Monday, December 16, 2019

Instant Pot Extras

Last year I got an Instant Pot for Christmas. There was some concern that I would be afraid to use it but I must say I love the darn thing.

My mother used a pressure cooker when I was young and I will admit to having a fear of that thing. But the Instant Pot has computerized safety features and I don't worry about it at all. It has given me a burn warning a few of times.....but all while cooking one meal. I have to assume that I didn't get the pot deglazed well enough after browning the meat as I had made that dish before with no incident. I took the top off, and carefully stirred, scraping the bottom of the pot with a plastic spoon and hoped for the best. There was just no other reason for it to be warning me. Dinner was just fine and in the entire year, that was the only incident.

I'm still reading messages in the forums from people who are staring at their new Instant Pots and are too afraid to plug them in. I say, do the seal test, as described in the manual, and the cook yourself a perfect egg or two, just so you will get the idea how to use it without worrying about wasting too much money on some more expensive food that you are so convinced you will ruin. Then use actual Instant Pot recipes as this method of cooking is definitely different from what you are used to.  Over time you will learn the tricks and come to understand just how this gadget works. After that, you may start to develop ways to use the Instant Pot to cook some of your old favorites.

The Instant Pot will not only save you time, it will save you money on your electrical bills as well. The other thing it will do is save you money by stretching  your food dollars.  When you use an Instant Pot you must always put at least a cup of water or some other fluid into the pot first. The juices off your meats will end up in this water and I came to the conclusion that it had to be good for something. I started freezing it and asked an online group if they every use that liquid for soups or other dishes. The answer was a resounding yes!  So today I thawed out one of those containers of frozen liquids and mixed it with the juices from the most recent meal. Both were chicken dishes, but quiet different from one another so the juices were different colours and had different flavours. It didn't matter.  I added a bit of store bought chicken broth too, just to top up the pot a bit so there would be enough for four bowls. Then I divided it in half as there are only two of us here.  I considered adding vegetables, but just went with noodles for today. The other half may get the vegetables since I'm exploring taste sensations.

It was so good, and full bodied. We really enjoyed it. So, besides already getting a couple of meals out of my cooked dinners, I will get a couple more out of the simple water that was required to cook them. You can't beat that kind of savings, especially since it was so good. The juices can, of course, be used in your other cooking as well. I may cook some rice in it next time.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Meeting Up with Online Contacts

With the advent of social media, it has often been said that your real friends are the ones you have around you and not the ones you meet online. I'm sorry but I love many of the people I've met online and some of them I have considered to be my friends since well before the invention of the modern internet and Windows and definitely before the term, social media ever started to be in common use.

I have met a few of them over the years. Sometimes they are quieter in person than online. Sometimes it's just the opposite. Sometimes we seem to have said everything there is to say online and it's difficult to make conversation in person without repeating ourselves. Other times we don't discuss much other than what the topic of where we met is online and in-person we really get to know one another by talking about anything and everything. It's always an adventure.

This past week two separate women contacted me out of the blue to join them for coffee here in my own little village. The first one is a businesswoman who joined a networking site called Alignable where you basically only interact with other businesses.  She has lived in the area for the past ten years but she has never really become part of the community as she did her work elsewhere. She is now in the transition of bringing her business here. She thought it would be good to get to know some other people in the area so she has started reaching out to make coffee dates with other local business people she finds on that computer site. I wasn't really comfortable with this in the beginning. I mean, I didn't have a clue who she was or know anything about her line of work. Why would she want to meet me?  But after a week or so of writing a few messages back and forth, I decided I would go and find out. I did a little computer search on her so I had some idea of who to look for in the restaurant. She seemed a little impressed that I recognized her and knew just where she worked and lived. I'm apparently more computer literate than she is so perhaps I can be of some assistance to her in the future. She is a lovely lady and we found a lot of topics to discuss other than what we each do in our respective businesses. We exchanged a stack of business cards that we can each give to our own contacts so now I guess I'm networking offline as well as online.  I also told her of various social gatherings where she might meet more of the people she lives amongst and hopes to work with. I do hope she comes to some of them so I can get to know her better. I think we could become great friends.

