravy because these potatoes turned out so flavorful that we didn’t need it.  The meat was juicy, and every bite was like you didn’t deserve it for free.

I have a saying I live by: If you didn’t learn anything, go back and look again.  I truly believe this applies to every part of our lives, even in the kitchen.  After my first instant pot disaster I had to go back and figure out what went wrong and how I couldn’t get a stinkin’ kitchen appliance to comply.  It wasn’t easy and I’ll admit, there have been 2 other massive failures prior to this most excellent success.  But there is a bigger picture here, no matter what, keep going.  And yes, I just took this journey to an entirely different level.

In the kitchen, in the bedroom, heck, even in the bathroom, pretty much anywhere, if you feel like a failure, like there is no way to succeed . . . you just keep going.  I sat down to blog tonight and caught myself flipping through pictures.  Isn’t digital media amazing?  I love that I can tap something, swipe another, or just speak to Alexa and I have my past looking back at me.  This Instant Pot war reminded me of my mom.  She couldn’t cook for crap.  Seriously, the lady had eight recipes and rotated them with Chinese take-out, Little Caesars Pizza-Pizza, and Arby’s.  But this lesson goes beyond the kitchen, it reminded me of my moms’ tenacity and her incomparable desire to be the best she could be.

This woman fought a rare cancer for 16 years.  She fought for two years prior to that to even get a doctor to listen to her and believe something was wrong.  She died on April 6, 2012.  She did not die from cancer.  Cancer did not win.  She passed due to all the complications and damage that years of chemotherapy had done to her heart and her lungs.  She experienced remission three times!  Her last breath was on her own terms, with her family by her side, and with no shame.  Would she have wanted another day?  Absolutely.  But she lived her life and lived it well.  She didn’t let the little things, or the big things derail her for long.  And when she noted a derailment, she made the corrections. 

My mom (front left) with my grandma, aunts, and uncles (2009).

“We aren’t supposed to be perfect; we’re supposed to be whole”.  I heard Jane Fonda say that once.  We get whole by seeking out the lessons, learning, rebuilding, and trying again.  In the face or aftermath of disaster, we must keep going.

A picture of our meal, or even an Instant Pot seems appropriate.  But instead, I decided to throw in some pics of the reason I keep moving.  We all have them; we just need a reminder from time to time.  Sure, some of these pictures remind me of heartache, rough times, lost love, and moments I’d love to bury. I won’t bury them because they remind me what I’ve learned and where I’ve come from.

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Idiocy At It’s Finest

Measurements. Fractions. MATH!!!!  I consider myself to be fairly intelligent.  After homeschooling my daughter for 5 years I think I’ve got the hang of pretty much everything but complex chemistry because its dumb and I have no use for it (though it would probably come in handy with this whole instant pot business).  However, I have come to tell you that children, especially teenagers, will turn you into the dumbest person in the neighborhood.  You doubt this statement? I have proof!

My teenager came home with an assignment to make a batch of cookies.  Great, we can do that!  She gathered the recipe and informed me that first, we must purchase cream of tartar.  Of course, my response is, “nah . . . that’s a fancy phrase for baking powder”.  Forty-five minutes later (I did a test batch to check my theory) and the nastiest snickerdoodles I’ve ever tasted, we trucked ourselves to the local Piggly Wiggly.

Safely back at home, the kid goes to work.  The first step is to take a recipe for two dozen cookies and break down the measurements to half of that.  Awesome, that’s math.  Not her favorite subject, but I hammered this stuff into her head for five years, surely, she can do this without me.  Ten minutes later in prances my child with a recipe and the conversions for ingredients.  For a moment I was certain my eyes were playing tricks on me.  They were not. 

