Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gravy Master

I come home to find Larry's old pressure cooker sitting on the stove. I lift the lid and see a pot roast.

Immediately, I hear my mother's voice in my head: Don't use those things! They're very dangerous! It'll blow up in your face!

I answer back. Oh, stop being so paranoid. Larry is a great cook.

Larry's had this pressure cooker forever. It was his grandfather's, and this is the first time I've seen him use it in the six years I've known him.

I help Larry prepare the remaining ingredients. Potatoes, carrots, and onions are all dumped in, along with homemade gravy. It works like a crock pot, only much faster.

I'm starving and this looks really, really, really good.

Since our cookbooks are still packed away, Larry does a quick Internet search to find out how long you'd cook a pot roast in a pressure cooker.

"About an hour," he says, walking down the stairs.

Larry clicks the lid on and shows me how the weights work. A small vent pipe on top is covered with what looks like a thimble, which closes the vent hole on top of the pipe. Two rings sit on top of the thimble and hold it down. One increases the pressure to five pounds, the other to ten.


Larry puts both weights on and I cringe.

"What if the pressure becomes too much?"

He points to the little black rubber safety thing. If the pressure becomes too much, the stopper will just pop off, easing the pressure. I feel better when he tells me this.

"Alright, go to the store and get us some bread."

(whining) "Do I have to? It's cold out there."

He convinces me that we need bread with this dinner.

"Come with me," I say.


We head for horrible Gristinky's, with its bad produce, rampant price gouging, and militant, straight-out-of- prison-cashiers with tattooed necks.

After selecting a nice sourdough bread, we browse for a bit, picking up some other items, like coffee cake (only 1.99? Let's get two!), and gravy for Sunday's dinner. I see Gravy Master on the shelf and wonder why they never changed their packaging after the recall.

At the checkout, I wonder which cashier we'll end up with. Will it be the stupid one who can't read a price tag? Or the new one, who looks like a young Hispanic version of Kathy Bates' character Annie Wilkes in Misery, only much scarier.

It turns out that we get neither, as a third cash register is open by the strange little "bodega" area where they sell things like lotto tickets and cigarettes.

Question: Who is the sadistic idiot who thought up those "scan it yourself" credit card readers? I miss the days when you'd just hand over your credit card, watch them swipe it, and then take it back.

Now we have to watch computer illiterate fools try to swipe their cards, only to have the cashier hold their hand through the entire process.

"Press Enter....again."

"Please swipe your card..."

"Would you like cash back?"

"Ummm...I don't know..." (cash drawer closes) "Yes, please."

Wouldn't it be easier for us all if Little Miss Blondie just paid in cash? I guess these are a necessary evil in the days of debit cards and super-secret PIN numbers, but still, it's very annoying.

I don't hear anything as I turn the key in the front door, which means that the pressure cooker didn't explode.

I put the shopping bags on the counter.

Click Read More to find out how dinner turned out.

It turned out like this:

...and this...

...and this...

...and this...

Apparently, the little black rubber safety thing actually worked, although the pressure inside the pot was that of a fire hose, enabling it to shoot scalding hot gravy and bits of meat skyward at high speed, splattering violently all over the underside of the new range hood, the tiled back splash, the side wall, and the new cabinets.

The new floor is sticky with each step. A puddle of thick gravy oozes out from the bottom of the stove, meaning a huge mess underneath.

We stand there, shocked. I get my camera and take pictures.

A long and tedious cleanup ensues. Windex, Fantastik, paper towels and hot water are the weapons of choice. The walls are covered in slimy, sticky gravy, which is wet in some spots, dry in others. I wipe a piece of meat off the ceiling and gag. The smell is vile.

We decide to stop cleaning for a bit, as we're both exhausted now.

Larry takes a look in the pot. Remarkably, the meat is fully cooked - after only fifteen minutes! We have no idea what went wrong. Too much liquid? Not enough? Too many weights? All of the above?

The carrots and potatoes are incredibly soft, although the meat is a bit like firewood dry.

"Just dip your fork in the gravy," says Larry, pointing to the puddle under the stove.

"No thank you."

I notice that there are no onions to be found. Were they vaporized in the explosion?

Finally, a dinner disaster you can't blame on me.


Hamamama said...

O.M.G -- you cant make this shit up!! I'm trying not to laugh but this is hysterical. This has to be your all-time post and thanks for taking the photos -- it definitely does the story justice!

Chris said...

I said to Larry. "Tomorrow, we'll laugh about this." But I was laughing the whole time. said...

From the looks of it, the onions caramelized to nothing. Lordy Lordy. At least u have a story to tell about how the apartment was christened.

Christopher said... that's well done beef!

Carrots & potatoes still look eatable.

Anonymous said...

I will keep this in mind the next time we come over for dinner....this absolutly made my day! Lisa