what i'm reading: the instant pot bible

I've never reviewed a cookbook before, but then I've never been this enthusiastic about a cookbook before: The Instant Pot Bible by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

Why I love this book

Before I bury the lede with a lot of explanation, I'll tell you why I find The Instant Pot Bible so appealing.

-- The design. When you're using a book for information, design and layout are very important. Someone (or someones) really nailed it with this one. I find it incredibly clear and easy to use.

-- The formatting. Ingredient list on the left, step-by-step instructions, IP times and settings highlighted in a chart. And so on. Not only a great format, but more consistent than many other cookbooks I've used.

-- One specific bit of formatting that I find super useful is a gray box called "Beyond". Here, the authors put all the substitutions, extras, and equivalences. I appreciate not having to sort through those to read a basic recipe.

-- Road maps! The Instant Pot Bible includes many mix-and-match, create-your-own recipe strategies that the authors call "road maps". Here's an example.
This is the first page of a two-page recipe.

If you don't want to use these road maps, they're easy enough to avoid. But for me, using a road map means I'm not only following recipes step by step, I'm learning more about cooking.

-- A huge variety of recipes, using a wide range of ingredients and for all different palates -- and using the IP all different ways. 

-- Useful tags, such as "fast and easy," "can be gluten-free," "vegetarian," "can be vegan," "fewer than 10 ingredients," "freezes well," and so on. Using tags to do this, rather than organizing the book according to these categories was very smart.

-- Really good writing! I love the authors' writing style. It's personable, warm, and down-to-earth. They want cooking to be fun and easy -- and they want to gently help you move out of your comfort zone.

-- Everything is explained. I like a cookbook that doesn't assume you already know how to do everything. Equal access for all levels of cooking experience!

The back story

I was a little late to the Instant Pot craze, which turned out to be a good thing, as the newer models are easier to use and safer. I bought my "Instapot" (as I like to call it) about six months ago. I chose the 8-quart Ultra model. I gave away my beloved slow cooker, and have been using the IP for all my batch cooking -- which is almost all the cooking I do.

Until recently, when I needed to know how to make something in the IP, I would just google "Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup," "Instant Pot Beef Stew," or what have you. For variety, I would google "Healthy Instant Pot Meals" or the like.

For the most part, the links that turned up were fake cooking sites. These sites feature recipes copied from anywhere else (often from the Instant Pot site itself), with useless verbiage added for the purpose of forcing readers to click and scroll. They are stuffed with ads, often video ads, that cannot be blocked. I would try to swoop in, get the information I needed, and swoop out. But after a while, the ads, the sameness of the recipes, and the fake-blog writing really started annoying me.

I borrowed a few IP cookbooks from the library, but I most of them had very few recipes for anything I wanted to cook or eat. Then a library customer told me about the Instant Pot Bible.

And not just any customer: Babs, the woman who runs the produce truck that serves the North Island communities during the summer and early autumn. The truck comes into town once or twice a week, rotating through the communities, with high-quality fruits and vegetables that put the supermarket produce to shame.

Babs is a lovely person, a great salesperson, and from what I gather, an accomplished cook. I gave her nonfiction audiobooks all summer, to listen to on her long drives between towns. She told me these audiobooks have changed her life -- the highest praise I can get as a librarian.

When she enthusiastically recommended this book, I gave her word a lot of cred. And now I'm passing along the joy.

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