So much food -growing food, raising food, cooking food and, don't forget, eating food- happens at our house. A few days ago my daughter was ranting, "I've been gone for two days and I get up in the morning and come downstairs and into the kitchen. There is a pan of Congo Bar Cookies half gone, pasta (with a Picchi Pacchi sauce), a loaf of homemade bread and fresh jam, and a piece of pie -ONLY ONE PIECE. Who eats an entire pie in two days? Oh, and stuff to make burgers, don't forget. I mean WHO lives this way!?!" I think she mostly was just amazed noticing how much food we cook and eat but I almost felt I was suppose to apologize. I make no apologies though and I feel I am so fortunate to have the time to cook, the best of foods to cook with, and people who (mostly) appreciate it -my husband runs almost 7 miles a day and my son is doing hard physical labor for 10+ hour shifts.
Today I was thinking about which food to talk to you about: making s'mores and grilled teriyaki salmon steaks in our fire pit last night, making blackberry jam this morning with blackberries I picked yesterday, cooking the 'variety meats' of recent farm butcherings, making Chinese plum sauce with my son yesterday, the cinnamon rolls I was planning to make and/or the soup I was just now putting together. Most of my family had just left for the day (Bumbershoot Music Festival), which might have meant no-cooking-dinner-tonight, but last time I jumped to that (erroneous) conclusion, they all returned home late with, "I'm STARVING. What's there to eat?" and my "I just had a bowl of popcorn for dinner" reply was NOT the answer anyone was hoping for. Therefore, a freshly baked loaf of bread and soup, waiting on the stove for whoever and whenever, came to my mind as the perfect answer.
Soup made in my pressure cooker, using meaty stock from the freezer, dried beans and barley, with lots of garden vegetables added, would be perfect. It would have been perfect too, except for my going to the garden to get the vegetables and leaving the beans and stock on high in the pressure cooker. Throughout my childhood, my grandmother repeatedly told the story of how she had been called outside to help with a cow emergency while canning vegetables in her huge pressure cooker. She returned to find her entire stove had been smashed in from the force of the exploding pressure cooker. You would think such a story, ingrained in someone practically from birth, would keep them from making the same mistake. You, of course would be mistaken. Luckily, my little Presto pressure cooker has a new-fangled (an improvement from Granny's time) safety valve that pops out. Not so luckily, it shoots the contents through the (relatively small) safety valve hole under GREAT PRESSURE which makes a rather spectacular mess. My (unharmed) 17-year old was nearby and quickly changed from terrified to disgusted, "Is this, like, meat juice in my hair?" I spent the next few hours cleaning the kitchen of its meat juice. I also added more stock to the pressure cooker (the unspewed contents were fine) along with the vegetables from my ill-timed garden trip -and continued my soup making. Now that I'm exhausted and ready for something to eat, soup IS perfect.