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On the Home Front

Written by: Marilyn Moll
Submitted On: 11/8/2003
As I have been thinking about how to get dinner to the table quickly with a minimum of fuss, I realized that I use a variety of strategies to achieve success. In upcoming newsletters I will be talking about each of the many different strategies that I use in more detail as well as referring to recipes, books, websites and other helpful resources.

One of my favorite strategies for a quick meal is to rely on my modern day "servants." The Proverbs 31 woman accomplished much in a day because she had many servant girls to assist her.

Today, there are many appliances that can serve as a "modern day servant". Besides my grain mill and drinking water system, I rely on my pressure cookers to consistently save me the most time. Yes, I too, was apprehensive to invest in a pressure cooker because I hadn't just heard about pressure cooker disasters, I had had a few disasters myself!!!

Then I learned about and saw demonstrated the "second generation" of pressure cookers loaded with numerous safety features that virtually eliminate any possibility of an explosion or any other kind of disaster.

But before I tell you about all the great safety features, let me tell you how I use my pressure cookers on a daily basis and why I like them so much.

I cook broccoli at pressure for two minutes and remove the pressure right away and it's ready to serve. I cook quartered potatoes in 4 minutes of pressure, soaked dry beans such as kidney or pinto beans in 9 minutes, lentils in fifteen minutes and so on!!! Delicious pot roasts, depending on the weight of the meat, are fork tender in about 30-45 minutes under pressure. Hot, cracked whole grain cereal takes about five minutes. Beets are cooked in about 15 minutes.

Brown rice, oddly enough, cooks in 20-22 minutes under pressure which is one of the slower items but comes out wonderfully. Are you getting the picture? Cooking in a pressure pan is almost as fast as a microwave, but much healthier and more reliable.

If I haven't planned and prepared menu ahead of time, or prepared a crock pot meal, dinner can still be "saved" by pulling out the pressure cooker(s).

PRESSURE FREE MEALS IN A PRESSURE COOKER

Pressure Cooking is Healthy. I love cooking healthy meals in a pressure cooker because very little water is used in pressure cooking and because the pressure cooker is a "closed system," few vitamins and minerals are lost to the cooking water or dissipated into the air.

Pressure cookers offer better taste. This is the direct result of the health benefits explained above. Moreover, for dishes such as stews and pasta sauces the pressure actually causes the ingredients to quickly mingle and their flavors to intensify. Pressure cookers keep the flavor in the food.

Pressure cooking is Fast! The cooking times for most foods in the pressure cooker are approximately 1/4 - 1/3 the times for those same foods cooked in traditional manners, and in many instances, faster even than in a microwave.

Some sample cooking times in a Pressure Cooker:

artichokes 10-14 minutes
black beans 10-12 minutes
whole chicken 5 minutes /lb
white rice 5 minutes
brown rice 20-22 minutes
whole new potatoes 5-6 minutes
beef stew 15-20 minutes 2


CHICKEN BARLEY SOUP

This simple, hearty and flavorful soup will remind you of the bounty of your summer garden. It's assortment of herbs and vegetables will warm you down to your toes. It has become a family favorite with or without the chicken added.

6 chicken thighs, skinned
2/3 cup barley
8 Cups chicken stock or water
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 small carrots, sliced
1 Cup chopped broccoli florets (optional)
1 large tomato, peeled and chopped or 2 Tablespoons tomato powder (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon tamari or soy sauce or Bragg's liquid aminos
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Dash of cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Put all of the ingredients except the parsley into an 8 qt. stock pot or 5 liter or larger pressure cooker such as a Duromatic. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. In the Duromatic, bring ingredients to second red ring and pressure for 15 minutes; allow pressure to drop naturally. (Or simmer the soup conventionally for 1-1/4 hours, stirring occasionally.)

Remove the chicken thighs from the soup. When cooled slightly, remove the meat and cut into bite- sized pieces. Return the meat to the soup. Simmer the soup an additional 10-15 minutes if desired. Adjust seasonings to taste, and add the parsley and serve.

Cauliflower Potato Soup

This soup is delicious. You may cut both the butter and cream cheese from the original recipe in half to lower the fat content. It is still delicious and satisfying. This soup has become a customer and family favorite.

4 large potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups water
2 cups milk or soy milk or water (opt.)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper 1 TB Spike (seasoning usually found in grocery stores)
1 - 8oz. package cream cheese (may halve)
1/4 cup butter

In a large pot, combine the first 8 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes**, stirring occasionally. Slightly mash mixture with potato masher in pan. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. Simmer over very low heat for 10 minutes uncovered to blend flavors.

**To save time and nutrients I combine these ingredients into my pressure cooker and cook on the second ring for 6-8 minutes. To reduce pressure quickly, put the covered pan in the sink and run cold water over it and continue according to the recipe.
 
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