Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cooking beets in a pressure cooker - Part 1

Using a pressure cooker has become almost fashionable in some demographics. You know: being eco-friendly and green, and saving the world. For others, it's a necessity.
My shining new pressure cooker

Three factors prevented me using a pressure cooker for all my years until now. 

First, it never occurred to me to want to use one. 

Second, when a thought concerning a pressure cooker flitted through my mind, what was recalled was an enormous, heavy, metal vat used by one of my aunts at harvest time when she was preserving food from her garden. It had a cogged lid with a gauge (or gauges) on it and there were other protruding things that made it look like something from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I was made to know that this cooking vessel was DANGEROUS!!!

This leads to the third factor that stopped me using a pressure cooker: the fear factor. Yes. FEAR.

And it's no wonder that I harboured the fear. I had it drilled into me that the steam which screamed and hissed and spit its way out of the contraption could take my skin RIGHT OFF! And the pressure inside could make it BLOW UP! The lid could fly off and hot peas would explode out of it like BULLETS and take my EYES OUT! And so, if I knew what was good for me, I'd make myself scarce.

Recently (i.e., in the last couple of years), Enmax -- the energy company that we, the citizens of Calgary, are supposed to own -- has been extorting money from me at a rate and volume that is more Mafioso than the Mafia. Of course, Enmax needs to put the screws on customers in order to hand over huge wads of money to the snouts in the trough who do nothing but use our money to pay rock stars to entertain at their homes. Oh, yes, -- and they dream up weird surcharges to attach to the bills they churn out for us. For instance, a charge is added to the bill for compiling the bill, and then that grand theft is topped off with the stealer tax, adding insult to injury.

Having surveyed the grounds, you can tell where this is leading.

Because I am a low energy user and still am suffering crazily escalating energy bills, investigation of more energy-efficient ways to cook is in order. Since beets take a substantial amount of time to cook, especially when cooked whole as I prefer, one alternative to steaming or roasting that came to mind was the monster from the deep. As luck would have it, I saw one advertised by a national retailer, and it was at a discounted price. 

Just as I was about to make the leap into pressure cooker ownership, a colleague told me that another colleague had a disastrous  experience with her pressure cooker. She said that the pot had exploded because pressure couldn't be released. This had destroyed the kitchen stove and the kitchen.That put me off. It didn't take much.

Some weeks later, after talking to the horse rather than the horse's backside, I discovered:
 (a) that  the source of the problem had been that chick peas were being cooked in the pressure cooker, which clogged the steam vent(s), and
 (b) the disaster had occurred forty years ago in India when, of course, the old monster from the deep was in use.


Now that I knew the folly of believing the alarmist rantings of an uniformed, or partially informed, gossip, I was again enamoured by the lure of shortened cooking times. And, just then, I again came across a pressure cooker offered at a reduced price by a national retailer.

Reader, I bought it.


Laurel said...

This post made me laugh! As I was reading it I kept thinking, who knew pressure cookers were so dangerous. I loved the ending of your story!

June said...

I'd taken all the warning to heart when I was a kid but had never heard of any actual disaster until told by this colleague. I'm glad those days are gone.