I remember when I was first married and there were no pennies to be wasted, I used to enjoy going to Sears and wandering around the tool department, predetermining what I would buy when I was able. I wasn’t even in the power tool section. I was talking about a set of screwdrivers or the right type of hammer. Basic tools. My wife’s grandfather for years was in charge of developing and implementing the Christmas window displays at Jordan Marsh Department Store in Boston. These were wondrous displays that were animated, including elves and Santa and dancing reindeer and all the wonders of the season. The sidewalks were always full of people admiring them. So, when I would ask about his tools, he would always say “start with the basics. If you shop right, you will only have to buy it once”. I wish I had taken his advice. I can’t tell you how many assorted screwdrivers I have, and hammers. I can tell you I normally use the same two or three. I always chased what looked like the next best thing only to find the one I already had worked just as well or better.
Why am I telling you this. Well, it’s because it seems my wife harbored similar tendencies when it came to the kitchen. Now that I possess “the big kitchen” as she called it, I am finding that, although she normally used the same group of utensils all the time, it seems that there are several similar items in the kitchen drawers. I have to admit it makes me feel a little smug, but, in reality, I am in part to blame. I am what one would call an enabler. I had trouble saying no. So we would discuss the alternatives at length and most discussions would end with me saying “I’m not sure we need it, but if you want it, get it” and she would. Over the years, we have made our way through several assorted toaster ovens, each with additional features that we could not live without. The same goes for bread makers and even pressure cookers. We called it upgrading when in reality it was just placating our desire to possess the latest technology. And her kitchen was her world as much as my shop was mine. However, I am just now beginning to appreciate the similarities between the two.
Everyone knows that there is always more then one way to get something done. We never agreed on a path, but always ended up at the same destination. Now, without the benefit of the chief cook, I am finding I don’t know much about her tools. What worked beautifully for her, cause me to struggle. Tonight’s dinner is an example. I am trying to cook stuff that tastes good and is somewhat healthy. But more specifically, can be prepared in much smaller portions. So yesterday I found a recipe for a slow cooker. We have a huge one downstairs if you want to do half a cow, so somewhere along the line we appropriated an Insta Pot Mini Pressure Cooker. The virtues were numerous. It is designed for small portions, it pressure cooks quickly, and best of all, it is also a slow cooker.
I started the dinner this morning, preparing the steak, mushrooms, bell pepper, and an assortment of stewed tomatoes and onion soup mix, etc. Then I turned it on, pressed the slow cook button and found I had three options called less, normal, and more. Two of them appeared to be preset at 4 hours, so I selected the less which said 8 hours as the recipe called for. It has now been 6 1/2 hours and the meat is not tender, nor is another hour and a half going to correct that. So, as is my normal posture, when it fails, read the directions. I found a couple of things very interesting. The first, in the manual revealed to me that the hours displayed when I pressed slow cook are not preset at all, they are fully adjustable as well. All the way up to 8 hours if you are so inclined. I should have known that. But the other I had to get off the web. It seems that the ‘less’ setting in my Insta Pot is equal to the ‘keep warm’ setting on a conventional. The ‘normal’ is actually ‘low’ and the ‘more’ is ‘high’.
So, it appears that dinner may be a little late this evening. Maybe more then a little. As always, I will write this off as a learning experience. I will rationalize that it has happened to a lot of people. I will fortify my ego with a couple of glasses of red (maybe three as I have a lot of time to kill, and I will try the recipe again…..sometime. The only thing that really bugs me is “I would bet my screwdriver set that my wife knew that.