Pressure Cooker Vegan Lentil Soup

On the myriad cooking shows I watch they often use pressure cookers. I've often wondered to myself if I need one and if I did have one, what exactly I would make with it. 

I never did buy one for myself. I always figured I had the time to wait for the same thing to happen via the stovetop. 

But for some strange reason, my mother bought one. She doesn't even like to cook. Perhaps that factored into her decision. 

When she fell ill, I found myself with the desire to make good use of this appliance on her behalf. It felt therapeutic to create sustenance from this device that she'd bought so soon before she'd become sick. 
Since it's summer and hot, I thought to myself, I can make a complex broth based soup without making the house hot simmering it on the stovetop for a long time. 

My absolute favorite soup meal is lentil soup. It's just the ultimate vegan chicken noodle soup analog. It's the food of memories, childhood and comfort. It will give you a big hug. 


Best Baked Potato You'll Ever Eat

Baking potatoes is pretty easy. You can't really mess it up. The longer you cook them, the softer they get.

Still there is a technique that can yield a fluffier, softer more succulent baked potato in less time than the traditionally accepted cooking methods.

Always cook potatoes with the skin on. The skin is full of nutrients. If you like it also eat the skin. Very healthy and tasty too. Wash potatoes thoroughly if you plan on eating the skins. Under cold running water rub the dirt off the potatoes with the friction of your hands. Use Idaho potatoes for best baking results. You can use regular russets, but Idahos tend to bake up best.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. If you have a convection oven use convection bake.

Poke each potato 3-4 times with a dinner fork.

Place a paper towel on the bottom of your microwave and arrange potatoes evenly on top. Microwave on high for 3 minutes for up to 3 potatoes and 5 minutes for 4-5.

Let potatoes rest a few minutes after microwaving.

When over is preheated add potatoes to the hot oven placing them bare skin directly on the oven rack. Do not use foil to cover your potatoes. This will yield steamed potatoes. We want baked potatoes.

Set oven timer for 30 minutes. 40 if you do not have a convection oven. Turn potatoes (use an oven mitt) once at the midpoint of the cooking process.

When time is up remove potatoes from oven and feel. They should be pretty soft. Let rest for 3-5 minutes on top of the oven grates. This allows for air circulation. So they will cool to the right temperature for touching and eating.

When ready to eat cut a small x in the top and firmly pinch the potato while gently pushing upwards. top with salt and pepper. this is a must. Everything else is optional. These potatoes deserve to be tasted before adding additional toppings. They are that good.

But if you still need more the possibilities are endless. Use a garlic press and squeeze some fresh garlic on. Add some margarine if you like. Rosemary is nice. Beans. Nutritional yeast. Sauteed onion. Olive oil. Balsamic vinegar. Vegan pesto. Dill. Even paprika. Go with what you love.

These baked potatoes are so tender and fluffy - almost like baked mashed potatoes. You'll be amazed at how good a simple baked potato can taste.