Our Instant Pot
I wish I could say I purchased our Instant Pot carefully after doing tons of research and making a highly informed decision; but I didn’t. It was already January 4th (2018), our anniversary was coming up in just over a week, and I didn’t have a thought yet as to what I was going to get Gini. We had spent more money than we had really planned on for Christmas (we’re up to 11 grandkids now, and I’m still a kid at heart with adult-priced tastes in toys – plus I spent extra on Gini to make up for the “higher priced than planned” gift she got me), so I was looking for something nice but practical, and still reasonably priced.
I was a little stumped, and was randomly poking around on the ‘net instead of doing something productive (I prefer to call it “thinking”) when I stumbled on some “ooooh ahhhhs” about the Instant Pot. I have a couple friends that have one, and had read briefly about what they did, so I decided to take a closer look. After reading a few reviews about the basics of what it can do, I did a quick check on Amazon (without logging in) to get an idea of prices, and found 1) They were within my price range for a “Gift From Both Us To Both Of Us That I Didn’t Consult You On” anniversary gift, and 2) Amazon said they were out of stock (this was right after Christmas, remember?).
#1 meant I could buy one reasonably guilt free and without our 23rd anniversary being our final anniversary; and #2 meant it notched up a bit on the “OK, now I gotta have it” scale. I did what any 61 year old, mature, independent male who raised only daughters would do, I called up Katie, my youngest, and asked if she thought I could get away with it… I mean if she thought it would be a good “for both of us” gift.
She said yes, but that I needed to make sure it was the Instant Pot brand, and not a knock off. As a totally parenthetical side note, I had lunch with Katie’s oldest sister Kim (I have four adult daughters) earlier today, and I brought up the Instant Pot. She launched in her “perspective” of the knock off that her husband got her. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. Katie had advised me well. Chris – if you’re reading this, I’m going to work with you later to help you out buddy (all of my sons-in-law are good guys, even if they mess up every now and then).
Anyway, I ended up looking again on Amazon (this time logging in) and found that they did have some in stock, but only exclusively to Amazon Prime members. I am one of those, so I ordered a Instant Pot DUO Plus 6 Qt for $120, and had it delivered to Katie’s house. Then I finally started reading more detailed information.
As it turned out, I luckily stumbled on to the exact model I would have chosen, were I making an actual informed choice. I would have loved to have gotten the Smart Bluetooth version, but really couldn’t have justified the extra money for the “gadget appeal” (maybe next year, we do have a SmartThings installed with several home control devices). The Ultra seemed more than we needed in control, and much more than I wanted to spend. The Duo and Lux were cheaper, but had fewer functions, and I think Amazon really was out of both of those. It’s normally just me, Gini, and her mom, so the Duo Plus 6 Qt seemed to have been right for us. I stumbled well.
First Time Use, in My “Don’t Try This at Home” Style
The IP arrived on Jan 8th, a day earlier than promised, and I decided to pull a small prank on my wife (keep in mind, she didn’t have a clue that I was even getting a “present” for our anniversary, let alone what it was). I told her we were going to Katie’s for dinner, that she had something special planned (actually, we had something special planned, but she was in on it; so it wasn’t really a lie), and after preparing the meal, Katie and I would tell her that it wasn’t really Katie’s Instant Pot, but ours.
The plan was that Gini would go home and get her mother (the opposite direction from Katie’s house); giving me time to buy the ingredients for chicken and rice, learn the basics, and start the meal cooking. Gini torpedoed that. She called Katie to let her know she was coming straight there from work to save time, and we’d bring her mom leftovers. So, instead of 1 1/2 hours for everything, I was down to 45 minutes; and wasn’t even at the store yet.
So I grabbed the ingredients (after bouncing back and forth a couple times on which simple recipe to use, I really like chicken and dumplings) and rushed over to Katie’s house. I got the carrots and celery cut, and the chicken seasoned and ready. I had the rice measured out as well as the chicken broth. Now it was time to unbox the thing, get it all sealed up, and the food started cooking before Gini arrived (to stall her a little, I asked her to stop for desert and Diet Cokes). I pulled the parts out without looking at the instructions (hey, I’m a guy) or doing the “water test”, and quickly starting wasting some of that precious time. (I highly recommend reading the instructions, and doing the water test; it will actually save you some time)
Seriously, Read The Instructions!
