I had promised my students that we would have some of my awesome cider one day. They really worked hard this week, having their first big test, so yesterday I cooked up some cider with cinnamon sticks and sliced oranges. On the board where I list the activities of the day I drew a cup with steam coming out of it. Some student drew a Macintosh apple on the cup.
“Why are there dictionaries on top of the crock pot?”
“She’s making smart juice.”
“I could have used some of that before the test. ”
“No, really. Why are there all those dictionaries on top of the crock pot?”
I answered them that a long time ago I saw a documentary on TV where some indigenous group of people in Africa were cooking. There was a hole in the ground at the bottom of which were hot coals. A pot was placed in the hole and its lid covered with rocks. The voice over said that it was a simple way to make a pressure cooker. The heavier and more numerous the rocks, the faster the food inside the pot would cook. I was intrigued with the idea and had a heavy broken brick (from an old stack and board bookshelf) that I began to use in my kitchen (and have now used on the tops of pots on the stove for over 40 years) to do the same (see The Cooking Rock).
To make sure that the hot cider was as delicious as it could be, I told them, the dictionaries made the crock pot into a kind of pressure cooker, extracting the flavors from the cinnamon and oranges to maximum effect. After dethroning the dictionaries and sampling the cider, the kids totally agreed that cider under pressure was the best. And they said they felt smarter too.