Monday, March 22, 2010

Happiness is a Rump Roast and Ten Pounds of Pressure

My grandfather was a cowboy. I still remember the sturdy brown shirt, slate blue levis, and perpetually dusty cowboy boots he wore every day, occasionally with a white cowboy hat. Because of his trade, we always had an abundance of beef in our freezer while I was growing up. I took them for granted, the mounds of roasts, steaks, and ground beef encased in clean white butcher paper sitting in our freezer. I thought that was perfectly normal. You can imagine the rude awakening that occurred when he retired and we started having to buy our beef from the store like normal people. The thing I missed most was that white butcher paper.

Sometimes the things that bring us comfort make no sense at all. And they are so specific that others don't understand them. Like me and my love of butcher paper-wrapped beef, particularly cooked in an old fashioned pressure cooker. To me, nothing tastes better than a roast cooked in a pressure cooker. My husband has no concept of this. He grew up with crock pots and feels that the jiggle of a pressure cooker indicates that an explosion is eminent. A roast in a crock pot is comfort to him, but to me, that periodic jiggle from a pressure gauge on an old fashioned pressure cooker says home. I love that periodic jiggle.

Recently I borrowed a pressure cooker and made my first roast. I called my mother for instructions. Then I called her later just to tell her it was jiggling. I called again when it stopped jiggling because I turned the temperature down too much. Then I called one more time to tell her that everything turned out great.

She probably doesn't understand the impact her pressure cooker had on me growing up. But the sound of that pressure cooker, combined with the sound of her sliding around the kitchen in her nylons, a white apron covering her Sunday clothes, and the occasional outburst of an Elvis song, is the ultimate in comfort for me. In my opinion, that is what a Sunday afternoon should be like.

I try to recreate that for my children, but I have a feeling that their comfort sounds, smells, and sights are far different from mine. Perhaps for them, comfort is the gentle click-clack of the computer keys as I type, ignoring their requests to play some insipid board game or get them a snack. Or maybe it's the sight of me sleeping in my bed while they wait for me to get up and make their breakfast. Perhaps the scent of diet coke and chocolate on my breath says "home" to them. A perfect Sunday for my kids? Mom refusing to get out of the car after church because she dreads the mess she will find at home, because when they left for church three hours earlier, they didn't have time to clean up. Perhaps there is some intangible comforting quality in that? I hope so. I sure do hope so....


  1. I've never seen a pressure cooker in action. I sort of feel left out.

    But, I agree that all meat should come fresh from the butcher, wrapped in perfect white sheets.

  2. I'm definitely with you on the not wanting to get out of the car after church, knowing the mess that awaits, and just wishing that Moms had Sundays off too.

  3. I want to pressure cook but A) I never cook anyway and B) I always think an explosion is coming too

  4. I never had a regular pressure cooker, neither did my mother-in-law or mother. But I do have a friend who has one and uses it all the time. I think they were developed to cook tough stuff. Once we had a cooking class at church on using one. Seems like a good idea to have one but maybe not at the stage in life I find myself. Go for it Carly!
    Know what you mean on the clean house deal. I clean like mad before a trip so I can come home to a clean house.

  5. Carly,
    I was glad to see you at good old K-Mart too! Sorry we didn't get to talk, but I totally understand the phone call situation. I wanted to tell you how I think your kids names are so great (we've always loved Ruby and Holden and obviously Hazel)
    Are you in Utah or Idaho now? Hopefully around the next holiday we'll both be getting a few last minute supplies and run into each other and get to talk more then!! Hope all is well!