2 ½ = 1 ½

2 ¾ = 1 ¾

Yeah . . . apparently, I must educate today.  Just so you are aware, I have an internal gauge for my blood pressure.  In times like this there is a bar in the upper right-hand corner of my vision field with 5 lights in succession from yellow to red (moving right to left).  They light up the more agitated I get.  I was already clearly at stage 1 because that first yellow light was quite blinding and the second one was starting to blink as I looked at these conversions and wondered if either of us would survive this assignment.

I took a breath (the second light went dark!!!!) and explained that ½ does not mean you just take away a whole number.  That doesn’t make any sense at all.  Let me stop here and explain a little something.  When a child, any child, is tasked with making cookies they do not give a crap about the process, they want the cookies!  I swear, this kid was already drooling just knowing what was coming in her near future.  Moving on, she huffed and puffed and marched back to the kitchen counter to re-evaluate the situation.  Stage 2 skipped the blinking period and immediately lit up in a darker stage than the first. 

From my perch in the living room I can see everything.  As I observe I notice light number 3 start a slow blink.  I’m aware that my child is standing there utterly baffled by this NASA level complication.   So, I offer verbal assistance.  “Child!  What is the denominator?  What is the numerator?  How many parts are in a whole?” Her response: “Can I use a calculator?”  You guessed it, stage three is full blown orange and no longer blinking.  This isn’t hard.  I gave direction and a hint. 

I directed this wonderful child of mine to break down the original measurements into quarters.  Her response was some form of “dollar quarters or time quarters?”  Obviously, my words came quickly, harshly, and full of a level of sarcasm that would rival many of my prior comebacks.  “Uhhh . . . how about cooking quarters?”  I could go on to explain the insanely ignorant conversation that ensued, but I’ll save you those five minutes.  I couldn’t save them for myself, but I will do that for you. 

Now that we have defined what a quarter is, we can proceed.  This child, my child, a child I know has a brain, proceeds to announce that 11 has no half.  It is a prime number, and this is the dumbest recipe ever.  I agree on the dumb part, but I will reserve to whom or what it applies.  She can’t remember to comb her hair, but she knows 11 is a prime number?  Come on!!!!

After one of the most painful 4 minutes of my life, she managed to get out the measuring cups and realize that ½ and ¼ show her how many “parts” a whole has.  Another nail on chalk board two minutes later she uses these tools to figure out that 5 ½ is the total of parts that she needs to convert.  Are you confused?  Because here is where things get ugly.

We’ve now invested well over 15 minutes into this conversion ordeal.  I’ve reached stage 4/5 in my journey to oblivion/maximum annoyance.  My child, this wonderful cherub, reached her own level 5 about 10 minutes ago.  But we press on, there are snickerdoodles on the line.  Mass confusion ensues because I’ve spent so much time explaining what the “parts” represent that I’ve managed to uneducate myself and have no idea what ½ of ¾ is. 

I’m not going to admit that to her!  So, I do math in my head.  Nope, that’s not right.  I do math out loud.  Nope, now I sound kind of dumb.  Finally, in a sudden moment of reality, I go to google.  Google responds quickly and promptly with 6 tablespoons.  Wait . . . what?!  You mean I was expected to calculate a conversion to a different type of measurement?  More importantly, why did I take on this task?  We have a smart home!  Alexa is the queen bee around here. 

And just like that my trader child grabbed the measuring spoons, shook her head and called her fairly intelligent mother an idiot.  She’s pretty lucky that stage 5 only blinked and that she has school tomorrow because survival would have been questionable if things shifted any other way.  I’d also like to add that the second idiot involved in this little situation produced some sort of ok cookies . . . but there’s no need to spill those beans.

Instant Pot Wars

Let’s Eat!!!!!

I am writing this from a low point. No seriously, I’m lying on the floor with my feet up on the couch to realign my back. But I am also writing from an emotional low. I had a kitchen fail. You know how it goes. You get a new appliance and you try to make something that you’ve always made a certain way.  You want to join the crowd and want to give it an A+ effort. I sat back and listened to 18 months of success stories. Tales of fantastic meals and mouthwatering pictures. In a midnight, peer pressured moment of weakness, I caved. I bought an instant pot. I am attracted to accessories. I love them. I think they are far better than the actual products they are intended to support. So when our mutual Amazon browsing event led us to oogling all the cool accessories, we were left with very few options.