The second one contacted me just the evening before she wanted to meet with me. She was going to be in my area the next morning and wondered if I was going to be free. I did a quick check with my hubby to see if he had any plans for us, but he was only planning to make a trip to the dump so I agreed to meet with her. Now this one I knew from a Facebook group or two so I knew we had something in common, but I didn't know much more about her either. We met through Sketchbook Skool so of course she came fully prepared to draw during our meeting. I had thought of that originally but somehow managed to leave my sketchbook in my other bag.  Silly me!  Well, she did dig out her beautifully handmade sketchbook and proceeded to draw me anyway, as she uses it as a sort of journal and this was her way of recording out meeting. I did a quick doodle in a little lined notebook I had in my purse, but I also took a couple of pictures of her and combined them to create my own drawing once I got home.  This meeting was a very comfortable one. It didn't feel like meeting a stranger at all. I hope she enjoyed it as much as I did as I know she comes back to this area from time to time. I'd love to spend more time with her and have already promised to bring my sketchbook and be prepared to draw with her in the future.

I do feel I'm in the process of making two new friends that I never would have met if I had not found them online first.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Thanksgiving Traditions

I know most of you think of Thanksgiving as a time to get together with family eat everything in sight, but our tradition is a little different. Thanksgiving comes at a time when nature is in her full glory and we like to find someplace where we can enjoy all she has to offer.

I have always been a rock and forest person. I feel a need to be in the woods and climb on rocks or at least be where there are some sizeable ones. I have long since warned my hubby that our summer holidays will include climbing either rocks or a lot of stairs in a natural setting. This year we didn't go on a vacation, but for Thanksgiving weekend, we finally made it to Rock Dunder.

The Rideau Waterway Land Trust preserves special places for the public to enjoy, and this is one of them. The trails at Rock Dunder are meant for the physically fit, and there is no way you could drag along a stroller or wheelchair though I did see several families with children and their dogs.

I have wanted to go there for several years, but I had bad knees, bad hips, the weather was too hot, too cold, too wet or there were just too many mosquitoes. There was always a reason we couldn't go.

This year I had not been feeling well for over a week before it was suggested we go. I knew that at 73 this might be my very last chance. I decided to go and just keep any complaints to myself. The weather could not have been more perfect, nor could the time of year. The leaves were spectacular and it was cold enough that there were no bugs at all, yet warm enough that I removed my jacket partway up the trail and never put it back on. The trail is challenging but fun.

There are interesting things to see along the way, if you keep your eyes open, such as this face in the rock. The problem is you are usually too busy watching where you place your feet to look up and around you very often.

My hubby was keeping an eye on me as he knew I had not been feeling well. Every once in a while he would make me stop to rest, though I must admit I objected most of the time.
There are a few benches along the way at good look off points, and there are a couple of cabins in the woods too.

 Yes, this is part of the trail, and not an unusual part either. Sometimes it would be hard to know which way to go, but there are yellow triangles nailed to the trees and where it's mainly rock, there are blue arrows painted right on the rocks.

The climb is worth it though. The view from the summit is spectacular, especially at this time of year.

I don't know if it's always this popular, but there were lots of people up there when we arrived and all along the trail. The parking lot was full and people were parked along the road for quite a while back on both sides. Some of them parked within the no parking zones, which was not good as the OPP are known to ticket the offenders.
It's a whole new way for me to see autumn leaves from above like this. I would happily have stayed up there for quite a while. The thing is though, that we wanted to be safely down off the rock before the sun went down and we weren't sure how long it would take. We were going down a different way than we came up. The brochure says the hiking time for the summit loop is 2 - 3 hours. Well, I'm sure we managed that easily enough but never having walked this trail before, and already seeing how the leaves and pine needles could hide an obvious path, we decided it was best not to linger too long.

