Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Search for a Pressure Cooker

Happy last-day-of-existence, according to the Mayan calendar! I still think some poor soul with very tired arms simply put down his hammer and chisel and decided that "2012" was far enough!*

Assuming there is a tomorrow, I would like to find myself a little closer to having procured a pressure cooker by then. And not just any pressure cooker - one that works, and which will continue to work for the next few decades!
*(6 May 2012 Update:  I checked the dates. Sorry - the end of the world is supposedly the 21 of December, 2012 according to the Mayan calendar. Looks like I still have time to find a pressure cooker!)

I'm sometimes tempted to purchase a 2nd one as a back-up. Awesome cookbook.

If you still haven't bought "Vij's at Home: Relax, Honey - The Warmth and Ease of Indian Cooking", then you obviously either haven't been reading my blog, or you really hate cooking, or Indian food, or both. Still, I will beg you to reconsider - this is THE best ethnic-cuisine cookbook I have ever used or owned, hands down. Every dish tastes incredible, and the instructions are idiot-proof (trust me, I know whereof I speak!).

Most of the recipes are quite quick - for example, our comfort food favourite "Rajma Chawal" (kidney beans and rice) takes only about half an hour with rice cooked simultaneously on the other burner.

Piping hot bowl of Rajma Chawal. I like to go heavy on the tumour-fighting turmeric.

But the one big trouble with Rajma Chawal is that sometimes I've used up all the canned kidney beans. Or, I've soaked dried beans overnight (8 hours), only to realise that it takes 45 minutes to cook them BEFORE I even start into the 30 minute recipe!

And after a long day, frozen pizza starts looking like a better option.

Rajma Chawal is so nice, though. It's vegan (not that I have many vegan friends to entertain, but it's suitable for those with dairy allergies), it's really good for you (high in fibre, iron, and low-in-fat, particularly when you skimp on the oil like I do), and it's easily made with pantry staples.

I really want to make this with dried beans, which are cheaper, particularly when bought in bulk or large bags. They're also lighter to carry home from the grocery store!

P is for Pressure Cooker!

But I don't want to have to plan a day in advance, and cook them 45 minutes prior to beginning a recipe. For starters, my dinner plans constantly change, and if I do manage to make it home in time for dinner, I don't relish having to pre-cook beans!

What I need is a pressure cooker!

I want, I want, I want, I want . . . . ! (Vij's at Home)

Vij's at Home talks about pressure cookers, and makes a good case for this investment:

  1. Money-saving: turns dried beans and cheap cuts of meat into perfectly cooked meals
  2. Eco-Friendly: makes your stove more efficient by reducing the time required to cook
  3. Time-saving: you can turn dried beans into cooked beans in 22 minutes!
This Hour has 22 Minutes?! Bring on the pressure cooking!
The page in Vij's at Home that convinced me of my need.

So naturally, the first thing I do is run to the computer and begin to comparison shop. This endeavour, I should mention, usually metes me with much success. But not today.


First, I tried Ming Wo. Apparently they don't sell pressure cookers. I tried the local guys, so now onto the national retailers.

Canadian Tire had two pressure cookers at half price! Could this be the steal I was looking for?! Like when we bought a cast-iron, enameled Dutch Oven for half price? (Thanks A & D for telling my husband about that particular scoop!).

On Sale! What a happy phrase!

Upon reflection, no. There were 3 reviews. The first was mostly positive. Below are the other two. If you don't feel like reading it, the summary is that one person bought and returned this particular cooker twice, taking the cash in the end because of an inherent design flaw in that the steam escaped through the handles. The third one didn't appear to have that problem, but it rusted on the first use, and then further on the second. Aluminum can rust?! Yikes.

Scary reviews. I'm so grateful these people posted them!

Okay, skip that. To Home Hardware. As usual, the prices here were staggeringly high. So I comparison-shopped at Amazon carried the Hawkins brand, the Indian-made pressure cooker that Vikram Vij and Meeru Dhalwala know and love. And it was only $45! But before I added it to the 'cart', I noticed that the cost of shipping was estimated at $41. I can't handle that.

Even the aluminum base model was incredibly expensive compared to other stores.
$45 is great, but not when shipping is $41!

So I got desperate - I tried Walmart's website (ooh, I know - bad. Don't judge me! I was just looking!), but they didn't have any. Neither did Superstore.

Sabzi Mandi had cooking instruments - but they don't have much of a website. So I went straight to the manufacturer's, Hawkins, and had a look for local distributors. And lo and behold, of the three in Canada, one was in Delta, BC - Gagan!

Look at all those Hawkin's Pressure Cookers! Jackpot!

Gagan is, of course, wholesale only. Which means I'm going to have to troll around and find it in real life, and likely nowhere remotely close to home.

Efficient and practical - music to my ears!

And so this is the mission of my post today - to document Day 1 in the ongoing search for a pressure cooker, and to see if anyone reading can help me to acquire this incredibly useful tool!

It was going to take too long to write: "WANTED: PRESSURE COOKER" in beans

Don't miss my latest "PAGE" (see black navigation bar at top of blog): FRUGAL FOOD - Easy Frugal Dishes that Your Mama Didn't Ruin for You! (Free recipes linked to titles!)

My own photos and links to free versions of the recipes! It's a beautiful thing!

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