Once in a while, I think about getting a pressure cooker. It's mostly when people tell me how much better home cooked beans are than the canned variety. Then I remember that I like canned beans fine anyway. They're already salted, they are super-convenient, and while they do cost a little more than dried beans, they cost significantly less than a new pressure cooker. I know a pressure cooker would likely wind up sitting next to the dusty dehydrator that never gets to make the tofu jerky and dried pineapple rings I envisioned when I got it, so the pressure cooker isn't likely to find its way into my home.
The 1945 Presto Cooker Recipe Book suggests that Presto was worried that cooks in the '40s were similarly skeptical about how often they would use a pressure cooker. The cover shows it with a variety of meats and vegetables to hint at its versatility:
And the recipes inside give instructions for all kinds of dishes, even ones that do not particularly make sense for a pressure cooker.
You could make cream of wheat--
in about two minutes once the water came to a boil. Or you could just make it in a regular pan in about three minutes.
You could make quick oats--
in about three minutes once the water came to a boil. Or you could make them in the same amount of time in a regular pan.
You could make macaroni--
in 5-6 minutes. Or you could cook it for about 8 minutes in a regular pan. Maybe the pressure cooker was a more exciting option in that it could explode if the cook wasn't careful. Making oatmeal in a regular pan does not present nearly as much danger of having to clean molten oatmeal off the cupboards and ceiling (and your own face and arms if you're unlucky enough to be nearby for the detonation).
The cookbook presented me with other mysteries as well:
Besides the obvious question of why it would be better to make a recipe best suited for stir-frying in a pressure cooker, there is also the question of what makes chop suey American-style, fancy, or plain. These recipes are all quite similar: meat, onion, celery, and a sauce. The American variation is the only one with green beans, so I guess green beans are American. Suggesting the rising reverence toward processed foods, the fancy chop suey has canned Chinese vegetables and bean sprouts. Oddly enough, the plain one sounds fanciest to my modern ears because it has the widest variety of fresh vegetables: green peppers, cabbage, and tomatoes in addition to the celery and onions. Granted, they've been pressure cooked for 8 minutes, so I'm not sure what kind of flavor or texture is left, but at least this version had some variety.
Looking at this cookbook has actually made me less interested in getting a pressure cooker than I was when I started. Presto seems to have accomplished the opposite of their goal...
This post is part of Cookbook Wednesday, now hosted by Modern Day Ozzie and Harriet.