The trail coming down sometimes went up as well.  There were little drizzles of paint on the rocks between the arrows so you stayed on the path.

Just like on the trip up, there were surprises to be found on the way down. These ones were harder to miss. There were several places where people had built lots of Inuktitut. They kind of made me smile whenever I came across them. There was also a beaver pond with a beaver house visible in it.

There were other people on the trail that we ran into fairly frequently. It turns out that one couple just lives about 12 miles from us. We likely saw them more often than any of the others since they were also in our age range and traveling at the same speed as we were. We often stepped off to one side of the path to let others go by in either direction.

I knew I didn't want to try to go down the way we came up. I thought it would be too difficult in that direction. I think I chose correctly as I don't think I'd want to go up in the direction we came down either. There are a few difficult spots going in either direction as it was. I occasionally needed a hand when the step was too big for me to handle unaided. I'm quite proud of myself for managing as well as I did and quite thrilled to discover I have no achy muscles the next day. I'm not so old after all. 

It was a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving, and I'm so glad I got to go.  I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as I did.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Call Before You Dig

I've seen a lot of ads lately reminding us to call before we dig. I had put off digging up a small flower garden in the front yard for a few years because I felt I had to call first, and I am notorious for avoiding picking up a phone. The thing is, the garden had been there for years when the gas company came along and shot their line right under it.  No digging required on their part, but it certainly put a complete halt to any digging I might do. My son, who used to work for Promark, tried to tell me that I wasn't going to dig deep enough to worry about, just moving flowers, but I figured if anyone was ever going to dig through a gas line, it would be me, so I just left everything to grow until it got completely out of hand.

Last fall I knew the day had come that I was going to have to bite the bullet and move that flower bed. I used a trowel and removed what I could and then we filled the whole area with rocks. This spring I discovered that I did not actually get all the roots and various things came up anyway. But at least I didn't dig through any gas lines.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case for one of my neighbours recently. I heard sirens and went outside to see what was going on just in time to see a fire truck come down my street. It parked in front of a house a couple of doors down and another one came and parked just beyond our lot line, and blocked off the road. Of course several of the neighbours wandered down the street to see what was going on. One said, "Well, there doesn't seem to be any smoke or fire,"just before he spotted a small digger and decided the gasline must have been breached. At that point, he turned around and headed for home without another word. The house owner came over and I asked if they broke the gas line, and she admitted that was what happened.  A fireman came and told us all to disperse.  He told us to get away from the area as there was gas and it was dangerous. Lovely.

I didn't have the nerve to dig the depth of a shovel without calling but if I was going to use a mechanical digger, I certainly would have made the call first.

The fire department has to wait for Enbridge to shut off the gas. Enbridge seemed to take a long time to arrive and it was all starting to make me a little nervous.  But eventually the line was secured and all the fire trucks and Enbridge vehicles went away.

This week there was a major explosion in London, Ontario when a car ran into a house and ruptured the gas line. The fire department was there within two minutes but about 12 minutes later the whole neighbourhood blew up. Seven people were injured. One hundred homes were evacuated and ten of those will be demolished. That has nothing to do with digging, but it sure lets me know how lucky we all were here.

Now I'm really glad I have a few flowers that I just didn't dig deep enough to eliminate. I might have eliminated myself in the process.  It's important to call before you dig!

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Cucumbers Like to Hide!

Every year I learn something new while gardening. This year was no exception.

I had tried to grow cucumbers before, but all I ever got was little round balls. It's not me, it's the soil in this area as my neighbours had the same problem. But now I have a raised bed filled with proper garden soil (not topsoil), so I thought I'd try again.

I put in three plants that I started from seed. One died immediately. A second one died after a couple of weeks. The third and last one sat there and didn't look like it was going to do anything for quite a while, and then suddenly it took off and grew vigorously.

