Sunday, April 7, 2013

Taking the Pressure Off

My Grandma Mary used to can various fruits, pickles and relishes. She would take out her pressure cooker and “put-up” these tasty treats for when the “good stuff” was no longer available fresh from the garden or orchard. As a kid, when she took the pressure-cooking beast out, it scared the ever-lovin’ daylights out of me. You see, Grandma always made sure she gave me instructions whenever we cooked, canned or baked together. The only thing is, I really didn’t care to hear about all the people canners had maimed or killed when they weren’t handled properly.

Grandma would load up the canner, add the required amount of water, insure the gasket seal was in place and crank down the lid locks. Then she moved it onto the heat of her cook stove⎯yes, I said cook stove as in wood and fire. As the water began to boil, steam would form inside the sealed canner, thus creating a sort of kitchen bomb, as she referred to it. Again, frightening! As steam would start to hiss and escape the vent in the lid, she would set a weighted indicator over the vent stem. Based on canning time and steam pressure readings, Grandma made small adjustments as necessary in order to keep the lid on, complete her canning and keep us all safe and sound. In her way, my grandma knew just how to take the pressure off.

We all need to take the pressure off from time to time. How we go about keeping the lid on before we create our own hissing bomb differs from person to person. For me, taking the pressure off can be as simple as getting the miscellany out of my brain by bringing some sense of organization to my life. This allows untroubled quiet in my head, as opposed to the voice that is constantly reminding me of all those things I am trying not to forget. How do I keep a handle on my pressure readings?
  • Sticky notes (this only works if you have a few, at one time I had those little stickies everywhere and thus reminded me of nothing but a sticky, colorful mess)
  • Daily/Monthly calendar reminders (on my computer, cell phone and the “old fashioned” method using a pencil on an actual printed calendar)
  • Files (I have files for recipes, traveling, health topics, receipts, gardening⎯you name it, and chances are I can put my fingers on it)
Doing these things seem so simple, but you have to take the time to do them in the first place. I am still surprised by the number of people I talk to who are trying to remember everything⎯only to forget something causing further pressure to rise. Taking the pressure off helps keep me focused and feeling like I have some measure of control in my life.

As I told my grandma years ago⎯you can show me all you want to about canning, but I am never having one of those bombs in my kitchen! Please note: I have never used a pressure cooker to this day. No hissing bomb here! I don’t like to do anything that may get me steamed somewhere along the way. So, get it off your brain and it will be a load off your mind. It's as simple as that.
What to do... photo courtesy of Nina Mathews