Q. My mother-in-law recently gave me her pressure cooker, but I've heard so many horror stories about them that I'm afraid to use it. Are pressure cookers safe?
A. Pressure cookers are special pots with airtight, locking lids that feature a valve system that regulates internal pressure. Steam that builds up inside the pot cooks the food at a very high temperature. This ability to cook at extremely high temperatures means foods that take hours -- such as dried beans -- can cook in a fraction of the time, and "regular" meals can be on the table in minutes.
Although we've all heard the urban legends about exploding pressure cookers, modern pressure cookers are equipped with safety features to prevent such mishaps. These include lids that must be locked into place before pressure will rise, an expanding rubber gasket that prevents you from removing the lid until the pressure has been released to safe levels, and a safety valve that automatically reduces the pressure should there be a malfunction or in the event that you forget to turn down the heat when high pressure is reached.
The next page offers tips on how to use an ice cream maker. Keep reading to find out how to make yummy, homemade ice cream in your own kitchen.