Lisa’s Letter Home: Cooking Under Pressure

Lisa’s Letter Home: Cooking Under Pressure

So the kids are now back in school and I’ve just started a new contract which means I’m in an office for part of the week and I have to get my head around a new routine but I still haven’t managed it and have forgotten things like whether or not my son’s uniform still fits (which it DOESN’T) and AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

I’m a bit stressed.

I haven’t worked outside of the home for over 18 months now and I’ve lost my mama multitasking skillz, especially when it comes to feeding the herd. By the time I made it home today with all three kids, two of them had to leave for karate 20 minutes later – and they hadn’t eaten supper yet. I threw whatever was in the fridge on a plate in despair.

Head in hands, I said to my husband that I needed a plan. A plan and possibly my own PA – preferably a PA who’ll work for cake and wine. As that ain’t gonna happen, I need a strategy to cope with the severe lack of time vs. the number of hungry bellies in the house.

A good tip is to make things ahead of time or prepare meals for the freezer, but this also requires time. Worked well when I had a few weeks off before my babies arrived and had the entire day to myself, and I did manage a very impressive freezer stash before my little ones arrived. But of course that was all down to more child-free hours and pregnancy hormones giving me a big case of the crazies. Time is not on my side now.

My in-laws bought me a pressure cooker for my birthday (at my request), and to be frank, I was a little bit scared to use it. It hisses, bellows out steam, and the lid shakes like there’s a rabid squirrel trapped inside. Nothing else in my kitchen does that. Many months later, thanks to my little girl’s request for chicken stock when she was unwell, I gave it a go. It made the most delicious chicken stock, without having to roast anything off beforehand, in less than an hour. I got hooked.

The next day, I used it to cook pork belly in around an hour; normally I simmer it for three hours or more. After the pork was done, I chucked in some new potatoes and they were happily steaming on my plate in five minutes.

This is all very reminiscent of the day my mother discovered the microwave in the early 80s. We were stunned at the fact that you could boil water in a measuring cup and still be able to touch the handle. We could even make meatloaf in it! (Not that it was entirely edible.) It was a revelation.

So by overcoming the fear of the hissy pot, I’ve discovered a way to save quite a lot of time in the kitchen. I might even get something ready for the freezer.

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  1. Annalisa
    September 07, 16:47 Reply

    I’m going to post here since it drives me INSANE when people don’t post on my blog but post 120000 comments on Facebook. But on my blog it looks like I have no friends.

    I’m scared of pressure cookers too.
    I will work for cake and wine (note: and, not ‘or’)
    What else can you cook in a pressure cooker and which one have you got?
    Do I need one?

    Your post made me laugh.


  2. Lisa Durbin
    September 07, 17:15 Reply

    hahaha thank you, Annalisa! I can do cake AND wine, no problem.

    So I’ve got the Prestige 6l pressure cooker, based solely on Amazon reviews. So far, so good. I’ve made a really lovely pot roast as well as the other things I mentioned. I’m going to try doing ham/gammon, chilli, and maybe other (normally) slow-cooked things like bolognaise sauce.

    Glad I made you laugh. xx

  3. gordon
    September 08, 09:58 Reply

    it is true with the pressure cooker! it is like the microwave of sous-vides, if you will. 🙂 it is really good for ribs at the start, and things like chicken stock [perfect example of its virtues] comes out tasting very chicken-y. i have to buy one. it seems to me there have also always been concerns about the safety–but there’s some pretty straightforward rules to follow.

    thanks for the post!

    ps–Thomas Keller tip for making pretty veg in stocks if you are serving the veg later–put each bunch of different veg in cheesecloth and wedge it in the bottom. things don’t get all muddied up that way. 🙂

  4. Lisa Durbin
    September 08, 16:11 Reply

    Ah good tip, Gordon/Thomas! I would love a sous vide, truth be told. Cannot possibly justify the £500 price tag, though!

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