Every Mama Needs a Birthday Toy

And mine came in the form of a Fagor 3-in-1 Electric Cooker. We all have our little quirks. To each their own. And all that.

This brilliant little device is a pressure cooker, slow cooker and rice cooker all in one square foot of counter space. I had never used a pressure cooker before, and didn’t even know I wanted one. What I thought I wanted was a slow cooker that could adjust to higher temperatures for browning onions and whatnot. I have used a pressure canner lots of times, but never a pressure cooker. Though the quick cooking was alluring, I never particularly liked the idea of including 4 foot steam jets and manic jiggling weights in the process of cooking dinner.

But when I found this device online, and read all the reviews, it sounded worth a try. Even if the pressure cooker part was a blow out, I would still have a very nice slow cooker, with both “brown” and “warm” settings. I gave it a go.

The first time I used it I was afraid it wasn’t working. I mean literally I was thinking I would have to send it back. No steam was coming out, no jiggling or any other noise at all. It just sat there quietly, supposedly cooking my beans.

When the programmed 25 minutes were up, and it clicked off, I went over to see just what was up. There is a little knob on top that you flip closed for “pressure” or open to let the steam out. I flipped it. Hello geiser of garbanzo steam!!! Wow. I guess it really was working. When it finally cooled enough to open, I found beautifully cooked beans, ready for a giant batch of hummus. It took 25 minutes of pressure. I was impressed.

Since then I have cooked in it every day, often more than once. I have named it Trixie. I’m pretty certain it’s trans-gendered, but I can’t figure if she used to be a he, or vice-versa. So, I’ll stick with “it” till they invent a gender neutral animate pronoun. Sorry, Trix.

see what i mean?

I have thus far cooked all my favorite beans, in big batches for the freezer, cuz Trixie’s got back, if ya know what I mean. 6 quart capacity to be exact.

The chick peas as mentioned took 25 minutes of pressure. Black beans took only 11 (who knew they’d be so different?) and French lentils a mere 7 minutes!!! The first two were soaked overnight. But the lentils, just straight into the pot and on. Of course, it takes a few minutes to heat up to pressure, then you have to wait for it to cool unless you want to unleash The Geiser into your already hot and sweaty kitchen. So, that was maybe 30 minutes from start to finish for the lentils. Still. Pretty fabulous. And the waste heat is very minimal. The sides and top are hot when it’s on, but not too hot to touch. There is a very little amount of steam jetting right at first, just as it sets the pressure. But after that, the electronic sensors I guess keep everything in perfect balance so that there is no steam escaping.

Brilliant. You know that I am a ludite at heart, but I can be convinced towards “appropriate technology,” and lemme tell ya, this baby is appropriate.

The slow cooker function has actually taken a full back seat. I mean, why take all day to cook something I can cook in less than an hour? The point anyway was just to keep my kitchen cooler.

I have used it though, once for a casserole of yams, sausage and greens, which was very good. Once for a moose roast which I cooked for an untrackable number of hours (somewhere between 12 and 20!), and it was still not truly tender…?

Trixie makes me dinner. don't worry, it's purely platonic

And I’ve used Trix several times for what will be it’s prime function I think– baking.

I am still working on this, I’ve had some success and some failure. Steamed bread is very moist, sometimes to a fault. There is no crust at all, and the top is damp and sticky. I inherited (from my dad) a love of Boston brown bread, a traditional steamed bread, heavy on the molasses and raisins. So of course I tried a batch of that, and it was perfect. I’ve done a couple of loaves of yeasted bread and a chocolate cake. One of the breads was the 5-minute artisan recipe, which was a dismal failure. It was pretty far fetched, since it’s supposed to bake at 450, and is half about the crunchy crust. The natural moistness of that recipe made a positively gluey, pretty much inedible bread when steamed.

But my whole wheat bread, with a normal amount of yeast, worked pretty well. A quite different texture than oven baked, to be sure. The day of “baking” it was too sticky and moist for my taste. But two days later, when my oven baked wheat would have been dry and stiff, the steamed bread was soft and moist. Reminded me of store bought, not in flavor because of course mine had the clean, wholesome flavor of real food, but in texture– soft and moist with a close, fine crumb. Not as good as oven baked for toast, but better for sandwiches. And since I had thought the Hot Season meant an end to homemade bread, I am pretty excited about this. The amount of waste heat is extremely minimal compared with an oven.

The chocolate cake was good, but I suspect would have been better if I had not forgotten about it overnight!!! Yes, Trixie has the sometimes handy, sometimes not so, feature of switching to “warm” when the preset time on either “slow cook” or “pressure” has finished. So my chocolate cake, which I put on for one hour if I remember right, then sat at “warm” for another 8 or 9 hours. It was still surprisingly good, but not so moist and yummy as I imagine it could be. I will certainly be doing more experimentation with that.

Wow. Why are you still reading? You people have an incredible appetite for my completely over the top analyzations of anything and everything! I’m so glad! And for your reading pleasure I will doubtlessly continue to over-analyze everything related to homemaking, at every available opportunity.

Lucky you!

And lucky me.

8 thoughts on “Every Mama Needs a Birthday Toy

  1. I just got one of these electric cookers!! 29.99 at Costco. I have only used it for rice, perfect every time. Mine has a brown rice setting that works really great. I would really like your recipe for that casserol, and how you cooked it in the electric cooker. It looks really good!!

    1. sorry, no recipes. didn’t i mention my by-the-seat-of-my-pants cooking style? but basically, i browned the onions and sausage in Trix, then added cut up sweet taters, and slow cooked 3 or four hours. till tender. then i added the greens and let cook a few more mins. the macaroni was cooked seperately, i had it in the fridge from the day before. but it was also cooked in Trixie, which i forgot to mention in the post! oh yeah, great for cooking pasta without filling the house with dripping hot steam! i set it on brown until the water boiled. then, i can’t remember. i think i went back and forth between brown and slow cook to keep it at a low boil. the foodie police always say no cooking pasta with the lid on, and nothing short of a rolling boil, but i thought it came out perfect with the lid on the whole time, and lots of times where it had fallen into a low simmer. more rules, broken.
      i have to say, that there casserole was really as good as it looks. yum. very satisfying. but can you tell i can’t let go my winter food tooth?

  2. i’m ready to buy. you should embed an advertisement in your blog, honey, i bet you could arrange a kick-back.

    i’m def. going to want recipes if i buy this thing.

  3. Sometimes I find meat can get overcooked in a slow cooker, and there is no return, esp. better quality cuts. Maybe moose is too ‘gamey’ or lean?

    But a slow cooker that I can do ‘browning’ in is something I had been looking for! I do own a pressure cooker and can do the best ribs in them, plus curries and soups are great too… but a combination cooker is a great idea and saves space!!

    1. why in the world do they make so many slow cookers that don’t brown? requiring an extra dish for no good reason. i mean, the cooking element is in there, it’s got a high and low setting, why not break into the brown? i mean, come on!

  4. Yum!! What a wonderful addition to the family. I am still pining for a slow cooker, but my big huge cast iron pot is a good substitute. xx

  5. Hah, CJ, I’m wheat-free, and not a baker at all, and desperate for my bed, but Dave’s stuck late at work at the nearly-6-month-old Lauren seems to have found the vodka-Red Bull again! Anyway, I pretty much skipped (could kindly call it skimming) from the start of the bit about baking to your final paragraph- made me laugh out loud! Love your style, though, and glad to hear your brain’s on it’s (sorry, her?) way back to us.

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