Monday, February 25, 2013

under pressure.

One of the challenges we will be facing when we move aboard Interlude full time (and there will be many) is being contained. Very unlike we live now, our resources will be limited. We can only carry so much food, water, and fuel. Responsible and efficient usage of those resources is something I'm obsessed with being mindful of (now is the time I admit my cheapskatedness). 

A way that I am trying to make the best usage of one of our resources is in food prep. We have a very small oven and 4 very small burners that will use propane tanks. Interlude has two on the deck that will be filled before we leave and monitored incessantly while in port and underway. We love food and we love to eat well and if possible we want to get the most bang for our pounds per square inch of fuel. One way to do that is use a pressure cooker for items that would normally use a substantial amount of fuel/time to cook (various vegetables, more substantial cuts of meat, etc.) as well as eliminating the need to have the galley heated up for extended periods of time. 

You might think that it's weird that I am terrified of pressure cookers. I had heard horror stories of these things exploding or burning people from the women in my family from previous generations (my mom swears my grandma forgot she turned hers on and it burst open, not sure if I believe that but hey, caution never hurt anyone). Not only that, there was this major fear that the food would be over or undercooked, rendering the high pressure cooking pretty much worthless since you'd have to finish it off by other means anyway! So you can imagine my trepidation in giving it a test run. 

My lovely mother donated hers to my cause since hers had been sitting unused in the back of one of those unreachable corners of the kitchen cabinets. She even included the almost pristine cookbook/instructional guide it came equipped with. Guess she didn't do too much cooking with it but she did use it for canning and she tells me it cut green bean cooking time down to next to nothing.

My test subject was a chunk of pork loin I wanted to cook to a tender state and shred and coat with sauce to make barbecue pork. Instructions were pored over 5 times, equipment was checked and I was ready to go. I seasoned the pork, added enough liquid to cover the chunk of pork and fastened/locked the lid tightly in place. You are supposed to crank up the heat to high to get things going then adjust it to medium/low once the pressure control starts jiggling. It should only jiggle four times a minute at the correct temp, so there was a tiny bit of futzing around to get that happy medium. An hour later, I pulled it off the stove, ran it under cold water to release the pressure, took off the pressure controller, and opened her up. Voila. Perfect! 

I think I'll continue to do some experimenting with it just so I'm good and versed in the ins and outs of care and cooking times before we put it to the test on the boat. Next meal is going to be a pot roast with potatoes and carrots and I may even attempt a recipe I saw for pressure cooker cheesecake!?