I had tried to get this cucumber to climb a pole I had put in for it. I even moved the pole when it went in a different direction. It ignored the pole completely but decided that tomato plants were great for climbing on. Who knew?  The first cucumber I found was growing under tomato leaves. The second one was also under tomato leaves but outside of the garden, hanging over the side.  Then I found another one when I tried something I read in someone else's blog.

I like to grow zucchini. One plant is more than enough for any family. I usually just let the thing grow however it wants to. They look like tropical plants and that kind of pleases me somehow. Then I read that zucchinis, like tomatoes, grow all on one stem, and should be supported the same way you support a tomato plant. Well, the zucchini plant was far too big to put inside a tomato cage, so I got out one of my peony rings and passed the hoop around the plant and fastened it. Then I carefully poked the legs into the ground and the zucchini stood up so the new flowers won't have to fight for the light.

I had already been pruning off some of the leaves, but what I read said any leaves below the bottom zucchini could go. The stems are hollow but they are solid next to the stock so the trick is to trim them close enough that there is no hollow part left for insects or diseases to get into. Once I had done that I was rewarded with an unexpected third cucumber, happily hanging from a tomato plant just behind the zucchini.  I never would have spotted that if I had not read that other blog and decided to try what she was telling me.  I'm sure there are more in there somewhere but the tomatoes are too think at the moment to spot them.

Isn't gardening fun?

Friday, August 9, 2019

Mighty Weed Killer

My rock river has been an ongoing project for the past couple of years. We are not done yet. This year we put in some edging and the next step is to build a bridge across the river and maybe erect a trellis.

There is a wee bit of grass growing between where the mulch ends and the edging was placed. We will haul the mulch back a bit and put more garden fabric right over to the edging, but first we wanted to kill off the grass. Hubby went out with a concoction of vinegar and water, with a bit of dish soap. That didn't work, so he tried straight vinegar and declared the vinegar from Dollarama to be inferior stuff as it just was not killing off the grass.  I sighed and bought more of that same vinegar.  I had seen a recipe for a weed killer that was supposed to really work.
I figured we'd mix up a batch of that and give it a try.  Well, hey,
It not only killed off the bit of grass along the rock river, but I tested it out on the stone sidewalk out front too.  As  you can see, the part we sprayed died off within a day. Now we'll do the rest and test it out on individual weeds to see if we can get rid of big patches of creeping charlie or those pesky violets that just won't stay in the garden where they belong. If we can target the broad leaves on those without killing grass I will be thrilled!
For the rest of you who may wish to eliminate some vegitation, here's what I used.

One gallon of vinegar
One cup of lemon juice
One cup of salt
Two tablespoons of dish detergent (I used Dawn)

Put it in a garden sprayer and get to work.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Pineapple on Pizza

Lately, there has been a lot of posts on Facebook (and likely other places) about whether pineapple belongs on pizza. Some people really like it that combination and others, including myself, do not.  I had a Hawaiian pizza once and all I can remember was how disappointed I was. Pizza evokes a certain flavour memory that ham and pineapple just can't measure up to. I won't ever order one again. I have nothing against ham and pineapple. They go together. They just don't belong together on pizza dough. 

During all the arguments discussions about pineapple on pizza, someone tried to claim that fruit just doesn't belong on pizza. Well, hey, if you are building me a dessert pizza with strawberries and chocolate, I'll take that in a heartbeat! But when the subject of fruit on pizza came up, some wise person pointed out that tomatoes are also fruit.

One of my friends had, of course, heard that before, but suddenly wondered just why tomatoes are considered fruit and not vegetables since that's how most of us treat them. I said I thought it was because it had seeds inside. I knew there was another reason too, but hey, I've been out of school for 55 years so it wasn't coming to me.  She pointed out that cucumbers have seeds on the inside too. Well, I went home and asked Google if cucumbers were fruit, and sure enough, they are. So are peppers, eggplant and zucchini. Oh, now that last one excites me as I'll be able to use it against my fruit loving, vegetable avoiding husband, and just as the zucchini crop is starting to come on strong too.

