How not to use a combination slow cooker & pressure cooker

Do you have “one of these?”: It’s a combination slow cooker and pressure cooker. And technically rice cooker, but that seems to be part of the pressure cooker part of this.

We have one. We’ve had it for a bit longer than we’ve had MetaCookbook; maybe a year and three months. It was a Christmas gift from Bill’s father. We love it, and we use it often. Mostly to make overnight oatmeal.

Overnight oatmeal is the best. You grab a cup of steel cut oats, a cup of milk, three cups of water and dump them in your slow cooker. Set it on low for about 8 hours, and wake up to a delicious pile of oatmeal. Seven hours or nine, it all works. You can even use all water, but we like the milk. You can add dried fruits as well, and that’s pretty tasty when you do it.

However, what you DON’T do is make overnight oatmeal in this slow cooker on a day when you’ve already found yourself to be utterly spacey. Trust me. If you’ve already put two cups of oats in the cooker insert, because you bought too many for the container you keep your oats in, and then you forget you were going to make oatmeal until someone asks why the insert is on top of the toaster with nothing but oats on it, then it may not be the best day to make overnight oatmeal. If this occurs after you’ve forgotten the bag of bulk rice you planned to buy at the bulk bins, you’ve forgotten the bags you always take to the store and you’ve nearly cut yourself a couple of times with the chef’s knife while cooking dinner, just hand the task of overnight oatmeal off to someone else. It’s not your time to make overnight oatmeal.

Trust me.

If you don’t heed my advice, just make sure someone else in your household is on their game. Otherwise, when you two hear that weird sound, and you write it off as “some water running outside, maybe a hose” that other person can say, “At 11pm??” and go check the kitchen.

This will prevent further disasters.

Because, if you’ve disregarded my advice and made oatmeal anyway, and you are anywhere near as out of it as I am, you’ll have noticed the two buttons that say “high” and “low” when you’re making your oatmeal. You’ll ask your partner “low, right?” and they’ll absentmindly agree. You’ll hit the “low” button eight times to set it for eight hours, and you’ll make sure the valve is set to “steam” and not “pressure”, since you’re using the slow cooker, not the pressure cooker.

Except, of course, that this slow cooker only has one heat level, unlike more standard slow cookers. You, in fact, will be using the pressure cooker. And that “hose” noise? That’ll be the milky steam and oatmeal venting out of that valve at an impressive speed, and causing a HUGE puddle of milky water on your counter. And, of course, covering your coffee grinder, toaster, electric kettle, that mat that you hang on the pot rack to dry and some of your walls in splatters of oatmeal, milk and water. The cooker will be impossible to open, due to pressure build up in the sensor. Of course, it won’t be all pressure. It’ll be clogged with oatmeal too.

You’ll spend about 15 minutes cussing and cleaning up and thanking your partner for figuring out something was wrong before the house burned down (and helping clean up, of course1). And you’ll spend a lot of time the next day with a toothpick cleaning out that valve. There’ll be a surprisingly small amount of laundry from all the cleaning up you had to do, even though you used kitchen towels and dish rags. You’ll unplug everything, except the spare freezer, in case something got too wet. You’ll also be exhausted while all of this is going on.

And, of course, you won’t have oatmeal in the morning.

fn1. In fact, your partner will probably do more cleaning than you did, because you’ll be too befuddled by the day and the moment to react well. You should thank your partner for this as well.