Cooking and I are not the best of friends. In fact, we haven’t seen eye to eye since I had children and discovered what fussy means. Meals slaved over for hours would be left untouched and I quickly had to learn 101 ways with mince.
My previously huge cooking repertoire and excitement at trying new recipes turned into a limited number of acceptable meals and massive anxiety as each meal time approached.
If you follow me on Facebook, you would have noticed my wailing about my children’s refusal to eat anything different and the triumphant shouts of glee when they try something new and like it.
Thankfully, as they get older, their taste buds and minds are becoming more adventurous, so they are trying more and more new foods, but my anxiety still prevents me from putting effort into cooking things that I might actually like. I stick with the tried and true meals that raise no objections from my two food terrorists.
So how to solve this mess I got myself into?
After several years of hearing wonderful things about slow cookers, I decided that this might be the best option for me, eliminating some of the “hours of slaving” that I associate with cooking.
I realised that I would need a partner in crime though, so I approached Sunbeam and asked if I could review one of their slow cookers on this blog.
Why Sunbeam? You see, the very first kitchen appliance I ever bought, some twenty years ago, was a Sunbeam electric kettle. Said kettle is still going strong and as I like longevity in my appliances, I thought I could not go wrong with Sunbeam.
Thankfully, after checking out that I was legit, the lovely Pam from Thrive PR, suggested that I review the Aviva Pressure Cooker, which is not only a pressure cooker, but also a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a steamer and a fry pan! I knew that this last thing was a brilliant function, eliminating the need for additional cookware to saute and brown your ingredients before placing them in the cooker.
I was so excited when it arrived, that I forced my children out of the house despite massive protests, to go to the supermarket and buy the ingredients for one of the recipes in the included recipe book, chicken provencal, otherwise known as chicken with peppers.
It was all very easy and in no time at all I had the lid on and dinner was cooking using the pressure cooker function.
And here came my first food blogging fail – I forgot to take a photo of the ready meal and it was gobbled up so quickly that I didn’t get a second chance. I had to remove all the “bits” from the boys’ chicken pieces, but the meat was so tender and yummy that they barely raised an eyebrow when eating it.
The quantities in the recipe made enough for two more meals that went in the freezer and the only washing up was the cooking pot insert, the chopping board and the plates.
The recipe book includes a recipe for a Thai pumpkin soup, which gave me the idea to try my standard pumpkin soup (recipe below) using the slow cooker function.
Again, the worst bit was the preparation – all that peeling and chopping! The cooking was easy, though, the saute function is just the right temperature for getting the onions ready. I was a bit worried about them sweating instead of sauteing as the pot is deep rather than wide, but it all worked perfectly.
My pumpkin soup includes a whole lot of other vegetables and I was also concerned that the 5 litre cooking pot would not be big enough to fit them all, but it did!
I have to admit that getting the dinner on in the slow cooker and forgetting about it made me feel very smug. It might have felt strange to go about my dinner preparations at lunchtime, but then it was done and my afternoon was my own. And no panic as five o’clock approached. Brilliant!
There was also a degree of smugness involved when I used the pressure cooker function to have dinner perfectly cooked in much less time than I would ordinarily, especially when I had to go shopping to buy the ingredients.
And there was the smugness/relief when the boys actually ate the chicken provencal (minus the bits).
Overall, I think I’m in love with my new addition to the kitchen. It is quite bulky, so storage could be an issue, but I might just relegate my rice cooker and wok to the garage and use that space for my new friend. Or it might just become a permanent fixture on my kitchen bench.
I love the fry pan function and the whole set and forget approach inherent in the cooker functions. There is no checking, no stirring, no guessing at the right burner temperature – you know – medium high, medium low, high, all depending on which burner you use. Just one temperature and it’s just right. I love having all the guesswork taken out of my cooking.
The cooker is very easy to use. There is an electronic menu to select the cooking function you want and a timer menu to set the duration of the cooking. You can also set a delay for when you want the cooking to start. When the cooking process is finished, the cooker beeps and automatically switches to the “keep warm” setting. There are two pressure cook settings and two slow cook settings.
An instruction manual with a selection of recipes is included, although I would have liked to see more recipes. However, they are just enough to give you an idea of how to adapt standard recipes and even include risottos and desserts. If you want more, the Sunbeam website has a whole lot more. You can even cook roasts in this machine!
And now for my pumpkin soup recipe. Amounts are rough estimates.
Singular Pumpkin Soup
- 1 tbs olive oil
- two onions, roughly chopped
- one medium butternut pumpkin (approx 1.5 – 2kg) chopped into 2 cm pieces
- one sweet potato, chopped into 2 cm pieces
- three medium potatoes, chopped into 2 cm pieces
- 2 medium carrots, chopped into 2 cm pieces
- salt and pepper
- Saute onion in the oil for about 4 minutes, until soft and translucent.
- Add the vegetables and saute, stirring for about 2 minutes.
- Add enough stock to cover the vegetables.
- Bring to the boil and cook until the vegetables are tender. Or use the appropriate slow cooker setting. I set mine for 4 hours on high.
- When vegetables are tender, use a hand blender to puree the soup.
- Season to taste and serve!
If you’d like to follow my further cooking adventures make sure you like my Facebook page and talk to me about your fave slow/pressure cooker recipes.