Sunday, September 30, 2012

Steam Cooking

Just when I think I have every kitchen gadget a girl could need, another one pops up!

This time it was the glory of steam cooking, courtesy of an electric steam cooker!

Yes, I have steamed food in the past, the old fashion way - pot on the stove with a steamer basket to separate the food from the water.  I have even used a bamboo steamer basket.  Neither method all that exciting or efficient.

But when a friend of mine (Hi Jessica!) told me that she cooks almost all her meals in an electric steam cooker, I was intrigued.  I hate buying equipment that only gets used a few times a year, but the possibility of daily use?!?  My investigation began...

What I discovered...

Steam cooking has come a long way from my lonely pot on the stove.  Electric steam cookers have hit the market in droves!  These suckers have tiers, multiple tiers; which separate your food, thus keeping flavors from mixing and allowing for your ENTIRE meal to be cooked by one gadget!

Why I love it...

*I get my time back.  Steam cooking requires no stirring, no doting.  I can set up my tiers and do non-kitchen activities.  It's so freeing!!!

*Steam cooking is quick!

*Steaming maximizes the flavor and color of food.

*Can't screw up.  It's really hard to overcook or burn your food with steam, which adds to easy clean-up as well!

*It's healthy.  No oil needed to prevent sticking and the debate is still out on whether or not microwaves are destroying the nutrients in our food.  I for one, keep my microwaving to a minimum.  Plus, steam cooking is a more gentler way to cook.  Unlike boiling, nutrients are not leached out of the food, leaving the food more nutrient dense.

*It's not just for cooking, but for warming food as well.  I can steam fresh produce in one pan and heat up frozen or canned food in another.

*Food seems to taste better - crisper, more vibrant!  My steamed rice came out better than the rice cooker or traditional stove method.  This is now the only method I use for corn on the cob!

What to look for...

One major thing I discovered was the importance of the material that your steamer is made from - avoid plastic, go for stainless steel.

Just as I avoid cooking or storing food in plastic due to leaching chemicals, I don't want to steam my food in plastic either.  Sure there are a few BPA-free plastic steamers on the market, but I opted for the Secura 3-Tier 6-Quart Stainless Steamer, one of the few stainless steel steamers on the market.  The best price I found was on Amazon for $69.99.  My only regret, not opting for the 9-Quart steamer.  Yes, even for two people, I find the 6 quart a bit small for some things such as corn on the cob.  Also, 3 tiers is not enough for me (I may have an overcooking issue).  Thankfully, the Secura is expandable, just buy extra tiers!!!  I am currently rocking a 4-tier steamer, which for now, seems to be enough and yes I do use them all!

With these expandable tiers, comes the freedom to steam larger items.  Each tier comes with a removable inner pan, allowing you to stack the tiers in essences creating a large pot and steam a bunch of ears of corn or a whole spaghetti squash!   The possibilities are endless!

This unit also heats up in 15 seconds!  No more waiting for water to boil.  The built-in timer helps you from forgetting that you are actually cooking.

What am I steaming...

Unlike my friend, I only steam cook 1-2 times a week and that works for me.

So far I have steamed:
  • Corn on the cob
  • Cauliflower
  • Greens & Onions
  • Whole Squash
  • Carrots
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Sweet & White Potatoes
  • Rice
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Frozen Veggies
  • Canned Beans
  • Re-heated cooked Veggies

The possibilities of steam cooking are endless - what will you steam?

Cook Happy!
The Hoff

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