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  • Melanie Wilson

BFFs--the Tale of the and the Instant Pot and the Air Fryer

This essay was first published in February 2020 on TAPinto, shortly after I realized that both my new Instant Pot and my Air Fryer were the newest members of my appliance graveyard.


“Welcome to the mud room,” the Air Fryer said to the Instant Pot. “I saw you sitting there in your box on the kitchen floor for weeks after the holidays, and I’ve been wondering when you would get released.”


“Here I am,” said the IP. “Fresh and new are rarin’ to go!”


“Yeah, good luck with that,” the AF said.


Despite the occasional snarkiness, my AF and my brand new IP are becoming the best of friends, hanging out on the mud room counter.


They sit. They wait.


Now what, they both wonder.


The AF told the IP about some really fun times when she was new, and experiments happened. Fish. French fries. A whole chicken. Even steak. All good.


“But she told me I was a bitch to clean, so she kind of went back to the frying pain,” the AF said.


The IP sheds a tear, wondering why she, too, isn’t take-out-for-a-spin worthy.


“Was I just conceived in the heat of the moment,” she asked. “Aren’t I wanted?”


I bet you have your own gadget graveyard. Panini maker? Fondue pot? Pasta machine? What else. Oh yeah, one of those silly vegettis? And do you keep accumulating more, thinking that the next one will have the staying power of your mother’s crock pot? Will make you a chef?


Last night I went to one of those “bring your checkbook parties.” You know, the kind where the hostess brings in someone who is selling a product--clothing, skin care, jewelry--and after a demonstration the attendees can buy from a catalog. The product last night was herbs, spices, and, of course, the gadgets to cook them in.


You know where I am going with this. I looked at the glossy ad for the microwave steamer that the woman used to demo a recipe. At least two friends bought it. So I got to chatting with them about their other kitchen gadgets. Turns out they both also have IPs that they are afraid to use.


I summoned my inner Marie Kondo and did not buy the steamer. Then I showed them photos from a class I took last week at the library--a class on how to use an Instant Pot.


“What have you made since you took the class,” they asked me.


Nothing, I told them. But I thought about making water.


What?


Apparently, you can make really good flavored water in an IP. Something about the high pressure infusing the flavor into the water.


One of these always helpful friends offered that you can infuse the water by letting it sit overnight in the fridge. Thanks for that.


Besides making water, here are a few things I now know about IPs.


First off, it’s not really that instant. In all cases, after you put in whatever you are making, you have to wait for the pot to come up to pressure before it actually starts cooking. That can take five to 15 minutes, depending on how much liquid you put in the pot. Then you cook it. Then you have to wait for the pressure to slow release, which takes many minutes more.


So much for instant.


If you have something that doesn’t need a slow release--like pasta or potatoes, then you need to do a fast release. That’s when you have to gather up every pot holder that you have in your kitchen, and maybe the ones for the outdoor grill too, put on your safety goggles, and perhaps throw on a bicycle or ski helmet and approach the IP. Slowly, you are supposed to move the little release lever to allow for the steam to escape. DO NOT PRESS THE RED BUTTON. Repeat, do not press it.


I pressed it.


Yup. This morning, I decided it was time to put on my big-girl oven mitt and take her for a test drive. I had some broccoli in the fridge, so why not try broccoli soup.


I threw in the broccoli, some frozen chopped onion, chicken broth and various seasonings, and turned it on. It came up to pressure, it cooked, then it was done. So I figured it was time to eat it and I pressed the red button to get the lid off. I mean, why else would there be a little red button?


I now know that the button pops up to signify that enough pressure has built up in the pot and cooking time has begun. It is not a release button. There is a lever for that. What happens when you press the red button is that a New York CIty manhole cover explodes in your kitchen. You get the equivalent of a microdermabrasion facial. You won’t have to iron the clothes you are wearing ever again.


The soup was good. Was it faster? I guess so. The whole thing took a long time because I had to call a friend who knew what she was doing along the way and quiz her on every detail. Then I had to figure out what buttons to press to cook, and had to figure out how for how long to cook it. Next time, I’m sure it will be a lot more efficient.


If there is a next time.


For now, I’ll reinstall her in the mud room with her friend AF.


“Welcome home,” I heard AF say to IP just a moment ago. “How’d it go?”


I left them to their girl talk, before I had to hear about what an idiot I am, and how she made both me and the dog jump through the roof.


Maybe I’ll try making water next.


The Instant Pot and the Air Fryer have become the best of friends #instantpot #airfryer #bffs

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