Does the “Big Bang” (still) Scare You?

Fear of the pressure cooker has held back prospective preservers from their sweet dreams of jams, jars of straight up-right green beans, fresh as summer vegetable soups all lined up in the pantry. You feel like you can survive swine-flu, apocalypse and 3’ January snow-storms with this stash of food you’ve put up with your own chubby little hands. This feeling of food empowerment awaits those that have overcome that fear of the Big Bang due to a dangerous kitchen appliance, the pressure cooker.

We garden and because of my “crunchy”, earth-mother nature, my DB bought one of those Gi-GOON-dough All-American ”Professional quality, extra heavy duty cast aluminum construction throughout for fast & even heating” pressure canner for Christmas. That year I put up jars and jars of stewed chicken and ranch beans. I was enthusiastic. I was tired. The thing weighs at least 15 pounds, not what I’d call portable to a cook date. No. Not me. I still have it though and use it for low-acid food canning.

There came a time when a discussion on the cooking forum erupted on pressure cookers. I think maybe Lorna Sass (see her video below) had branded everybody at the Personal Chefs Network (RIP) that year. I could buy an everyday use pressure cooker!! From that discussion, I high-tailed it over to Amazon and purchased an 8L Fagor Duo. I haven’t looked back since. I use the thing in a weekly bean-a-thon. Umami Ranch Pinto Beans in seventeen minutes!! (Yeee-Haaaa!!) I tote the light-weight, 00208 qt cooker to cooking gigs for 2 minute (TWO=MINUTE) Vegetarian Ratatouille. I use it as a regular ol’ pot on my one client that insists on keeping an induction cooktop. It is truly a big part of my cooking kit that I’m so happy I acquired.

Here’s a link to (A totally free shout-out to Fagor here. I’m not selling the cooker, I’m just showing you the info) Fagor in the event this article has convinced you to give pressure cooking the benefit of the doubt.

+Adler smoked salt, sea salt, cider vinegar. Umami Ranch Beans tasting

Umami Ranch Pinto Beans


Bean cooking for me is a “sniff and taste” exercise that has little to do with measuring. Everything in this style of cooking is “to your taste”. This recipe is prepared to My taste, here and will be prepared to Your taste, where you are.

Umami Ranch Beans

Here’s how:

A couple of girly-handfuls of dried pinto beans, soaked overnight. I brine the soaking water with a tablespoon of kosher salt. This brining keeps the beans from getting mushy.

Ingredients - soaked pinto beans, apple cider vinegar, sorghum, onion, garlic, miso paste, spices

Ingredients for Umami Ranch Beans

Spices: Penzey’s Chili 3000 (but use any fresh chili powder), Epazote or oregano, chilpotle chili powder, ancho chili powder, hot paprika, salt (I use alder smoked salt from Golden Fig, MN, nice, but not necessary), whole cumin seed ground in the mortar with the pestal (you can use just ground cumin).

Other important ingredients: 1 tablespoon red miso, 1 medium chopped onion, 6 cloves chopped garlic, a can of tomatoes with jalapenos, 1 teaspoon molasses or brown sugar, and a splash of apple cider vinegar. Optional ingredients: one-half cup of coffee, one teaspoon or cube of vegetable bouillon.

Toasting the spices:

Have all your chopping and handfuls/ teaspoons/tablespoons of this and that ready to go into the pot. This cooking is on HIGH until the top of the pressure cooker is locked down, so the preparation needs to go kinda fast. It’s a bit like a stir-fry in this respect.

The pot is on the gas eye, heating up on HIGH. I’ve added a tablespoon of organic Canola (Spectrum – no product placement ad, just FYI), and the spices. The spices start to heat up infusing the trailer kitchen with mouth-watering aromas. This cooking of the spices goes on for a minute. Then the next part occurs.

+paprika, cumin, epazote, chilies

Little piles of paprika, cumin and 3 chili powders

cooking spices

Spices are toasted in the hot oil until fragrant.

The garlic and onion gets tossed into the spices and combined. WAIT on the additional salt and vinegar, that will go in before you sit down to eat them, but while they’re still hot.

+soaked pintos, tomatoes, miso, sorghum

In go the soaked and brined beans, the tomatoes and jalapenos, and the miso. If you’ve got any coffee from this morning left over you can add one-half cup Joe here now.

+ water

Add water to cover by one-half inch(ish)

pressure-cookery pop-ups

Pop-up pressure indicator on the Fagor pressure cooker

Add water to cover beans by one-half inch. Then comes the scary part; the locking of the lid .

Lock down the lid of the pressure cooker. When the pressure gauge pops up, set the timer to seven minutes and reduce the heat to LOW. Go do something else. Clean up.

In seven minutes, turn off the timer and the cooktop. Move the pressure cooker to a cool element and re-set the timer to ten minutes to allow the pressure to come down naturally. Go do something else. Make rice, or greens, or cornbread. That would be good. When the timer goes off again, gently open the lid in the event there is steam still built up inside, this has never happened to me, but the instructions warn against it, so I’m passing that along to you. And there you have it; Umami Ranch Beans from Beth and the Biscuit.

Here are a couple of other intriguing recipes I found while researching this article today:

Rice Cooker (and pressure cooker) Orange Marmalade from Aroma Kitchen blog:

A gorgeous German Rouladen from Healthy BBQ blog. This recipe looks like something a client would have on their “Have Again” list.

Lorna Sass is in her mirrored-backsplash kitchen (how smart for cooking videos!!) using a second generation pressure cooker to prepare Chicken Soup with Lentils and Spinach. This is the first video, there’s another one if you’re interested.

That’s all for now. Go get cooking!! B.

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