Friday, February 13, 2009

Pressure Cookers

As usual, send an email to or comment here for your name to be entered into a drawing for a book The Stained Glass Pickup or A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.
Happy Valentines Day. This is a photo of a native Texas flower called Turk's Cap. It grows into a large bush if given plenty of room and is covered throughout the spring and summer with eye catching red flowers, petals swirling upward. I have some at my old house and plan to get a start at the new house, too. They're fun and came from a dear writer friend, Morna Smith, who has given me lots of cuttings from native Texas plants.

Love is in the air. Tomorrow is February 14, Valentines Day, and I remembered a gift my sweetheart and I received from relatives before our marriage. An aunt and uncle gave us a pressure cooker, one that will cook a beef stew in about eight minutes and raw vegetables in two to five minutes.

I doubt that many new brides receive pressure cookers these days. I wanted my daughter, who has a young family, to get one to save her time, but she feared the contraption. She’d heard a few horror stories of misuses and mishaps, of dinner sliding down kitchen walls.

The basic parts of a pressurized cooker are a pot, a lid with twist and lock design and a synthetic seal. The lid has a pencil size pointed vent where a weight sits, letting steam periodically escape. Mine has an extra vent. If the pot is forgotten, that vent will open instead of letting the built up steam blow off the lid.

Occasionally a cook wanders away from the kitchen and can’t hear the “jiggle” sound, the dance between the pressured steam and the weight. One friend recalled a day when she soaked beans, put them into her pressure cooker, and then turned the flame on high and walked outside to see about her kiddos. Soon, she was pushing them on their swings, catching them as they used the slide, and pulling weeds from the flowerbed.

While distracted, she heard a big thump inside her home and ran in to see the pressure lid on the floor and beans impaled on the textured sealing. Gravity helped with the cleanup. She refers to the mini-explosion as the day it “rained pinto beans.”

In February, frilly red hearts, chocolate, and roses represent love, but a marriage has a whole lot of plain days when it’s more like a pressure cooker. A marriage is mortgages, Mondays, mini-people, and morning coffee, stirred by a wife and husband with different backgrounds and personalities.

The best Valentines gift to a spouse, parents, children, bosses, and coworkers is to commit the apostle Paul’s love instructions in 1 Corinthians 13 to memory and practice them every day. The positives he mentions are “Love is patient, love is kind.”

Then Paul lists what is absent when love is present: “It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.”

Finally, Paul lists the “always” aspects of love, the do and do not results: “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This Valentines Day, bake cookies, share candy and flowers, or pull out the old pressure cooker and make a special meal for those you love. To add the best ingredient to any relationship, practice perfect love. This, “Love never fails” (13:8).

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  1. Anonymous6:49 AM

    Cathy, this is one of the most wonderful posts I've read in a long time. Thank you for dropping by Peppermint Place to comment on Terra's Lemonade award. If you hadn't I never would've found you.

    I have a pressure cooker like that and never learned how to use it--afraid of it just like you say in your post. I'm not afraid of my canner, because it lets me know how much pressure is building, but I never understood the pressure cooker.

    Blessings to you!


  2. Linda, Thank you. I see we belong to a few of the same writer organizations. This blog post is a copy of my newspaper column for Houston Community Newspapers, which appears on Fridays.

    Pressure cookers. I really enjoy mine, love the way it tenderizes meat.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Hi Cathy,
    I loved this post even though I am reading a few days past V-day!

    I had never thought of how the "Love chapter" is divided into positives, negatives and "always". I must have read that chapter a hundred times! Thanks for pointing it out and thanks for a great read today!


  4. Hi, Paula, Thanks for dropping by. Your surprise was like mine when I re-read that love chapter. I, too, had never seen the "divisions," but in some ways it helps me remember the elements of real love. My all time favorite aspect of that love list is that love "keeps no records of wrong." Hmmm. How powerful is that?

    I checked out your blog. Had a suspicion you were a Paula I know, and I was right. The pictures confirmed it. Happy Friday. Check back tomorrow for a column called "Jiggles."