As technology overwhelms Pat, she finds comfort in a pressure cooker

#475 in a series of true experiences in real estate
November 2004, Hills Newspapers

Several years ago Anet and I and my children attended a lively wedding reception. There was dancing, lots of young people, but we were sitting watching. One song came on that caused almost everyone in the room to rush to the dance floor and begin to vigorously move their arms in patterns.

The music was loud, bouncy and fun. The song, my kids explained to me, was “YMCA.”

Tapping my foot and smiling widely, I said that it must be new. Oh no, they told me, it’s old. “You must have heard it before?”

Well no, I hadn’t, had never heard, or heard of, the song “YMCA” or known that with it comes choreography. My idea of an old song is “Embraceable You.” I’m afraid that as I’ve aged, my references have become old.

Just this week I was trying once again to operate a small CD, tape and radio player that I keep in my kitchen. I wanted to listen to Simon & Garfunkle (of course) but the symbols on the machine completely baffle me.

I can turn it on but it then takes me several infuriating minutes each time I try to determine whether the radio, tape or CD portion is on, or another “function.” (Function and power are the only words in English printed on the player.)

It makes me nuts. My son was around a couple of weeks ago when I was swearing at the player and he recommended that I use the remote, that the remote was easier. I guess it was for him, he got the music going that day, but I wanted to know how to skip a song I didn’t want to hear, also how to play a favorite over again.

Both kids, Nick and Annie, were with me on this day and I implored them to help me in my distress. I got some stick-on labels out and asked questions, ready to label the remote with real words. Nick said everyone everywhere knows what those symbols mean. Surely, I did too?

Annie said, “Look, I’ll show you. Press play and the song begins. If you want to skip forward, press the button with the arrow pointing to the right. Press only once.”

Nick grabbed the remote from Annie’s hand. “I’ll show you! If you want to play that song again, press the left-pointing arrow once. But if you want to go to the previous song, press it twice.”

I wrote little notes on my stickers and stuck them to the remote. “And what about tapes? Will the remote work on them?”

“No,” both kids said.

I guess tapes are so hopelessly out of date that the player people don’t give them any shrift.

Now that I had the music somewhat under control, I decided to make some dinner, something delicious, an all-of-my-life-favorite: pot roast. I got my little rib roast out of the refrigerator and I got out my pressure cooker.

My mom used a pressure cooker everyday when I was a kid, cooking up tender, good smelling pot roasts, swiss steak and stews.

Maybe I’m the only one left in the world who still uses a pressure cooker, I don’t know. But talk about homey and old-fashioned and wonderful! For me, nothing does it like being in a kitchen with the windows fogging up with steam while the pressure regulator rocks soothingly back and forth and the fragrance of the food makes me hungry.

Younger people seem to be worried that the pressure cooker will blow up splattering food on the walls and ceiling, possibly blinding the cook and family with metal fragments.

I’ve never known of a pressure cooker to blow up. And one does – truly – produce savory and tender foods cooked in a third or so of the time it would take to cook them otherwise.

Anet is younger than I, her mother never used a pressure cooker, but she has an open mind, and was happy to learn from me the delights of pressure cooking. On this day she took over the preparation, seasoning well the roast, browning it on all sides in hot oil, then adding onions, garlic and wine before sealing the cooker.

I sat in the kitchen with a cup of tea listening to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Gently the pressure cooker jiggled and the aroma was fine. There was warm steam in the air, and I felt comforted. I thought about my mother, and I missed her.

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