Instant Pot settings display. Photo source: Wendy Meredith
An Instant Pot Pressure Cooker is a small electronic multi-cooker appliance that can function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, warmer, and more. It is often referred to as an Instant Pot. It is currently the hottest trend in home cooking.
An Instant Pot Cooker can prepare just about any type of food you can imagine. Poultry, beef, and pork recipes, soups, stews, bread, and even desserts.
Considering today’s fast paced lifestyle the Instant Pot is a time saving kitchen helper. Spend a few minutes preparing the recipe ingredients, program the Instant Pot and relax. The Instant Pot cooking method takes the stress out of long cooking times and of meal preparation.
Instant Pot cookers are available in a variety of sizes, styles, and functions. The function of an Instant Pot is based on the model purchased. Many brands are available. Basic functions present in most models consist of slow cooker, pressure canner, steamer, rice cooker, yogurt maker, egg cooker, sauté or browner, and warmer.
When purchasing a multi-cooker consider the usage and quantity of food to be prepared. A 3-quart cooker is just the right size for single servings. Family sizes are available as 6-quart (4-6 servings) or 8 -quart (6-8 servings).
The benefits of an Instant Pot cooker are numerous. No need for constant or frequent stirring, no worry about overcooking or burning, saves energy based on quick cooking times required for recipes and less small kitchen appliances needed for preparation.
Traditionally beef stew and less tender cuts of meat take hours of cooking to render tender. The Instant Pot Cooker dishes up these delicious dishes in under an hour.
Corned Beef Cabbage*
2 pounds corned beef
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
3 bay leaves
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
8 medium red or white potatoes
8 cups coarsely sliced cabbage
Place beef in cooker. Add stock, water, bay leaves, peppercorns, and vinegar in cooker. Cook for 90 on meat/stew setting. Remove corned beef. Add vegetables; cook on high pressure for 4-5 minutes.
*Follow directions listed on Instant Pot instruction manual for programming cooker.
Instant Pot cooking is easy, economical and quick.
Recipe adapted from Cooks’ Essentials.
I did it! Or should I say, I didn’t do it! Or more realistically, I almost didn’t do it! What? Spend money in the month of September. Some of you may remember my wallet really needed a break, so I set a goal to spend no money in the month of September unless absolutely necessary.
Did this help? Yes, my wallet, checking account, and credit cards seem much more at peace. Was it easy? Except for a few bumps and hiccups, it wasn’t too bad. Like a good financial citizen, I paid all by bills and gave at church, I kept gas in my car, and had plenty of food (in my house).
Snafu #1: The food thing was a little trickier when it came to work. I went to a conference and for five days, we only received one dinner, one lunch, and two breakfasts. The people from Idaho brought and gave out great potato chips (but I could not and should not try to live off of those). I brought lots of nuts, granola bars, and small containers of fruit in my suitcase but still had to fork out money for three dinners and one lunch with a little more substance. My traveling companion knew of the goal I had set and was nice enough to buy me dinner one night. (I think I must have looked really sad and hungry.)
Snafu #2: When did September become the season of giving? A wedding and a baby shower brought out the checkbook. Oh well, there are a new bride and mom-to-be who are happy.
At home, the only food I had to buy was bread (yes, I could have frozen some – yuck, or made some – no time) and milk (yes, I could have used the dry milk – yuck to drink) and since I miscalculated the amount of dog food in the house, I had to buy some of that, too. I will give a big shout out for canned and frozen foods. It was no big deal to not go out to eat nor go to the movies or to other forms of entertainment. (The good stuff doesn’t usually come out until October anyway.)
What about my all-important trips to the nail salon? Ha! I found a gift certificate (I love those things) that took care of both trips to the salon.
Though I didn’t go hard-core all the way, I did really well. I feel so much better and I’ve veered off my path toward debtor’s prison (yes, exaggeration).
I am blessed to have a comfortable life so this was not that difficult. One month without extra spending was a free gift I gave myself. See if giving yourself the gift of a no-spend month makes your life better. Then be sure to share your success stories.
Tax season is a very difficult time of year for many people. It is a time when good record keeping is vital. The preparation fee is expensive for many families. Some use computer software to avoid fees. However, in doing so they may overlook some tax deductions.
Free tax preparation has always been offered at the Jefferson County Extension office in Monticello, FL. This year the Tallahassee United Way Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) personnel partnered with the UF/IFAS Jefferson County Extension Office, where they prepared free taxes at the Jefferson County R.J. Bailer Public Library. Appointments were reserved through the library.
A total of 312 Jefferson County residents were helped. The United Way estimated a total of $85,176 were saved in tax preparation fees. Providing these free services to the Jefferson County citizens was a great benefit. For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension, Jefferson County http://jefferson.ifas.ufl.edu
The UF/IFAS Leon and Madison County Extension Offices also provided VITA for their citizens. They use the traditional Skye Program in collaboration with United Way.
The holiday season will soon be upon us. It seems to begin earlier each year placing more stress on both retailers and consumers. Retailers struggle to sell more products while consumers are subjected to a bombardment of messages via ads and media to encourage us to buy more! Through careful planning, the journey can be more emotionally and financially stable.
It is not about sacrifice; it is about opportunity to…..
- Make the commitment to be debt free from holiday expenses on January 1, 2016 through good planning.
- Create a spending plan and log each expense. Use cash and/or debit cards when at all possible. Money coming directly out of your pocket will likely make you think harder about your purchase.
- Stay motivated by finding a support system of people who have similar goals. Share your vision and ask for assistance and support.
- Think of ways to find alternatives to pricey presents. Holidays are about spending time with family and loved ones so don’t let gifts be the focus of your holidays or break your holiday budget.
- Track and assess your spending. Recommit daily to being debt free on January 1, 2016 from holiday expenses.
- Learn more about this subject with worksheets to assist with your planning at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY140500.pdf FCS5267
Recently, UF/IFAS published Five Steps to Seasonal Savings, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY140500.pdf, an EDIS brochure which reminds us of the stress that can result from holiday spending. I would encourage each of you to print or review the brochure and ponder its message TODAY. We are nearing the hustle and bustle of preparing for the season and it is timely information.
The five steps are:
- Recognize Your Seasonal Stressors
- Develop a Holiday Spending Plan – Make a Budget
- Develop a Holiday Spending Plan – Create a List
- Find Alternatives to Pricey Presents
- Fine-Tune Your Financials
It is already early December, the Thanksgiving shopping sale and Cyber Monday have passed but planning is still possible before the 2014 holiday rush if you will take some time to do so.
The section of this brochure that really spoke to me is the Fine-Tune Your Financials. As I do every day, I try to use cash and/or debit cards when possible. I need to see the money leave my account so the holidays don’t haunt me into the new year. There is too big of an allure for me to overspend when I buy gifts with credit. There is not as much reality with credit card spending. Paying interest on the credit debt is even more troubling, as the holiday spirit is long gone before the item is paid for.
Holidays are about spending time with family and friends. It does not need to center on gift giving. Consider your spending plan in the next few weeks for a more financially comfortable 2015.