Dinner in an Instant

Dinner was going to be late again. The dream of perfect 10 minute enchiladas, sizzling and gooey and crunchy, was only a dream. Much like the other late meals I had been making.

"Layers" by Robert Couse-Baker. Flickr, CC-By-2.0
“Layers” by Robert Couse-Baker. Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Hoping to improve our weeknight cooking game, my wife and I had picked up an Instant Pot.

We were still learning how to use it. Instant, apparently, isn’t as instant as we expected. Most recipes (especially the good ones) are still multiple steps. Our kids are still in our hair.

Everyone’s tired after a day of work and school, you know? So the dream of Instant was hard to pass up.

It was in this hectic setting when I explained to my wife how to set it and forget it.

“Hit the button for the setting you want, adjust the cooking time here, close the vent, and it’s ready to go! When it beeps, it’s done. Open the vent to release the pressure.”

That’s (about) what I said, and it’s not exactly wrong. But a pressure cooker takes time to build up pressure and temperature. Then it cooks. Then it’s done. It also happens to beep a lot during those stages.


I’ve been reading Verbal Judo for PRL. One of the ideas that stands out to me is that it’s the speaker’s job to ensure they’ve communicated clearly. The listener, who often isn’t listening at all, is bringing all sorts of preconceived ideas into the conversation. The speaker must use different tactics to ensure the listener understands the message.

That evening, the pressure cooker was opened early, at the first beep. There was no way the cooking time had passed at that first beep. Throughout the following cooking stage, the vent was open, releasing all of the pressure.

“I didn’t know that’s how it worked!” she said, frustrated.

My listener hadn’t understood my message.

“I have to work on my communication skills,” I replied.

Dinner was excellent.

In related news about persuasion and people skills drawing (some) people together (and repelling others), Scott Adams’ new book, Win Bigly, is released this week.

Scott writes about Trump’s methods of persuasion, used to destroy his Republican competitors and eventually win the 2016 presidential election. Here’s Adams on MSNBC. Here’s Politico’s article trashing the book. Don’t you want a copy? Mine is already bedside and dog-eared!

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