Before now I’ve never cooked anything in my life.

I know it’s hard to believe but at 43 years old I had never purchased raw ingredients to cook a meal.

How can that be possible? You ask.

Well ... thanks to Bojangles and generous friends who cook and invite me over, I’ve never actually had to cook for myself. Until now.

I’ve finally started cooking. And you know what it took to get me to this place in life?

An Instant Pot.

“But Severo, we’ve been knowing about Instant Pot for years now” is what you’re probably thinking. And I know. I’m late to the game. But there are a lot of folks out there who, like me, have either never heard about it or know the name but didn’t think it was for them.

I thought I could just coast through life never having to cook anything. I’ve never used the stove or oven at my house. And I was perfectly happy that way. Then my friend Kelly asked if I wanted her Instant Pot because she didn’t use hers and it was just taking up space in her kitchen.

An Instant Pot is a brand of multicookers. It’s electronically controlled and it’s a combined pressure cooker and slow cooker. From what I understood, the great thing about it was that it cut cooking time down significantly.

And since Kelly was just giving me an Instant Pot for free I took it.

But then I put it in a cabinet and forgot about it. Then one day Doug Walker brought a couple venison roasts to work because he didn’t have the freezer space for them. That’s when I thought I’d give the Instant Pot a try. I looked on social media site Pinterest for an Instant Pot roast recipe and to my surprise there were hundreds. So I picked one that seemed easy and went to the grocery store for some ingredients.

Side note: Since I’d never purchased actual raw ingredients for ANYTHING before, it was like I was on a scavenger hunt. Trying to find a BAY LEAF in Publix had me feeling like Indiana Jones on some epic quest.

But I digress. I got the ingredients home and was actually excited about trying out the Instant Pot.

Y’all it was so simple and easy to use. I know some people are hesitant to use a pressure cooker. I’ve had some people tell me their mamas or their grannies had pressure cookers and it always scared them. I can understand that. But if I could use it without killing myself then you can too because I’m the least kitchen-savvy person you have ever met.

So anyway, I did what the recipe told me. I sautéed the meat (there’s a sautée button on the Instant Pot), I dropped in the spices and the elusive bay leaf and the potatoes and carrots, and it said set it to 34 minutes which seemed like not enough time. But who am I to question Pinterest?

Another side note, I learned a lot trying to cook this one meal (here are a few examples):

1. I don’t know the difference between beef stock and beef broth.

2. None of the knives in my house are sharp.

3. I don’t have a cutting board at my house.

4. Dale’s Seasoning was sent straight from heaven. (I already knew this, but the Instant Pot reinforced this fact.)

5. There’s a different measuring cup for wet and for dry ingredients.

After 34 minutes my roast was done and it was FANTASTIC if I do say so myself. For my first time cooking ANYTHING, it turned out delicious. So then I sent all my friends photos of my roast and told them that the culinary arts were my passion.

Since that first roast, I’ve made rice, chicken breast and beef stew. That may not seem like a big deal to y’all but to me it’s a miracle. And I know there are folks out there just like me who have never even tried to cook entire meals before.

But this is 2021 and we’re changing things up. We’re doing more for ourselves and we’re doing better for ourselves this year. Get you an Instant Pot or any other type of electronic pressure cooker. It makes preparing meals so much faster and easier.

It’s like I’ve become the unofficial spokesperson for Instant Pot because now I tell everyone how great it is and they need to get one. They come in a couple different sizes depending on your needs and the internet has thousands of Instant Pot recipes. Did you know you can make ribs and wings in the Instant Pot? You can make soups, stews, dips and even desserts.

As I start this new chapter of my life — and by chapter I mean where I prepare meals for myself instead of going to Taco Bell every day — I hope that those of you who were previously on the fence about the Instant Pot at least know that someone who is a complete IDIOT when it comes to cooking, now feels a lot more confident in the kitchen.

I guess I’m gonna have to get me an air fryer next.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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