In the spring when the green beans in the garden were ready, the pressure canner was brought into the kitchen. My grandmother, Aunt Belle and sometimes my mother began canning vegetables.
My sister, brother, numerous cousins and I knew to stay out of the kitchen when the pressure cooker was being used. The warning we got was, “It could blow up and we would all be scalded.”
After my folks bought a freezer, the pressure cooker was used less and less each year.
For me, that freezer had another use. Summers in my hometown — below the gnat line — are brutally hot. When nobody was watching, I would raise the lid of the freezer just to feel the cold air.
I am not sure when a pressure cooker for everyday cooking became an essential. But when I saw green beans, peas or butter beans on the table, the pressure cooker was usually in the sink. After dinner, along with the other dishes, my job was to wash it.
When my sister and I began cooking, we were taught to be cautious when using the pressure cooker. You would never take the “jiggler” or the lid off too early. You could get severely burned from the escaping steam.
Too, we were to check to see the rubber gasket was in good condition and the lid was locked before we turned on the stove.
My mother loved to tell the story of when my brother, Coy, went down the road to our Great-aunt Mary and cousin Amelia’s house and asked, “Can I have some dinner?”
Of course, Amelia was concerned. Both my dad and mom worked days. We children — late preteens and one teenager — in the summer were home by ourselves. They would never have left us without more than enough food.
Coy explained to her that our sister, Martha, was using the pressure cooker. She opened it too early and peas shot all over the kitchen. Coy told Amelia that peas were stuck on the ceiling.
When Joe Cline and I married, I knew little about cooking. Other than at breakfast, hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches were staples at our house for several months.
Bess Cline, Joe’s mother, was a great, made-from-scratch cook. She used her pressure cooker most every day. I learned much of what I know about cooking from her.
I am sure Joe was silently thankful when his mama got him off a diet of hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches. He always had a big garden and I was soon cooking beans, peas, squash, fried okra and corn. If he grew it, I could cook it.
For years now I have not had a pressure cooker. Somehow, it got a crack in it. I have not replaced it because I have done little cooking unless the children and grandchildren are here.
I plan to cook more this summer when local fresh vegetables are ready. The first thing I need to do is buy a pressure cooker.
Until this week every memory I had about pressure cookers was a warm memory.
That changed when it was reported that the bombs killing, maiming and wounding runners and spectators at the nationally known and time-honored Boston Marathon were made with them.
Once again, we were reminded that everything around us, no matter how simple, in the hands and hearts of evil and/or demented people can be used as a weapon.
The weapons list is not limited to knives, box cutters, hazardous materials, guns, ice picks, etc. Even a simple pressure cooker, from this time forward, is suspect.
So, what can you and I do to totally protect ourselves and those we love from those who are intent on savagely destroying us and our American way of life? Although we are diligent in doing what we can do, we have accepted that we will never be totally safe from the wrongful deeds of others.
But we do not give up the fight or the right to protect our country or our individual freedoms on which it was founded.
Almost daily we are reminded that, “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
At the same time we are reminded of the daily violence in our society inflicted by those who should not have been allowed to have guns or any weapons accessible to them.
But today, unreasonable as it seems, this thought keeps running across my mind. “If pressure cookers are outlawed, only outlaws will have pressure cookers.”
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.