The Return of the Practical Cook

Gentle readers, it’s good to see you again. After a rather long hiatus that included an unanticipated kitchen remodel and an evolving set of household eaters, it’s time to put knife to chopping board and fingers to keyboard again.

I experienced a major flooding event this past summer–a cold water connection, the braided steel that leads into a sink, burst while we were on vacation. It is every homeowner’s nightmare, and led to a six month absence and took things down to the studs in over 80% of the house.

But from chaos comes innovation, and forced change can be good change, and that’s where this story starts. I had to pack up my whole kitchen and leave within 3 days. I had some choices to make about putting things back just the same or making changes. And how was I going to cook without my beloved grill in a rental kitchen half the size?

There will be more stories about what one should take in such circumstances, and lots on renovating kitchens, but today is about food and my new love, the Instant Pot. I held out, thought it was faddish, turned a deaf ear to the wonders. Then the Black Friday sales pitches started and I caved.

Much like the Return of the Jedi, in this case the Instant Pot was my light saber. I remembered that I could cook. I remembered that I could make legit food from scratch. And I remembered that if I wrote it down, I could refer back to it later. (Many of my cookbooks suffered water damage, and I used this very blog to access recipes during my time of kitchen separation.)

This won’t become the definitive Instant Pot site, and I can’t promise you’ll even like the recipes. But Gentle Reader, this one is for me. So join along if you so choose, and I’ll get back to business in the kitchen.


The Practical Cook Vegetarian Instant Pot Jambalaya

Tools Used: Instant Pot 6 Quart Duo


1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
pinch of Mexican oregano
20 oz package of mixed bean soup, cajun style (I used Hurst beans for this, readily available in most grocery stores)
1 cup or so cooked, leftover rice (never waste that 3rd carton of rice from the cheap Chinese place down the street, put it in the freezer now and thank me later)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Salt and Pepper



  1. Plug in your Instant Pot and make sure you have the lid ready and set up for Sealing.
  2. Using the Sauté function, heat the oil in the steel insert pot and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Crumble the pinch of Mexican oregano on tops and stir. Sauté for a few minutes until the veggies are softened slightly.
  3. While the veggies are sautéing, rinse the dried beans and set aside the seasoning packet.
  4. When the veggies are softened, add the rinsed beans and 7 1/2 cups of water to the Instant Pot, stir to mix. Hit cancel, put the lid on and lock it, and using Manual Pressure Cook, set the IP for 30 minutes on high.
  5. Take this new-found time that you are cooking for your family to read a book, write a blog post, do a crossword puzzle. I won’t tell. Yell out from the kitchen how hard you are working, take a selfie with your IP, live life.
  6. When the time is up, use the Quick Release method to release pressure, please don’t burn yourself.
  7. Remove the lid, add the tomato sauce, the spice packet, and the cooked rice. Stir and adjust seasonings as needed. If it’s too soupy, keep stirring and let the beans and rice absorb some liquid. You can always add more rice or water to adjust, but don’t react too fast before the dish finds its balance (Zen jambalaya).
  8. Using silicone mits or hot pads, remove the pot from the cooker, and check seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you need meat, you can serve with cooked chicken, sausage, etc. There are some veggie versions that would work as well, but we went straight hot sauce and let the good times roll.

Until next time, would love to hear what you’ve been cooking!


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Filed under Kitchen Tool Talk, Recipes

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