Monday, January 08, 2018

1889 Pressure Cookers and Bad Teeth

1889 Pressure Cookers and Bad Teeth

Pressure cookers weren’t always weapons of mass destruction.  But they always were explosion prone.

A couple of pre-teen kids, a brother and sister are about to surprise their parents with a delicious spaghetti dinner.  They fill the pressure cooker with uncooked spaghetti, put in sauce from a jar, close the pot and put it on the stove.

Closed? Not so fast.  The pot looks closed.  But soon after as the pressure builds, they find out it isn’t.  The way they find out is by walking into the kitchen just as sufficient pressure has built up to pop the lid and send a Vesuvius of pasta and red sauce all over the stove.  And the wall. And the floor. And the ceiling.

Cleanup was neither easy nor complete.

So it was a surprise, alright. Just not the kind the kind they planned.

The nature of pressure cooking has changed.  Now you can get machines that plug in, eliminating the need for stoves.  And you can get pressure cookers that won’t start pressurizing unless both the top and the relief valve are locked tight.

A major advance in modern technology.  

Using a pressure cooker has become foolproof.  Well, maybe not foolproof, but at least fool-resistant.

Pop stuff into the pot, lock the top, lock the relief valve, set the timer and presto! Dinner.

Modern cookware has turned the painting of kitchen walls from mandatory to optional.  
But parts of the cooking have remained untamed.

Rice and beans in nine minutes is fictional, even though that’s what the makers claim in their sales pitches.  The timer doesn’t start its countdown until sufficient pressure builds in the pot.  Sufficient pressure is something we mere humans can’t measure. But we can time it.  It takes longer to build pressure than the nine minutes to cook the rice and beans.

So while you may save your walls and ceilings, and stuff inside will indeed cook faster, you never really know how much time to give your recipe.  If there’s meat or poultry in your dish, you want to make sure that it’s hot enough to kill lurking germs. No one wants e-coli or salmonella.  So you give it a little more time than the cookbook recommends.

The result often is tasty, if industrial cooking is your thing.  But it also will turn your dish into mush.

Mush has its advantages for the tooth-deprived.  If eating a cracker is a source of pain, then pressure cooking a saltine or a Ritz will solve the problem.  Most people don’t pressure cook crackers.  But there are those of us who have contemplated such.

Most people also don’t like eating beef stew with a spoon.  But when you open the pot and find a sea of glop, eating it with a fork becomes impossible.  There are those of us with what the dentists call “compromised” mouths that are grateful mounds of mush. But to most, it’s not a treat no matter how good it tastes.

But at least you don’t have to worry about rice pocks, pasta and red sauce on the ceiling.

GRAPESHOT (pressure cooker edition):
-The dishes never come out just perfect like Wolfgang Puck, Bobby Flay and even Guy Fieri say they will.

-A sudden intentional release of pressure will be accompanied by superheated steam and probably liquid… almost as cringe worthy as the exploding pot that ate Mom’s ceiling.

-Cook the rice separately unless you like rice-like glop.

-Counter intuitively, put the chopped onions in last or they will vanish in the cooking.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
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© WJR 2018



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