The other reason these things are all fruit is that they form from the blossom, just like apples and peaches and cherries and berries, etc. Vegetables don't do that.

Fruits are the mature ovary of a plant and contain seeds to grow the next generation. Vegetables, on the other hand, are usually grouped according to the part of the plant that is eaten such as leaves (lettuce), stem (celery), roots (carrot), tubers (potato), bulbs (onion) and flowers (broccoli).  While they both are rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants fruit contains more sugar, so vegetables are considered to be better for your health.  

So, the next time you have a slice of pizza, remember the tomato or pizza sauce spread over the dough is not a vegetable serving. In fact, commercial tomato sauce has so much sugar in it that not only is it not a vegetable, but it should be classified as a dessert. Hmmmm.....let's skip the tomato sauce and get back to the idea of strawberries and chocolate chips. You might even try adding pineapple to that and I won't complain.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

This Day Was a Treat!

Today we decided to take in the Lansdowne Park Strawberry Social. It was hosted by the Farmers Market at the same location.  The last time we went to this market it was held inside, but that was quite a while ago. Today it was outside and the weather was perfect for it. There was a good crowd present and there was lots to see.

There were all kinds of booths with farm products. The most abundant things seemed to be various lettuces and of course, strawberries.

 I had a chat with a lady from Acorn Creek (one of my favourite producers) about what to do with the scapes in my garden. I'm not fond of pesto, which is what everyone keeps telling me to make with them. Now I know I can cut them up and put them in my stirfries. She says she doesn't use the "blossom" part. Good thing she told me that as I might have thought that was the only part to use. The only scapes I have ever seen before came pickled in a jar from Almonte.

I came home with multicoloured beets and, of course, strawberries.

Other things found at the market are crafts


and specialty foods, like those produced by the Falafel Guys.

But as I said, we went for the Strawberry social where we were treated to helpings of strawberry shortcake (donation appreciated).

I also enjoyed getting to vote on my favorite strawberry jam.  There were 8 samples in the contest and I had to go back and test a couple of them over again to make my final choice. Such a chore!

Earlier in the week I had read something about a place called Cinnaholic and decided to look that up. I was fascinated to discover the franchise exists in Ottawa and told my hubby we would have to seek it out someday.  They let you custom design your own cinnamon bun. You pick the type of icing you want on it and also choose whatever toppings you may want on top of that. I was so excited when we came out of the parking garage and the first thing I saw was a Cinnaholic shop, so there was no way I was going home without trying this place out. We stopped in before we headed back to the car. Okay, so maybe it was lunch time and we had already had strawberry shortcake, but really, could you pass up an opportunity like that?

My hubby chose to top his with banana cream and coconut, while I chose cream cheese and strawberries. I told him mine looked prettier, but I could tell he was really enjoying his too.

Everything about out outing today was a treat.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

My Pet Rock

About forty years ago my hubby scooped me up off the bathroom floor, deposited the kids at a  neighbour's and took me to the Emergency Room at a nearby hospital. All I can tell you about that was that the pain that put me on that floor was worse than childbirth but by the time we got to the hospital it had subsided. Luckily the doctor on call was someone who knew us and after giving me a quick check over, the two men had a little chat about mundane things while he kept one eye on me. He ended up saying there was a strange bug going around and that I probably had that. I was sent home with orders from the doctor for my hubby to administer some TLC.

Over the next year or so I would get a strange feeling in my stomach area. I would be fine and be walking somewhere and it would come on me. It wasn't a pain but it had the tendency to make me put my hand on my abdomen as I walked. There was no sense in trying to getting a doctor's appointment as I would never be able to describe it unless it was happening.

One day I was downtown near my doctor's office when it started. I wandered in and told the receptionist that I needed 30 seconds of his time. She, of course, didn't think that was possible. I told her I could only describe this while it was happening and that after that I could make whatever appointment was deemed necessary. The doctor saw me and ordered an ultrasound.

