The pressure cooker saves the day (Vegan cooking with one pot)

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by JL Fields on December 4, 2012

If you’ve been reading my posts about moving from New York to Colorado (here is Part 1 and Part 2), you know that Atlas Van Lines still has all of our belongings.  We are hopeful that they will arrive tomorrow.  I only packed a few cooking utensils to take in the car cross-country: my small pressure cooker, a cutting board and small knife, a small mixing bowl and spoon, tongs, a small colander, a corkscrew, a french press, and plastic plates/bowls/cups + utensils for two.  On the day we arrived in Colorado we made a quick run to Target to pick up things like towels, bath soap, cleaning products, etc. I also picked up a measuring cup, a $1 can opener, and plastic containers to store food. I figured that could round-out my kitchen supplies for a week.

On Friday evening I made my first home-cooked meal.  I pulled out the pressure cooker and did some math.  Why? It turns out you need to add 5% cooking time for every 1000 feet of elevation over 2000 elevation, so, at 6000+ feet in Colorado Springs, I need to add 20% cooking time when using the pressure cooker.  In addition to cooking at a higher altitude for the first time I was also using the pressure cooker on an electric stove for the first time – what a big change from a gas stove!

I started basic. I made brown rice.

After washing the pressure cooker I put it back on the stove and pretended it was a large sauce pan, using it uncovered to make this.

Black-eyed peas (canned) sautéed in low-sodium vegetable broth, garlic, onion, tomato, and sriracha served over brown rice and topped with vegan sour cream and Sriracha. On the side? A small cucumber, apple, and basil salad with lemon juice and black pepper.

After four days on the road eating at restaurants, grocery stores or ordering room service, this was a very exciting meal for me. It was also delicious.

The next morning I made steel-cut oats for breakfast.

Serves 4

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup diced apple
  • 1 large medjool date, chopped
  • Dash of sea salt

Bring to pressure, cook at pressure for 3 minutes (3:30 minutes at 6,000+ feet elevation!) and allow for a natural release.

Later, for lunch, I tried my hand at a quick “meat and potatoes” kind of stew.

Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion
  • 1/4 cup peppers, diced (I use orange, yellow and red)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 1/4 cup mix of celery and carrot, diced
  • 3 cups fingerlings potatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups tomatoes, diced
  • 1 8-ounce package seitan, cubed
  • 1 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

Saute the olive oil, onion, peppers, and garlic for 3 minutes.  Add all other ingredients, stir, and cover the pressure cooker.  Bring to pressure and cook at pressure for 6 minutes (6:30 minutes at my elevation!).  Allow for a natural release.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I served this stew-like dish with a side of kale massaged with avocado and lemon juice.  My omnivore husband loved this meal!

Monday I pulled together a quick lunch.

Serves 4

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Peppers, diced
  • Onion, chopped
  • Garlic, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 8-ounce package tempeh

Saute the olive oil, peppers, onion, and garlic for 3 minutes.  Add all other ingredients, stir, and cover the pressure cooker.  Bring to pressure and cook at pressure for 6 minutes (6 1/2 minutes at my elevation!).  Allow for a natural release.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I served a cup of chili over a half cup of brown rice and enjoyed it with a side salad of romaine lettuce, apple, balsamic vinegar and black pepper.

This morning I had a craving for an avocado and tomato toasted sandwich. Oops! No toaster. So I made toast in the oven.

I baked the bread, on foil, at 400F for 15 minutes, flipping at the half-way point.  I mashed an avocado onto the toast and added tomatoes slices, salt and pepper.

New favorite breakfast (or lunch)!

You can see that we’re using the same patio dish set for every meal – and the ever-fancy GladWare plastic containers as bowls.  And I used pretty much the same ingredients – onion, garlic, peppers, veggie broth – simply because we chose to buy small at the grocer because we have so many dry goods and pantry items traveling with the movers.  We have loved the hearty cooked and raw meals filled with the five fabulous vegan food groups:  vegetables, fruits, legumes/beans, grains, and nuts/seeds.

I kind of like that this move forced me to keep my cooking nice and simple. I got back to basics and was reminded that eating vegan is easy, healthy and positively delicious.

  • Northwest Herbivore

    I thought of you tonight when I made dinner in the pressure cooker out of odds and ends from the fridge and freezer: black-eyed peas with chipotle-style Field Roast, winter squash and kale, with plenty of onion/garlic/smoked salt/Cajun seasoning. It went so fast I didn’t even have time to make rice to go with it, and it was really tasty. Thanks for all the pressure cooker nudges that finally got me to buy a set.

    I’m glad the move and settling-in is going so well! I hope you get the rest of your kitchen back soon.

    • JL

      @fb1c2b81280b6364671ba460337470b3:disqus That sounds delicious! I love that you are embracing your pressure cooker! 🙂 Rumor has it the movers will be here mid-day (fingers crossed!)

  • Wait, wait, wait, wait… you MASSAGED the kale?!?

    • JL

      Wait, @pazzaglia1:disqus , you HAVEN’T massaged your kale?! You are in for a treat! When you massage kale in oil, or avocado, or lemon juice + optional sea salt – with your hands – it breaks the kale down beautiful and it’s so lovely to eat raw! I usually massage it (with bare hands!) and refrigerate it 30 mins or so before eating. TASTY!

      • I just started using a mezzaluna to massage my kale salads and chop at the same time. It works like a wonder and saves your hands from a mess. I got the tip from Chef AJ

        • JL

          Oh, @facebook-100003858333601:disqus , that sounds interesting! Will have to look into it! Though, I confess that after taking cooking classes and having instructors encouraging us to get our hands in there, I just love it. I feel so connected to the food! LOL

  • you are so smart JL. It’s true, moving helps you realize how little you really need. you are wise to have moved your spices and stuff. we had to get rid of ours because we were moving in 100 degree temperatures. It’s taken a year to just get a basic supply build back up.

    • JL

      @bitt:disqus , yes, that was my fear re: spices! When the moving company came back the second time I showed them my mason jars filled with beans and grains, plus all my spices, and confirmed they would take them. Whew! Can’t wait to get my hands on them! 🙂

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