If you bought a countertop appliance last year, chances are pretty good you either bought or considered an Instant Pot.

There are basic rules for adapting recipes for the Instant Pot, but in general, itís easy to use and useful for most cooks, according to writer Shefaly Ravula. Contributed by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

This newfangled 7-in-1 appliance, which costs about $100, was one of the bestselling kitchen gadgets last year, and it was certainly one of the most talked about.

In todayís food section, Shefaly Ravula, who has been a fan of the appliance for months, explains that the Facebook groups alone have tens of thousands of members who answer questions at every hour of the day. She made the case that the InstaPot, as itís known, is useful enough that most cooks would find use for it several times a week, but you do have to follow recipes carefully to make sure that the water ratio and cooking times are right.

Beans are one of the most popular dishes to cook in an Instant Pot because you can cook them on the pressure cooker setting in about 40 minutes. Contributed by Shefaly Ravula

This is the first of a new series we are launching called Year of Gadgets. Inspired by the Year of Baking, this time, weíre taking on the devices and tools that make kitchen life easier. Weíll be exploring all kinds of gadgets, from the ones you think you canít live without (toaster, microwave) to the ones youíre not sure you need (SodaStream, sous vide).

If you have an IP, as it is known, weíd love to hear your thoughts on it, or if you have a suggestion for a gadget you think we should feature this year, email me at abroyles@statesman.com or hit me up on Twitter, @broylesa. The gadgets donít have to be electric (a mandoline is on my shortlist), but the more useful and efficient they are to use, the better.

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