When I went for the ultrasound the technician spotted something and told me that she was going to roll me over and if it moved it was a gallstone.  Well, I rolled over and she was awful quiet for a while before sighing and saying, "There it goes."  So when I got back to the doctor's office and he told me about gallstones, I figured maybe I had passed one earlier and that was what that bad pain was all about.  I asked if changing my diet would cure the problem and he said it would not. I then decided I would eat what I wanted because if he decided it needed to come out it would be better if that happened while I was young and healthy enough to survive an operation. I never had a bad pain again and if I got that strange feeling too often I would just cut back on bacon and fries for a while.

A few months ago I went to the ER again with a pain that had been moving to a different location every day for a week. It would have taken 3 weeks just to see my own doctor (things have changed over the years, eh).  I explained the pains and mentioned the gallstone. The ER doctor didn't think it was that. She tested me for all kinds of things. I had blood and urine samples taken, a chest x-ray, and some good poking.  The ER doctor suggested that I come back the next day for an ultrasound. Before that test, I warned the technician that she would find a big gallstone in there. I knew about it but it had never bothered me in the past 40 years. The ultrasound showed the thing was now the size of a golf ball!  I found out later the doctor was actually looking for kidney stones.  I don't have those.

The doctor asked why, since I knew I had a large gallstone, I still had it. Simple question. The simple answer was that nobody had ever suggested that I have it taken out. It has never bothered me. In fact, I had given my current doctor the blast for not checking my gallbladder during my yearly routine checkups (when we had such things) and she said, "Well, you don't have a gallbladder problem." I informed her then that I'd had gallstones for years.  She seemed genuinely surprised when she got a report about the size of it. Suddenly it seemed the doctors thought it was best to get rid of the thing. I said again that it had never bothered me in the past 40 years. But they kind of made a point of stressing that if it did decide to do something it would be really bad. The next thing I knew I was scheduled for surgery......within a month, if you can believe that!

So this week, just one month after meeting the surgeon, I gave up my gallbladder. I have heard of others getting to see the gallstones that were taken out of them, and some even kept them. I never saw mine. Maybe I should have asked for it. After 40 years of being part of me, it was kind of like a pet rock.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Fruit That Bites Back

Lately, I have been buying more fruit. We almost always have apples, bananas and grapes in the house, unless we run out of something before the next shopping trip. I usually have a couple of oranges and lemons here too.  Lately, I've added whatever others were on sale in a bid to keep myself out of things like cookies and potato chips when I get the mid-day munchies.

Last week it was kiwi and strawberries. This week the pineapples were on sale for $1.98. I took a good look at them and found a big one with a fresh top that looked a bit riper than the others. I took it home, put it in a paper bag with a couple of apples and left it on the counter for a day and a  half. When I looked again it had ripened right up. The ethylene gas in apples does that to a lot of things but this was the first time I'd tried it on a pineapple.

I never used to like pineapple. Then I went to Hawaii where it was part of every morning's breakfast buffet. Oh my goodness, people, you have never tasted real pineapple until you've had one that was actually ripe when it was picked! They are so sweet and delicious! The ones we get here are picked green and most of the time we don't give them a chance to ripen up. Well, my method did wonders for the one I brought home as it was definitely sweet and juicy, and I really enjoyed it. That is until I was reminded of another reason I'm not fond of pineapple.

My tongue got sore. I had forgotten that feeling. Pineapple always makes my tongue sore. But hey, today we all have the internet so I decided to type in the question of why that happens. Seems I'm not the only one that's asked that question and the answer is really easy to find. Not only does pineapple contain citric acid (like lemons), it contains an enzyme called bromelain. This enzyme digests protein. In fact, it does that so well it is often used to tenderize meat.

Pineapples are the only food that contain bromelain. The protein it finds when I eat pineapple is the tender tissue inside my mouth. It actually starts digesting me!  My lips, tongue and cheeks can get sore. It seems it can get so bad in some people (who likely eat more pineapple in one sitting than I ever would) that their mouth actually starts to bleed.  In most cases, though the effects wear off in just a few hours.

