Posted in Caretaker, Elderly, Marriage, Recipes, Sickness, Widow

Recipes for Pressure Cooker

Recipes for Pressure Cooker

These recipes are for beginner cooks, and may come in handy for a young adult who has just moved out or the older adult who suddenly finds that his/her spouse can’t cook anymore.  The amounts can be adjusted according to taste. I tried to keep everything simple here, and this is just to get started. The pot I use is the “Farberware 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker”. I have also tried them in the “InstaPot” though I’m not as familiar with the settings on that pot. If something just doesn’t work for you, please let me know about it.

4 Favorite Simple Recipes

  • Chicken and Vegetables
  • Navy Bean with Bacon Soup
  • Beef Stew
  • Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans

Ingredients to have on hand:

  •         Canned Tomatoes (14.5 oz cans of fire roasted or regular)
  •         Chicken Broth and Beef Broth (get cans or 32 oz cartons of low-sodium. Most recipes call for about 2 cups, so you’ll have some leftover. Date the carton and put in fridge. Use within 1 week)
  •         Cream of Mushroom Soup – one can
  •         Can of Evaporated Milk
  •         Onion Soup Mix
  •         Navy Beans – 1 bag of dried beans
  •         Bacon
  •         Beef Stew Meat (1-2 pounds)
  •         Chicken Breasts – fresh, not frozen (it seems to make a difference)
  •         Pork Chops – boneless
  •         Potatoes – (bag of medium red potatoes)
  •         Carrots – fresh bunch or “baby carrots”
  •         Green Beans (whole, fresh or whole, frozen)
  •         Celery – 1 bunch
  •         Onions (2 -3 small to medium brown onions)
  •         Garlic – fresh
  •         Prepared Mashed Potatoes (Hormel has nice tubs of prepared potatoes – usually in the deli section.)


  •         Garlic Powder
  •         Smoked Paprika
  •         Onion Powder
  •         Maybe an Italian Seasoning or some other blend that looks good to you

Recipe for Beef Stew

  •         2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  •         Beef Stew Meat (approx. 1 lb.)
  •         4 potatoes peeled and quartered, unless they are red potatoes, then don’t peel.
  •         Carrots – peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces unless they are baby carrots – leave whole
  •         Celery – 1 or 2 stalks, cut according to taste
  •         Onion – 1/2 quartered or diced
  •         1 cup of Green Beans (whole fresh or frozen)
  •         1 package of Onion Soup Mix
  •         1/4 cup of flour
  •         Salt and Pepper (approx. 1 tsp. each)
  •         1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
  •         1 tsp. garlic powder
  •         2 Cups Beef Broth
  •         2 Cups Water

Heat oil in pot.

Put flour and salt and pepper into a ziplock bag and shake to mix. Add the beef, shake to coat. Add meat and onions to pot and brown (approx. 5 mins.)

Keep meet in pot and add all vegetables. Sprinkle onion soup mix on everything and stir. Stir in beef broth and water.

Cover and lock lid. Set Menu to Stew setting (02). The default time on that is 35 minutes. You might want to let it sit for a while to release the steam naturally, or just release it yourself!


Pork Chops

This recipe works for 2 to 6 pork chops                                                                                            Brown meat, sliced onion and 1 cup of sliced mushrooms (optional) in 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

Mix together 1 can of mushroom soup and 1 cup of beef broth or can of condensed milk. Add 1 tsp. garlic powder and pepper.

Pour soup over pork chops and use “Meat” setting on pot.

Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetable

Chicken and Vegetables

2 – 4 half breasts                                                                                                                                               2 cups chicken broth                                                                                                                                         Potatoes (quartered)                                                                                                                                   Carrots (cut into bite sized pieces)                                                                                                    Green beans (fresh or frozen)                                                                                                         Smoked Paprika                                                                                                                                      Pepper                                                                                                                                                    Sprinkle paprika and pepper on both sides of chicken and brown chicken in 2 tablespoons of olive oil (3 mins per side)                                                                                                                     Pile vegetables on top of chicken

Pour chicken broth over all                                                                                                                Season with 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning

Use “Soup” setting


Navy Bean Soup

½ package of bacon or 1 ham hock

1 package navy beans

2 carrots chopped

32 oz. of vegetable or chicken broth

1 can of diced tomatoes (I like “fire-roasted” or “Italian seasoned”)

Thyme – fresh or 1 tsp. powder

4 cups water

If you use bacon, cut it into bite-sized pieces. I use kitchen shears – it’s easier. Cook bacon on highest setting. If using a ham hock, you don’t need to brown it first. Just throw it in with all the other ingredients and turn the pot on “bean” setting.

Posted in Uncategorized

Talking them down

Our oldest daughter, Bethany, is an excellent mother, so what I’m about to share may sound a little odd. Chalk it up to several nights in a row of very little sleep due to sick children, whacked out hormones due to pregnancy and a leaking roof.  Yesterday, I answered a call from Bethany. I could hear 5 year old Kayleigh and 3 year old Logan screaming in the background.

