Is there no end to small kitchen appliances? No, apparently not. Jerry and I both are fascinated by them. I have to confess that we've been known to buy these gizmos and not use them much after the new wears off. When was the last time we used the Showtime Rotisserie? Don't ask.
Jerry has been interested in the Ninja Cooker for a while now. I did everything I could to discourage him, thinking that it was pretty much like the two slow cookers we've already got. And I figured if it wasn't like them, surely it was a clone to the three West Bend cookers that I've had for at least 25 years. (One of these West Bend cookers was inherited from my mother.) I like the West Bends and use them fairly often.
So I asked myself - Why do we need a Ninja Cooker? At $159.00, it's got to be more than a cool-looking appliance with a cool-sounding name. What does it do? After doing some internet research, I found that it really is a different animal from the other appliances in our kitchen collection.
I read the fine print on my 20% off Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon and saw that Ninja Cookers were not listed in the exclusions. So off I went to Baton Rouge. I came home with a Ninja Cooker from BB&B and a nice little enameled cast iron Dutch oven from Walmart - but that's another story. When I went to bed that night, the Ninja was unpacked, washed, and ready to go the next morning.
What sets the Ninja apart from our other appliances is that it has both Stovetop and Slow Cooker settings. The Stovetop settings (high, medium, and low) make it like cooking on top of the stove. It gets hot enough to brown meat or sauté vegetables. The Slow Cooker settings (high and low) turn it into a slow cooker. There is also a Buffet setting which keeps food warm after it's done. And if all this is not enough, there's an Oven setting - more about that later.
I had not been grocery shopping for ingredients to make one of the recipes in the little book that comes with the Ninja. Besides, I wanted to see if I could fix my old favorite recipes in this critter. It was 8:00 a.m. when I got out a frozen block of ground meat and put it in the Ninja on the low Stovetop setting. About thirty-five minutes later, the meat was completely defrosted.
I could have probably defrosted this meat in a skillet on top of the stove in fifteen or twenty minutes, but I would have had to stand over it, scrapping layers of meat off as it defrosted, and watching to be sure it didn't burn. In the thirty-five minutes that the Ninja took to do this job I made the beds, straightened up my bathroom, and did a few other chores.
I turned the Ninja to the Stovetop high setting and browned the ground beef - it sizzled, just like on top of the stove. Then I added chopped onion and bell pepper, turned it to Stovetop medium, and let that cook a few more minutes. The plan was to continue on and make my homemade spaghetti sauce.
But about that time, it came to my attention that the CPA needed a piece of paperwork from us before he could file our taxes. Since this was the Friday before taxes were due, I had to race off to Baton Rouge to deliver the needed document.
I started to turn the Ninja off and forget about cooking until I got back, but then I remembered it's a slow cooker as well as a stovetop. I gave up on my homemade sauce recipe since I knew it would be lunch time by the time I got back home. I dumped a jar of ready-to-use spaghetti sauce in with the ground beef and vegetables, stirred, turned the Ninja to Slow Cooker high, put the lid on and headed for Baton Rouge.
When I got home two hours later, the sauce was perfect! I think I'm going to like the Ninja. It takes interruptions in stride, and interruptions are all too common around this place. Cleaning the non-stick, lightweight cooking pot was quick and easy. There's more to tell about the Ninja. Stay tuned.