The best way to enjoy your pineapple and avoid such a problem is to cut the core out. Most of the bromelain is concentrated there.  Hawaiians say that you can lessen the problem by soaking the whole thing in brine before cutting it up or just sprinkling salt on the cut pineapple. I've never tried that but I do put salt on other things people find strange (apples, watermelon and cheese) so I may just try that. Another trick is to eat the pineapple with yogurt or ice cream so the bromelain has another protein to digest instead of your sensitive tissue. 

One good thing I've learned from all this research though is that the bromelain may act as an anti-inflammatory.  With the weather swings we have been having lately, that could come in handy.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Cooking in the Modern Age

This question has come up on Facebook:  "How many husbands are absolutely thrilled you've become obsessed with your Instant Pot?"  It seems most of them are. In fact many of them have either taken over the cooking job or declared themselves official tasters. I did have to laugh when one woman said her husband has pleaded for a pork chop cooked in a frying pan though.  I'm not obsessed (yet) but I am discovering how easily that could happen.

On Christmas morning my son said to me, as I was opening my presents, "If you don't want this, or think you might never use it, just say so and I'll take it back." He was somewhat concerned about what he referred to as my phobia concerning pressure cookers. Okay, true I never used one because I was sure I'd blow up the darn thing.  My mom loved hers but she never taught me to use it, and they didn't teach us about them in home economics where we learned most other housewifely duties either. (Okay, so I guess I just aged myself).

I accepted the gift, though it took me a little while to get brave enough to use it. I really didn't like the sound of any of the recipes in the book that came with it so I wasn't tempted at first. For a couple of days I was actually thinking I really should have turned this rather expensive gift down. What do I need this thing for anyway? Then I decided I better run the test cycle and figure out what to do next. Testing involves putting some water in it and bringing it up to pressure, just to make sure the seals work. So far, so good.

I went online and looked for recipes and also discovered a group on Facebook called Instant Pot 101 for Beginners. That sounded like a good place to start. From there I found a really good newsletter that lists several tried and true recipes each week. Wondering what to start with, someone suggested I practice by just boiling eggs. There is a chart available that shows all the different stages of cooked eggs and you can decide how long to leave it in there by matching the picture of the egg that looks like your idea of perfect to the time to cook it. So, I tried that. I can't say that it was any faster than boiling one as the water had to heat up enough to build the pressure up before the timer would start. But the egg did come out perfect and I had finally cooked something in there. It won't become the way we do boiled eggs here though as I like a nice runny yolk and my hubby likes everything super firm. In a regular pot, I can just take mine out after 3 minutes and have it all gone before he is even thinking of removing his. In an Instant Pot, you can't exactly take the cover off to take out the one I consider done as it will let the pressure out.

So next I decided we could try some pulled pork. The instructions told me to cut the roast into 3 or 4 pieces and use the Saute setting to brown the meat first. After de-glazing the pan I added the rest of the ingredients and cooked the meat. Since it was already cut into 4 pieces, I just shredded one of them for the pulled pork, and we ate the rest as roast pork. That's great for us as the individual pieces can become separate meals, and I can even freeze portions if I want for some other time.

The next thing I made was a mix of chicken thighs, rice and black beans and salsa. It had chili in it and was really tasty. That also lasted us a few days.

Then this week I brought home both ribs and chicken legs from the grocery store. I thought I'd cook one of those up and freeze the other, but I ended up cooking the ribs the first night, and cooking an entire meal of chicken, potatoes, celery, carrots and onions  the next. Everything came out perfectly cooked and very tasty. The trick is in the stacking. Apparently you have to put the stuff that will take the longest to cook at the bottom. I'm getting so brave I even changed the spices I used and cut down on the onions.