“Mom, you need to talk them down. I just took Logan to the doctor’s and was told that he has a really bad ear infection. The doctor is worried about his eardrum.”

“Oh, dear! Logan’s crying because his ear hurts so badly?”

“No, he’s crying because he doesn’t want to take his medicine.”

“And why’s Kayleigh crying?”

“Well,” yelled Bethany above the din, “I was trying to explain to Logan that if he didn’t take his medicine, his eardrum would burst, but all Kayleigh heard was that Logan’s ear would explode.”

Now I could hear Kayleigh’s words as she wailed, “Oh, my poor, poor baby brother Logan! His ear is going to explode, and he won’t be able to hear anymore! Poor, little Logan!  Ohhhhhhh!

“Let me talk with Kayleigh first,” I said.

“Grammy, sniff, I’m terrified that Logan’s ear is going to explode!”

“Kayleigh, Mommy didn’t really mean that Logan’s ear would explode, but she was trying to help him understand how important it is that he take his medicine. Will you do me a favor, Kayleigh? Will you pray for Logan and ask God to make his ear all better? God will take care of him, and then you won’t have to be afraid.”

“Okay, Grammy, sniff, I’ll pray for Logan in my forehead.”

Soon after Kayleigh talked with God, she felt better and told me she wasn’t terrified anymore. I was on a roll, so I asked to talk with Logan.

“Logan, when I was a little girl, I had an earache so bad that it made me cry too, but then I took the medicine that the doctor gave me, and it was all better! Will you be a good boy and take the medicine?”

“But, Dammy, it will make my EAR EXPLODE!”kayleigh-and-logan

I give up……

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Uptown Kitty

Suki’s departure day has finally arrived. I have been trying to get one of our daughters to take their kitty for years, and now that it’s happening, I have misgivings. Will she miss me too much? Will she get used to looking down at the busy Chicago streets 6 stories below, rather than watching the goings on of our suburban neighborhood through our front window? Suki has lived in our home for 12 years and this is the only home she’s ever known. When the girls were home, she was definitely their kitty, but for the last 4 years, I was the object of her affection. I’m fond of Suki, but both our mothers, one son-in-law, his mom, our daughter-in-law and maybe even our grandchildren are allergic to cats. When the odds started stacking against Suki staying in our home, Laura and Galen stepped up.

Laura and her husband Galen are “cat whisperers.” They will give her a good home, and she will now get to sit on their laps and lick their hands when they’re trying to type.  I’m looking forward to hearing that Suki (and Laura) survived the flight, and our “Uptown Kitty” is happily adjusting to her new digs.

Posted in Caretaker, Elderly, Hospice, Marriage, Sickness, Widow

Totally helpless

Yesterday marked 7 years since my father-in-law died. Seven years that we’ve been taking care of Mom. Usually, on December 22nd, we’ll sit with Mom and talk about Dad, then take her to the cemetery for a visit. Yesterday was very different though because Mark and I were desperately ill with the stomach flu. It all started on Sunday when the whole family was together for Baby Bea’s baptism and one of the little ones threw up. I was sure it was just from excitement, but by Thursday morning, all 4 of our children, their 3 spouses and 2 of the 3 little ones were either weak from, or right in the midst of, this terrible virus. We texted Dave to see if he could cover meals for Mom, only to find out that he was sick too. Three other people that I could usually call on in an emergency (2 friends from church and a neighbor) were all dealing with the same flu in their families.

In my stupor, all I could think of was “Visiting Angels” and with the help of Siri, I got someone on the phone. The woman I spoke with was very nice, and she really seemed to empathize with our plight, but she never called me back, after promising to do so. I know that we were asking a HUGE amount – to send someone over to a home dripping with Norovirus just days before Christmas, but if they couldn’t help us, they should have told us. I am now on a mission to find some local care-taking agencies and interview them before the next emergency happens.

How did we make it through that fateful day? Good question. At the appointed time, I got out of my sick bed, donned gloves and mask and hobbled 2 doors down to Mom’s house. I made her cream of wheat, tea and fruit, delivered it to her room, put “OnGuard” in the diffuser and told her the best way to show our love for her was to stay away from her. At dinner time I went through the same routine.

It was a terrible day to leave Mom all alone, but she understood. Next time we’ll be better prepared!

Posted in Caretaker, Elderly, Marriage, Uncategorized, Widow

…the little things…

makeup-clipartToday I helped my mom-in-law get showered and ready for tomorrow. Her dear Chuck’s birthday is tomorrow, and we’ll take Mom to the cemetery to put fresh flowers at his graveside. He had turned 85 just 2 months before he died, and that was almost 7 years ago. Today, after I helped Mom get into a fresh nightie and put her hair up in curlers, she asked me to help her “draw some eyebrows on.” There was a day when I would have tried to talk her out of it – after all, we weren’t going until tomorrow – but it seemed important to her, so I put my glasses on and made her look pretty. When I finished, she grabbed my hand, kissed it and held it to her cheek. Some things are worth doing, even when it seems unnecessary.