Jul 14, 2015

pressure cooker

The first day we were in Japan, Saori's mom, Yoshiko-san offered to buy us a pressure cooker. She assured us that there was a store nearby having a sale, so we set off on a very long walk to a local shopping mall. We didn't find any special ones there, and since we were planning on maxing our luggage weight allowances with clothes from UNIQLO and MUJI, Yoshiko-san offered to just gift us the money for a pressure cooker.

Fast forward to a few days ago, when I was at a large supermarket somewhere between a Kmart and a Wal-Mart with a fraction of the size and selection, they were selling pressure cookers. Looked solid. stainless steel. GSW brand, manufactured in Germany. I picked one up for 40 euros, less than a third of the price of a WMF one. 

I've never cooked with a pressure cooker before, so I carefully read through the owners manual, read about them online and looked up some recipes before picking out a chicken masala recipe. Actually, Indian cooking was one the things I had in my mind before picking it up, since my old Indian roomies used the pressure cooker all the time for things like lentils and certain curries. 

Anyway, the dish turned out fine- the chicken was really moist and flakey, but the sauce ended up really lame- I think I just need to find a better recipe. 

Today, poking around the internet a bit more, I discovered that actually you can cook rice really fast and easily in a rice cooker, which is huge considering how much Saori and I love rice. Actually we had been going back and forth about whether or not to get a rice cooker or a pressure cooker- now we have both. I'm getting a better hang of the pressure cooker but the rice still came out too gooey. I'm still trying to get the timing and the heating right. The problem is our stove is electric metal plate, which is incredibly slow to warm up and incredibly slow to cool down. From the highest temperature, I can completely turn off the stove and still bring a full pot of water to boil with all the heat still coming from the "off" stove. This is a problem with the pressure cookers, which really want to have a quick drop in heat once the cooking pressure is reached inside the vessel.

Anyway, the last interesting bit about pressure cookers is that the first commercial pressure cookers were actually invented and manufactured here in Stuttgart, before the turn of the previous century, by a man named Gutbrot. We live at the end of Gutbrod street, and Saori walks it every day to work, although she calls it "yummy bread street" which is its literal translation.

On that note- the more German I learn, the more I realize that Germans have no imagination when it comes to naming places and streets. Granted, there are way too many "Monte Vista / mountain view" streets in Phoenix, but at least you have schools, for example, named "corona del sol" (crown of the sun). I work in Germany on "Ant hill." The wine growing hill is called "wine hill." Granted, the forest where I used to live was called "Crow Forest" which is kind of cool. 

Other German failures of imagination- the city recently removed a large glass bottle collection dumpster from a street corner near where I work. It had obviously been there many years. This event has apparently blown everyone's mind because every time I walk by, the pile of bottles people are leaving on the spot, helpfully piled to the side, keeps growing. Is it a sign of frustration with the city removing a convenient bottle drop? Is it laziness? Does it come from the belief that because there was a bottle drop before, it must return in at some point in the future? 
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