So, while googling over all the different accessories for an instant pot, I obviously had to buy the actual pot in order to enjoy them. And buy the pot, I did! I bought the best; the biggest; and the most excessive pot available. It arrived and I made my first meal. I turned a family recipe that typically takes 8 to 10 hours into a 20-minute pot of deliciousness. Cranberry chicken, tender and plump rice, red sauce, chunky cranberries . . . it was amazing.

Obviously, I was hooked. However, that first meal requires a bit of a storytelling moment. You see, nobody told me that it was loud. Nobody told me that I would likely jump when it got loud. Nobody told me that I really needed to read the directions. So, when I operated the instant pot for the first time using the QuickStart guide it is completely acceptable that in the moment the steam escaped and made a loud hissing sound (much like a rattlesnake) I JUMPED. In my sudden moment of fear, I managed to slap myself … with a boob.  I forgot to mention one more missed warning I never received: nobody told me that my own body appendages would assault me during this cooking process.  Needless to say, I wear a bra when I use my instant pot now.

Moving onto my failure. The first meal was a success, so I went for the homerun. I gathered my ingredients and decided to tackle pot roast. If this magical pot can make my chicken tender and juicy in 20 minutes, then how could it not pressure cook my pot roast into submission? I measured my liquids. Seared my roast. Sliced my onions and gathered my potatoes. The layering was beautiful.  I learned about the “burn” warning and made sure I took the steps to prevent that disaster. After all this care, I proceeded to close the lid.  Sidebar . . .does everyone else look stupid when they close the lid? That’s just a general question.

25 minutes later I armed myself with body armor, flipped the steam valve and jumped back. I patiently waited for the first site of my masterpiece. I cracked the lid, the machine sang me a song, the smoke started to come out, and the smell took over. My roast was done.

Aaaaaaaaaannnd then I touched it. Not fall apart; not loosey-goosey; and definitely NOT my pot roast. “Do it again”, my evil spirit told me. “Cook it longer”, the spirit whispered. “How could it hurt”, the little devil said. So, I snatched broth for gravy, plucked my potatoes from the drought, sealed the capsule, and hit pressure cook. While my meat took soak #2, I prepared my sides.

Let me just tell you right now, it didn’t work out. I made some amazing potatoes. My gravy was on point. But the roast?  That piece of meat was dead to me. I’ve come to learn that no matter how many times you pressure cook a roast, if it didn’t come out right the first time, it probably won’t come out right the second time or even the fifth time. Failure.  I’ve been bested by an electronic. Crushed. Beaten down.  Decimated.  How can I go on trusting this thing

So now what do I do I’ve spent all this money I have this beautiful kitchen appliance and yet it smacked me in the face. Do I get back up? Do I go buy more roast? My old way was just fine. I like it it.  Slow cooking worked for me. Why do I need to change? Oh . . . the accessories.  I must press on.

I will stand up and I fight because, I have a dream. One day we will sit hand-in-hand eating a juicy fall apart roast.  And that satan machine will be the one to do it! I have a dream. But for now, I’m a failure. Press on, we must.

So, to all you instant pot lovers of the world and all of you other people sitting on the couch, reading this at work, or doing whatever it is you do with your day; take note, I will not back down. This is a lesson for everybody. Don’t let innovation beat you down. If you’re an android person don’t be afraid of the Apple. If you’re an Apple person, well, you’ve already won that battle.  And, if you are an Insta pot failure, join me as we forge ahead. Arm yourselves, it’s time to show this pot that it may have won the battle, but the war has only just begun.

Until we meat again Sir IP . . . until we meat again.