Sometimes publicists working at publishing houses send me unsolicited books. The Pot and How to Use it is one of those books. A first glance at the cover wrinkled my brow. "Roger Ebert?" How many more celebrity cookbooks will I see in my lifetime? Surely it discourages un-celebrity writers from approaching agents and publishers with book proposals.
Anyway, I read it, and I liked it. It was short, to the point, and he repeated the benefits of the pot on and on. Ebert sold me on the pot. I have a rice cooker that I use for rice and sometimes oatmeal. Ebert is the pot guru and suggests that everyone have a pot and cook with it, almost exclusively. The pot appeals to every demographic, forget about those with little space and little means, because Ebert's book and his pot philosophy are applicable to families and those with monstrous kitchens alike.
There are recipes in the back, but the first two-thirds of the book contains short chapters that motivate readers and cooks to buy a pot/rice cooker and experiment. The pumpkin soup intrigues me, as does the smoky split pea soup.Ebert isn't preachy, though he suggests eating a low sodium diet. The knowledge he imparts is common sense, if you think about it.
Cook anything in the pot. Put the things that take longest to cook in first, like beans, carrots, potatoes, then add the meats later. And at the last minute add delicate frozen now peas so that they will be slightly warmed but still crunchy and retain their verdant color. Plus, he encourages readers to make stir fry in the pot, which seems wacky, I know, but apparently works.
And he shared the names of two of his favorite sauces. One is Worchestershire, with which I am long-familiar. The other is Marie Sharp's Exotic Sauce and I shall have to try it. Both are low-sodium. Ebert references the wisdom of his Aunt Mary, who he said had two speeds in the kitchen, cook and serve, and intersperses her authority across chapters. It's rather a "what would Mary do?" type of device.
Apparently, and here I am late to the Ebert party, he has a blog where he expounds on the pot and answers questions about the pot. Included in two long-ish chapters are comments from readers of his blog which relate their experiences with the pot and thank him for promoting the pot because otherwise they would never have known its glories.
Naturally, I think of my pot in a different manner. Sure, I'd love to cook soups in it. Soup is all I want to eat these days. But, well, I guess the trouble with cooking soup on the stove top is that you can't go off and leave it all day to simmer and stew. For safety reasons using the pot makes sense. Wouldn't a crock pot work as well as or better than a rice cooker? And think about how much simpler it was in frontier days when cooks kept a pot of soup/stew hanging in the fireplace--not directly over the fire, of course, but to the side--and so there was always hot meal for all comers.
Thanks be to Roger for his love of the pot and his desire to encourage its love in others.