Library notes: Don’t be afraid of your pressure cooker – learn about it

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 11, 2009

By Paul Birkhead
Rowan Public Library
There’s a box out in my garage that’s been collecting dust for months.
Inside that box is a brand new pressure cooker I ordered off the Internet. With cooler weather approaching, craving comfort food has once again become commonplace.
Looking back, my mother’s pressure cooker was the source of much of the comfort food I associate with my youth. Lately, I was thinking that if I found some new recipes it might actually inspire me to use my pressure cooker. So I turned to the library for help because I figured they’d have at least a book or two on pressure cooking from which to choose.
Well, was I wrong. I came home with at least a half dozen books. These three turned out to be my favorites.
I found “Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes” to be very informative. No surprise there, I guess, as the author, Vickie Smith, is the creator of the leading pressure cooker Web site, www.MissVickie .com. Her book not only contains hundreds of recipes, but loads of other information as well.
I was particularly fascinated by the chapter which touched on the history of steam cooking. I had no idea that the first version of the pressure cooker was created way back in 1680 or that Napoleon played a role in its further development.
Other sections of the Smith’s book include instructions on the proper use of pressure cookers, important safety information, and even a buyer’s guide for modern equipment.
Another book I liked was “Pressure Cooking for Everyone” by Rick Rodgers and Arlene Ward. Both Rodgers and Ward teach cooking classes and their laid-back style is apparent in this volume. They do a particularly good job explaining the benefits of steam cooking. Not only does food cook faster but vegetables prepared in a pressure cooker lose fewer vitamins and minerals, retain their color and generally taste better.
Cooking meats this way is a healthier alternative to other methods, as it eliminates most of the fat by draining it away quickly and yet the superheated steam keeps the meat moist and juicy.
“Express Cooking,” written by Barry Bluestein and Kevin Morrissey, is chock-full of recipes for today’s modern-day pressure cookers. Every conceivable category, from soups and stocks, to meats, vegetables, grains and beans, has several delicious recipes to try. There’s even a section on desserts. While finding a recipe for cooking apples in a pressure cooker made sense, the one for strawberry cheesecake took me by surprise. That one I may have to try.
As you can probably tell, I’ve found the inspiration I needed to break in my new pressure cooker. I’m excited by the fact that my food will not only be healthier but will taste better and take less time to prepare. These are the very reasons why earlier generations insisted on using pressure cookers despite the all-too-common “dinner on the ceiling” disaster stories that got passed around. Thankfully, modern-day pressure cookers like mine have a safer, almost foolproof design to them.
Visit any of the branches of Rowan Public Library to browse through their collection of books on cookery. You might even come away inspired.
Computer classes: Classes are free. Sessions are 90 minutes long. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Dates and times are subject to change without notice.
Headquarters ó Monday, 7 p.m., Absolute Beginners Access; Thursday, 2:30 p.m., Health Resources on the Web; Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Access: Beyond the Basics; Sept. 24, 2:30 p.m., Absolute Beginners Internet Searching.
South ó Monday, 7 p.m., E-Mail Class.
East ó Sept. 22, 1 p.m., Basic Windows.
Storytelling program: Thursday, 7 p.m., storyteller Jim Weiss will help celebrate the library’s 10th annual Stories by the Millstream Festival with a family storytelling program in the Stanback Auditorium at headquarters.
Children’s storytime: Through Nov. 19, weekly story time. for more information, call 704-216-8234.
Headquarters ó Tiny Tots (infants-23 months), Wednesdays, 11 a.m.; Toddler Time (2 years), Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Preschool Time (3-5-year-olds), Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; Noodlehead (4-8 years), Thursdays, 4 p.m.
South ó Preschool Time, Mondays, 10:30 a.m.; Noodlehead, Mondays, 4 p.m.; Toddler Time, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Baby Time, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.
East ó Toddler Time, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Preschool Time, Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m.; Baby Time, Thursdays, 11 a.m.
Teen program: Does your locker need some help? Come to the library to create a denim locker pocket or marble magnet. For information, call 704-216-8234. East, Sept. 21, 5:30-7 p.m.; South, Sept. 21, 5-6:30 p.m.; headquarters, Sept. 28, 5:30-7 p.m.
Tuesday Night at the Movies: All movies are at 6:30 p.m. All movies are rated G, PG or PG 13. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Free popcorn and lemonade.
Children of all ages will enjoy September’s movies celebrating the birthday of Roald Dahl.
Tuesday, “Witches”; Sept. 22, “Matilda”; Sept. 29, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”
Displays: Headquarters ó Hispanic Coalition and Blues and Jazz Festival; South ó Hispanic heritage by Suzanne White. East ó Girl Scout troop.Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.