Do you like pressure cookers? I have two Instant Pots, and I use them frequently. I do not, however, like the pressure cooker that is Covid-19.
The Instant Pot cooks everything to perfection using safe pressure technology but eventually the pressure must be released. Depending on the recipe you may need to release the pressure immediately. Sometimes it’s best to leave it sit for a natural pressure release. Some recipes require you to let it start with a natural pressure release and then release the rest of the pressure manually. If I’m honest, most of the time I just press the button and hope for the best.
That feels a lot like pandemic life.
I am incredibly fortunate. My job as a seamstress and costume designer stopped due to no grads, weddings, or theatre, but I was ready to retire anyway. My husbands employment was never threatened. He pivoted to working from his home office, I pivoted to writing.
We had no loved ones in the ICU, we didn’t fear job loss, our kids were ok, and we remained healthy, but we still felt the pressure.
I’m sure you experienced it too – everything changed seemingly overnight. We had to adjust quickly to masks, social distancing, no gathering together, and online EVERYTHING. All of society was in panic mode and it was hard. It still is hard a lot of the time.
My mental health tanked. Most of 2020 was spent fighting my depression with an ever-weakening white-knuckle grip. Turns out I was fighting a multi-dimensional mental health battle that included not only depression, but also worsening anxiety and PTSD. The pressure was getting to me, and it was making everything harder.
I talked with my family, admitted I needed help, and we all agreed…
2021 would be the year of my mental health recovery.
You can read all about it in my Neurofeedback category, where I share in detail six months of brain training at Neurvana. It worked – I remain off my antidepressants, and while I still deal with situational depression sometimes, it’s manageable now, as long as I keep doing the work to manage it.
This is our society’s new normal – EVERYONE is under extreme pressure. It’s only a matter of time before we need to blow off some steam in a way that doesn’t create a mess. I speak from experience – I have made a few messes in my time – life messes and kitchen messes.
One of my favorite things to make in the Instant Pot is a whole chicken. I can throw it in the pot fully frozen, season it up, add a cup of water, and it’s cooked in an hour. Even better, I can save the bones, put them back in the pot with some more water, hit the soup button, and end up with homemade chicken stock in just a few minutes.
While this appliance appears to be ‘instant’, some recipes require more patience than others.
I learned this the hard way. I added some extra spices and seasonings to my bone broth, excited to taste it once it beeped. My impatience made me press the manual pressure release button instead of waiting for it to release naturally. Big mistake. The liquid started spewing out of the pressure valve along with the steam, a veritable bone broth fountain. It was too late to reverse my action. All I could do was drape a kitchen towel over the valve to minimize the broth’s velocity, and mop up the mess once it was done.
I’ve made a few life messes while blowing off emotional steam too fast. Hey – haven’t we all? These days, I prefer to focus on managing a slow pressure release to prevent hurt feelings, damaged relationships, and regrets.
I have a few favorite self-care practices to help me do just that:
- A long hot bubble bath with a delicious beverage and a good book.
- A walk and talk with a good friend.
- A toes-up in front of a good movie.
- Hiding under the covers with a good book.
- Batch cooking and mess making with my daughters.
Recently, I blew off steam in a new way.
A friend of mine knows a registered collie breeder. Jo-ann owns and operates Cardoness Collies near Leduc, Alberta and she has a new litter of puppies. They are 6 weeks old which is the perfect age for snuggling! We drove 2.5 hours to her home and spent the afternoon cuddling puppies, getting our toes chewed on, and watching them nap in a cozy puppy pile. It was magical.
I mean, just look at those furry little faces!! There is very little that plagues my soul that can’t be eased by hugging a puppy. No, I didn’t smuggle one out under my coat. I definitely got a thorough sniffing from my three dogs once I got back home, though!
The drive was good too. My friend and I had time to really dig in to great conversation about the stuff that matters to us. We both benefitted from the smushy puppy endorphins as well as time spent together.
What works for you when you need to blow off some steam?
Is it exercise? Time spent with a friend or loved one? Do you like to get creative? Maybe you are like me, and time spent with pets is soothing to the soul.
Do you have an Instant Pot? If so, you may want to try my bone broth recipe. It’s a great stock for cooking, or just on its own to treat a cold or flu. Just remember to let the pressure release naturally!
My IP Bone Broth
Instructions are for an 8 qt Instant Pot
Carcass from roasted chicken or turkey. (Be sure to use all the cartilage and connective joint tissue – they add a lot of nutrients.)
Drippings from roasting pan or IP.
Add water to fill line. Add small splash of apple cider vinegar (plain white vinegar is fine too). The vinegar softens the bones during the cooking process allowing the marrow to release nutrients.
Onion powder or one onion, quartered
Garlic powder or a few cloves of garlic
Celery seed or a couple stalks of celery
Ginger powder or about 1 inch fresh ginger
(I use about a tablespoon of each of the seasonings – I like a savory flavorful broth. Adjust them according to your taste.)
Press soup/broth button, and wait for the beeps.
Allow a natural pressure release when it is finished.
Strain bones from broth. Chill to allow fat to congeal and skim off broth. (To skim the fat immediately, you can use a large metal ladle filled with ice. Just skim the bottom of the ladle along the surface of the broth. The fat will cling to the ladle, making it easy to remove.)
Enjoy the broth on its own, use as a soup base, or freeze in small containers for whenever a recipe calls for chicken stock.
Pro tip – when I prep fresh vegetables, I freeze the broccoli and cauliflower stems, carrot pieces, mushrooms, celery stalks, and onion and garlic pieces all together in a large freezer bag. When it’s time to make bone broth again, I pull it out of the freezer and dump it in the IP with the carcass. Less fresh produce goes to waste, and they boost the nutrition and flavor of the broth.