Relaxed Pressure Cooking

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Here I am, ready to go. I've got the food, the knife, the cutting board, and I'm ready to put it all together.   Ah, macrobiotic cooking!??  But no!   Not a pressure cooker!   I couldn't do that!   I don't know how!   What if it explodes!

I'm just not the type.   I've heard too many stories.   I think my grandmother had one.   No thanks.   Uh uh, definitely not for me.

What's that you say?   My grandmother had the right idea in using a pressure cooker.   It seals the ingredients and liquid in, so it makes that rice and those problematic beans easier to digest since it softens the fibers in food.   Pressure cooking gives me added strength.   And, the food comes out delicious.   I like that part.

But I already told you, I'm not doing it.   Period.

You again?   What do you want now?   You say that my grandmother's pressure cooker was a lot different than pressure cookers today?   (Crossing arms)   Show me,  I'm from Missouri.

Let me get this straight. Pressure cookers today have spring-loaded valve systems.   Sounds fancy! Could you say it in plain English now? Whaddya' mean?

Ok, ok, I am looking at my new pressure cooker-but I'm not going any nearer. Yes, I see the pressure valve.   It's right here.   That's all I have to look at?   When the valve is up, the pressure is on.   When it's down while I'm cooking, there's no pressure.   And, it has a safety tap, so if there's too much pressure, the pressure automatically releases.

Hmmm, that sounds all right….

I don't know who you are, but you got me in the kitchen, together with two pressure cookers.   Here I go!

Okay.   I open the first one up like this, sideways.  That's pretty easy.   The other one opens by pulling the handle straight up, and then it twists off or on.   Piece of cake.

So I'll put brown rice in one, and how about chickpeas in the other?   Both have been soaked before.   The rice has one and a half times water, and the beans have three times as much water.   Let's put a piece of kombu in with those chickpeas too.

Close up the beans and fire her up.   That's easy enough.   Let the rice come to a boil first, and then I'll add a pinch of salt and seal it.   Wow, so far, so good.

When the water in the pressure cookers comes to a boil, I'll definitely hear it. There it is now.   That little do-hicky valve right there starts to dance, and I can hear it hissing away.   Whoa! That's loud!

Ok, if you say there's no need to panic, I trust you.   Onward and upward.   I'm turning down the flame so that I still hear a low hiss.   I put a flame deflector under the rice, and set the timer for 50 minutes.   The beans will need a little longer-about 1 1/2 hours. Hmmmm…

So that's all there is to it?   But are you sure these things are safe?

Tell me again:

The lid locks onto the pressure cooker.   Pressure can't even build up if the lid's not on right.   And I can't open the lid until the pressure is down.

When the valve jiggles and jogs, and I hear that unmistakable hiss, I know it's time to turn down the heat.   These little holes here on the stem of the valve let steam escape, so the pressure cooker can't get over-pressured.   I just need to clean it each time so the holes don't get clogged.   And forget about pressure cooking foods like oatmeal or split peas that will gum up the works.   That makes sense.   Finally, fill the pressure cooker up to 2/3.   Leave some room at the top.

If I mess up and the holes get clogged anyway, excess pressure will escape through safety holes in the rim of the lid.   That's cool.

Another spring-loaded safety valve will release steam if I screw up and put the heat too high, fill the pressure cooker too full or get the holes on the valve stem clogged.   This is not a blow plug like grandma's old relic, but a highly accurate valve that opens at a preset internal pressure.   So even I can use a pressure cooker safely!   I knew it!

And if I still am determined to blow it, the rubber gasket ring will be forced out through six extended ridges in the lid.   The steam will escape downwards, and I'll need to get a new gasket.   Better than a new ceiling!

Hey, pressure cooking really is simple!   When the food is ready, I just turn off the flame and let the pressure come down by itself.   I'll know it's okay to open the lid when the valve is down and the lid opens easily.   No sweat! (Opens pressure cooker; sweat pours down her face.)

Let's eat!