Last night we ate the left over ribs with the left over potatoes and carrots from the chicken dinner. Tonight we can eat the left over chicken which I will likely pair with some rice. As I see it, this gadget should cut down on my electric bill as it only takes minutes to cook a meal that could take an hour or more in the oven and on the stove. Since there are only two of us, there is always enough for another night or two. That means I don't even have to cook as often, which should cut the electric bill even further.  I'm not obsessed with this gadget yet though, as I still have a lot of favourite recipes that I will cook the way I always did. In fact, I like my old way of cooking ribs better, because I like to put sauce on rice to go with them and that didn't happen with the Instant Pot recipe I used. Maybe I just need to try a different recipe next time.

With Instant Pot, I am still at a stage where I have to follow the directions step by step. It's not like you can just take the lid off and check on how things are doing or adjust the spices.  Or maybe you can, but then I wouldn't know how much longer to put it back in for. I'm learning as I go though, and it's rather fun to see how things turn out. I know others have had failures and I will keep following the facebook page page as the people there are quick to give guidance if you need it.  Right now, I'd say it's the biggest time saver since the microwave, and may soon be used here just as often. As for my husband, I'm not sure if thrilled is the word, but he is enjoying the food that comes out of this gadget, and that's all that matters.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

New Year, New Way of Life

The holiday season has come and gone so people are back to asking me how things are now that my hubby has retired. This is when I have to confess that it's more like I'm the one that retired.

It used to be that I worked through the week at housework while he was out making a living. There were times when I truly felt overwhelmed at how much there was to do and how little time there was to do it all in. I had a schedule. There were certain things to do every day, or once a week or once a month. There was always a running list of chores and at certain times of the year they piled up because of extra seasonal things that got added in. Spring cleaning tends to start in January around here as tax season comes along soon afterwards and I do taxes for everyone in my family. Then its gardening season and apple season. It['s a lot of work just picking up the windfalls and making something out of them every day. Then comes baking for Christmas, which usually starts just after Halloween. Those pumpkins need to be used up you know. Christmas shopping, decorating and doing the cards rounds out the year. It doesn't help when I decide to get in on International card exchanges where I'm expected to design, draw and hand paint the cards myself.

Some people think I'm on the computer a lot but it's really only a moment here and there while I catch my breath with a spot of tea. And while I'm on there I'm doing my banking, paying bills, catching up on my business accounts, dealing with the martial arts federation and the school board as well as inquiries from students and would be students. I'm a pretty busy girl running a house and a karate club at the same time.


The thing is, I never did any work when my hubby was home on weekends. He was off, so I was off and we were free to do whatever we chose to do with those weekends. But now he's home all day, everyday and I seem to be in weekend mode all the time. I've apparently retired too.

I didn't want him bored so I've included him in my social outings. That's good as he's making new friends. He's not one to sit idle so he has cleaned up his work area in the basement and now has a place to create things out of metal or wood. We had part of a huge tree taken down, so he's been busy cleaning up the mess made by that operation. If he has a spare moment, I catch him doing dishes or laundry or dust-moping under the couch. It's nice that he's willing to help me, but I must admit it makes me feel guilty. I'm not keeping up with my chores these days. In fact, I'm not on track at all. I really have to get back to my schedule. I'm already two weeks behind on the spring cleaning as all I've done so far is clean out a couple of kitchen shelves and done some of filing. As things stand I'm sure my hubby is now convinced I have never done anything around here all those years he let me stay home.

I'm not even getting my daily exercise as he keeps wanting to drive me everywhere I normally walk. But yet he goes for a brisk walk everyday. Between not moving as much around the house and not getting out for my walk while I do my downtown chores, I'm likely to gain weight, or stiffen up with age, or both.

Okay, so it's Spring Cleaning time.  Let's start with the light fixtures.  He can climb up to take them down one by one. I can wash them and he can put them back up. He likes to work so maybe I can get him to work for me. Maybe between the two of us we can get things done in half the time and still have time for us both to be retired at least part of each day.  We can walk down for the mail together, and then he can take off at a clip in whatever direction he wants and I can meet him at home. I like that plan. I never thought I could retire too.