My husband loves to tell the story of how his mother blew up their kitchen with her pressure cooker many years ago. It's apparently the kind of story that's amusing when no one is maimed. But you can understand why I might not have wanted to welcome such an appliance into my own kitchen. I prefer to stick with things that don't blow up.
These days, though, there's a tendency to get back to basics. We're making more of our own food, and it turns out the pressure cooker was once popular for a reason: it can cut cooking times up to 70 percent over traditional stovetop methods. And today's models are modern enough to have moved past that pesky exploding thing.
The Cuisinart CPC-600 is a roomy, 6-quart cooker with a tight seal that lets you lock in flavor and nutrition. Push-button programming makes it as simple to use as a microwave, and you can't open it too early--it locks you out when the pressure is anything above zero.
At around $150, it's a bit pricey. You can definitely find cheaper models--but they won't have all the digital features this one offers.