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Instant cooker: ‘How did we live without it?’

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    ABOVE: White Chicken Pumpkin Chili from a recipe by Sara Skokan. PHOTO COURTESY SARA SKOKAN
    LEFT: Christina Santee can toss a few ingredients in her multicooker and have dinner on the table in a half-hour. She’s also been able to save money and eat healthier. KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS

Published January 23. 2019 10:59AM


f you’ve heard all the hype about the latest generation of programmable pressure cookers — such as the Instant Pot — you might believe it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

You might be right.

Touted for making everything from hard-boiled eggs to cheesecake, and just about anything in between — and often in record time — these multicookers have become so popular there are thousands of online blogs dedicated to them.

The same is true on Facebook, where hundreds of thousands of home cooks share recipes, tips and praise.

Instagram and Pinterest? Hundreds of thousands.

Want a cookbook instead? There are hundreds to choose from.

Further proof that these little marvels have exploded in popularity is that about a year ago, we asked our readers if any had received an Instant Pot for Christmas. The response was underwhelming.

When we asked again in the fall, we were flooded with praise for Instant Pots and those that go by other names and manufacturers.


Convenience and a healthier lifestyle

Christina Santee of Nesquehoning is also hooked. In fact, when an unfortunate kitchen accident destroyed her Crock-Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker (which had nothing to do with the appliance), she immediately went out and got another.

Santee and her husband, Frederick, bought their first instant multicooker last March. The appliance cost about $70, and she said it’s worth the money.

“It pays for itself with the meals I’ve been able to cook.”

With a busy family — the Santees have three children, Alison, 11; Emyli, 5; and Damieon, 3 — they’re always on the go. If she forgets to defrost something for dinner, it doesn’t matter with the Instant Pot. In just over an hour, dinner goes from freezer to table. If she does defrost meat, she can have the same meal on the table in about 25-30 minutes.

“We don’t have to go out to eat,” she says.

And while Santee’s multicooker makes life easier, it’s also helping to make it healthier.

“When I decided to be a healthier person, I went to a seminar for weight loss at St. Luke’s in Allentown, and I decided to turn everything around. I followed their rules.”

One of those rules, she said, was no eating out, which seemed like a good idea. She saw people praising the Instant Pots in an online weight-loss forum, so she brought it up to her husband. He agreed it was worth a shot.

“We’ve been using it ever since,” she said.

As part of her journey, Santee and her husband started a healthy lifestyles group at Meed’s Memorial UMC in Nesquehoning on Friday nights. When we first spoke last fall, she had lost 76 pounds and was looking forward to achieving her first major goal — to shed 100 pounds.

Last week, a year after she set out on her weight-loss journey, Santee hit that first milestone.

Of course her success isn’t all due to the use of her multicooker, but it’s definitely been a useful tool as she moves toward her next goal.

From soup to ... yogurt?

Sara Skokan is an avid Instant Pot user and creates her own recipes, such as her White Chicken Pumpkin Chili.

“I also have a bone broth recipe of my own and a traditional Czech garlic soup with chicken, too,” Skokan said.

Skokan has a degree from the California Culinary Academy in Classical French Cuisine as well as some professional experience.

Her original recipes are popular with her friends, and she shares many in an online Instant Pot users group.

Other readers had plenty to say about their favorite kitchen appliance.

“I have an Instant Pot and I love it,” said Christine Burke of Saylorsburg. “I am responsible for about 25 of my friends buying one, as they were inspired by all of the pictures and recipes I posted on Facebook! I purchased mine last year, because my husband and I travel all over the country in our travel trailer, and I was told this was a ‘must have’ appliance for full-time RV’ing. It was such a convenience having this appliance. I love how I can make a fully home-cooked meal in so little time, and use only one pot!”

“I love my Instant Pot,” said Kim Green of Summit Hill. “One of my favorite humans turned me on to it. Also my boss got one and loved it, and after that I did my research. I wasn’t ready to buy, as the price seemed expensive for something I might not like. My husband got it for me as a surprise for Valentine’s.

“I was so excited and I made some potato soup and it came out awful. I put it back in the box for two months feeling defeated. I belonged to an Instant Pot group on Facebook. They encouraged me to try it. Then I pulled up my big girl pants and tackled it again. It’s currently my favorite go-to kitchen item. My favorite recipes are lemon curd yogurt, rosemary barbecue ribs, rice pilaf and spaghetti,” said Green.

“Let me start by publicly stating ‘I’m a sale finder and have become an insta pot fanatic,’ ” said Charlene Godown of Lehighton.

“I purchased my insta pot at Walmart in Lehighton three years ago on clearance for $20. Score! I thought then, ‘Wow an electric pressure cooker.’ Let me tell you, it is absolutely fantastic — pressure cooking without fear. A 3-pound pot roast freezer to table in 90 minutes, fork tender!”

“I have a Ninja Multi-Cooker and also a pressure cooker. I love them both,” said Amy Alta of White Haven.

“I make everything in the Ninja from baked goods to soups, stews, roasts and even homemade dog food. It has four features. It’s a one-pot shot and easy to clean too.”

Alta, who used to own a deli in Weatherly, said she’s a “toss of this and pinch of that” type of cook.

“I can make pretty much anything into soup. I’d say that’s my specialty.”

“I got myself one on Prime Day,” said Ashley Poirer. “As a busy working mom, it makes healthy cooking so easy on work/school nights. Best buy ever. I got one for my mom for Christmas and I plan on upgrading mine to the 8 quart.”

“I love mine,” said Tammy Beck-Crosby. “I mainly use it for cooking meats that usually take several hours to cook, like ribs, ham, turkey, etc. Saves a lot of time and allows you to have meals you would normally only have on holidays or only once in a while due to the cooking times.”

“I love it!” said Soraya Gimenez. “I make Greek yogurt weekly. I get 80 ounces of Greek yogurt from a $2.99 gallon of milk. I also make bone broth twice a month without the stink all over the apartment. My joints love it. Pulled pork is so easy with the Instant Pot. Cheesecakes are great too. I love hummus, and cooking the garbanzo beans makes it so easy to finish the dish in one hour.”

While many readers sang the praises of the Instant Pot, Adrienne York summed it up quite nicely.

“How did we ever live without one?”



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