The stainless steel liner was easy to figure out, and I knew I didn’t need the trivet (even though I couldn’t have called it by name). Everything was ready to put in the pot. All I had to was put the lid in place, and press the right buttons, and we’re off the races – easy stuff; except it wasn’t. (See, that happens when you don’t read the instructions). First, I had trouble seating the lid. I knew that was necessary; though the nightmare imaginations from my childhood of our old-fashioned pressure cooker waiting like a ticking bomb to explode all over my daughter and grandkids were exaggerated, it really did need to have the lid on correctly. Katie jumped on the internet, and figured out we were putting it on backwards, the pressure release goes in the back.
Once we figured that out, the display didn’t make much sense to us. Pressing Pressure Cook showed “10”, “Normal” and “High”. Ten what? Was it “Normal” as opposed to abnormal?, “High” made sense (since it was across from “Pressure”); but I really was unsure. We had already quickly glanced around for the instructions (which I had misplaced when I was hiding the boxes from Gini, this was to be a surprise, remember?) so I was beginning to get desperate. We decided to sit and wait a bit and see what happened. Then the display changed to On. Well … uh yeah… we already knew it was “on”. Moving the pressure release didn’t seem to release any pressure, and nothing seemed to be happening. With the previously mentioned images of a pressurized ticking bomb still in my sweet imagination, I hit the Cancel button.
Then there were all those buttons. The recipe I had found instructed us to “Cook on manual high pressure for 10 minutes” except the IP didn’t have a “manual” button. Again, a quick search on the internet found that our model has a “Pressure Cook” button instead of a “Manual” button.
And the display turned to Off.
That was not what we wanted, I knew that for sure.
Finally, out of desperation, I went through both boxes to find the instructions. Turns out I had dropped them in the shipping box instead of the product box. I’m almost tempted not to say what I did wrong, since you really should read the instructions before using this thing, but to not do so would hardly be fair (some of you may not have joined the cult yet). The “10” was a countdown timer (for 10 minutes; yeah, we even had a discussion about whether it was seconds or minutes, before finding the instructions), switching to On meant it was building pressure (and not doing anything noticeable yet), and hitting Cancel… well I got that one right. It cancelled everything and turned it off. You’ll need to read the instructions if you want to know the rest.
So, we had it going… I was pretty sure. We waited about 10 minutes or so, and there still wasn’t anything obvious happening, but I slightly pressed the pressure release, and steam came out (which smelled wonderful, I might add), plus the pressure indicator was up; so I felt it was building pressure. Probably. I was just about to panic when the display suddenly changed to 10. Katie and I almost threw a party. It looked like it was working.
Yes, Definitely Surprised
We chatted a bit, and the timer hit “00”. We waited for it to climb back to 10, so I could hit the pressure release. At about the 7 minute mark, Gini arrived. Ironically, she gave Katie a bouquet of flowers to thank her for dinner. Katie smiled and graciously said “Thank you”. I forced a smile, knowing that it was I that cooked dinner, and I don’t even really like flowers.
When the timer hit “10” I turned the pressure release, still halfway expecting that bomb to go off. It didn’t. Instead, the whole kitchen smelled like Katie had been cooking all day. My nearly 15 year old 6’2″ grandson grabbed a plate and created a “line” for dinner, and it looked like we had succeeded in cooking our first meal in it.
I cautiously opened the lid, and really was surprised, it looked pretty close to perfect. Katie warned Tristen to only take one serving, and Gini, Katie, and I grabbed ours. Yeah, I was a little surprised. It was far beyond my expectations. Then, after Gini ate her first bite, I sprang the “other surprise”. I told her it wasn’t really Katie’s gadget, it was “our” gift to “us”. She didn’t kill me or throw the food at me, so I figured I was safe. Then I told her the price, and she paled a little, said she thought I had spent maybe $50-$60, not $120. Then she took another bite and smiled. I knew I was safe for at least another year.
What I didn’t know at the time, and have found out in the days since, was something she realized right away; because I’m a gadget fan, it meant I would be cooking more, and she would be cooking less.
She’s right, but that’s OK. I’m sure the new will wear off for me, and curiosity will get her. Until then, we’re both having a blast with it.