June Guidry got her first pressure cooker as a 23-year-old bride. That was back in 1955, and Guidry has been cooking “under pressure” ever since.
“We literally use our pressure cookers every day,” said Guidry, who stays active and fit by swimming several mornings a week. “It’s the best way to cook fresh, healthy foods and it doesn’t take a lot of time or work.”
Guidry’s passion for pressure cooking is infectious, and she has passed her knowledge and love of this once-fashionable and still underappreciated method of cooking down to her children.
Her two grown daughters, Kathy Guidry and Aimee Marlborough, are enthusiastic pressure cookers, and have adapted many of their mother’s favorite recipes for their own healthy lifestyles.
“With a pressure cooker and some basic supplies kept in your pantry and refrigerator, a fast, healthy meal is less than an hour away,” said Marlborough, whose husband, Joey, cultivates a large vegetable garden in the backyard that supplies many of the ingredients for the family’s pressure-cooked meals. “You can easily cook meals that you feel good about serving and that your family will really enjoy.”
As a child, Marlborough was fascinated with her mother’s pressure cooker, and always a little afraid it might explode. She was also proud of the vegetables her mom would cook in it and serve to her friends.
“They would love her vegetables and wanted their moms to cook like my mom did,” Marlborough said. “Her secret was cooking under pressure. It made food moist, delicious and nutritious. An inexpensive cut of meat could be made into a tender delicacy. Sweet potatoes never tasted so sweet. Red beans, roast, stews, soups, gumbo, vegetables, stuffed artichokes … everything at our house was prepared under pressure.”
Cooking under pressure means that liquid converted to steam, not fat, cooks food. It’s three to 10 times faster than other cooking methods. Most importantly, all the water- soluble vitamins, minerals, flavor components, even color and texture are preserved.
It’s also more convenient than ever. Pressure cookers on the market today have more settings and more safety features than the one on which June Guidry learned to cook. They are equipped with better locks to ensure the lid stays securely fastened and several settings, which enable the steam to be released gradually.
All of which makes them ideal for today’s busy, health-conscious lifestyle. The Marlborough family, for instance, is extremely mindful of what they eat. Aimee Marlborough considers herself a “vegetarian health nut” and makes nutrition a daily part of her home-school curriculum. (She home-schools Zoe, 8, Madeleine, 5, and Zack, 3.)
“We try to eliminate harmful pesticides from our diet,” Marlborough said. “We also avoid processed packaged foods, trans fats and sugar, which makes pressure cooking ideal for us.”
Cooking, meanwhile, is a family affair at her home, and the pressure cooker plays a prominent role. Though not every dish they make is done in the pressure cooker — Joey Marlborough bakes homemade bread every Saturday, for instance, with help from the kids — many of the family’s weekday meals are prepared in the pressure cooker. Meals can be planned in advance, and large quantities are often cooked at once, with extras going in the freezer for busy weeknights.
“We even brought our pressure cooker on a trip to Hawaii last summer,” Marlborough said.
June Guidry’s other daughter, Kathy Guidry, is also an avid pressure cooker. Together, she and Marlborough have created several recipes in the pressure cooker, including Pesto Lentils.
“Cooking is a work of the heart, and an important tradition in our family,” Marlborough said. “I like to share our pressure cooker recipes and hope people will give pressure cooking a try. Those who try it may just find the joy of pressure cooking irresistible.”