We're two sisters who are craft book publishers and found ourselves in the midst of an avocado grove. We bought this house where we planned to conduct our publishing business and in the deal got 4 acres of avocado trees thrown in. Now we're not only publishers but ranchers as well! This blog is all about avocados and anything else that strikes my fancy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Under Pressure

I was cleaning out some drawers and tidying up over the weekend and came across some gems of cookbooks stuffed in a place where they shouldn't have been. I came across this one that was my mother's:

She was really into pressure cooking. I think it was a big trend in the 50s. I can still hear the sizzle and that little metal thing jiggling and see the steam coming out. It was kind of scary really. You knew that any minute it was going to explode. But it never did. And my mother served some pretty darn good dinners in no time at all. She was a real pressure cooking star.

You can see that she was mostly into stews and meat (notice this very well-stained page):

But this page is so pristine - not used at all. She definitely didn't use pressure to make desserts:

I wish I still had the original pressure cooker so I could try it just once. But when I read the instructions I was glad that the cooker had bitten the dust. Here's just a small sample of what you were supposed to do:

"When correct pressure is reached the control will jiggle and sputter, and a few drops of water may trickle from the control. Count cooking time from this moment. It should not jiggle constantly as this would evaporate too much moisture. However, the occasional jiggle, as well as the hissing sound is your assurance that correct pressure is maintained."

Whew!! jiggles, hissing, pressure. It would all be too much for me. I'll stick with regular pans and crock pots. Much easier.

I was searching You Tube to get some clarification about pressure cookers and found this one. And I want to make sure that just because her name is Nancy, it's not me. You don't have to watch the whole thing because it's way too long, but I love watching her rush her cooker out of the kitchen in a massive puff of steam.

This man seems a bit more precise and gives an interesting history of pressure cookers and also his recipe sounds really tasty:

The last page of the pressure cooker cookbook has an interesting list of supplies and parts you can order if yours break. Notice the prices. Unbelievable!

Can you imagine what the prices of these parts would be today?

That was a fun trip down memory lane. I can just smell the stew cooking now. I sure do miss my mom's cooking.

Do you have an experience with a pressure cooker? I'd love to know if anyone still uses one. Let me know.


  1. I enjoyed your post about "firsts". It brought back many memories.
    I had a pressure cooker and I did cook with it but was never a fan! My husband still asks me don't you want a pressure cooker? My answer is always no, I prefer my wonderful copper pans, Emile Henry ceramics etc.
    I think your mother a wonderful cook to try out all this food from other nations, when it was not yet fashionable to do so..
    Nancy you are welcome to use some of my Christmas cake! Cheers T.

  2. hi titania,
    thanks for dropping by and visiting my blog. i don't want a pressure cooker either - sounds like way too much trouble.
    thanks for your funny Christmas cake story - i'm going to combine it with other disastrous cooking tales. should make for an interesting blog.