November 23, 2013 at 1:00 am

Maureen Tisdale

Let's Talk Food (& maybe win a cookbook): Pressure & 'Pressure Cooker Perfection'

I don’t think I’m going to blink until Monday; my head is spinning trying to figure out how to get from now to then, when my husband, 17-month-old and I take off to meet up with other Tisdales in Maine for Thanksgiving.

Which is why “Pressure Cooker Perfection” seems like the ideal book to give away this week; I doubt the pressure will lift until the house is safely in the housesitter’s hands and our car is packed to the gills and pointed east.

Once we’re in Maine with my family, there will be hilarity, board games, trying to keep track of little ones and other good times (plus the usual family tensions and stresses — as my sister Mavi said during a call recently, “You know, where we all tell someone who we’re upset with, just not the actual person themselves.” Ha!).

There also will be a whole lotta cooking.

We’ve split up the Big Meal handily. I’m doing the rutabaga (which for some reason we grew up calling turnips), the Colombian salad (oh, I’ll tell you about that sometime) and the apple pie I got sucked into when Mom cheerfully signed up to do it “with Reen,” as it was my husband’s request, pie-wise (others include banana cream, pecan, sweet potato and more ... we’re going to have about a pie per person, methinks).

Anyway, those three dishes don’t amount to an unreasonable amount of pressure. It’s where I take it from there that I make myself nuts. In addition to my contributions to the Big Meal, I’m responsible for one other meal — for which I’m making two slow-cooker dishes because my spinning mind couldn’t land on one. And then, I just have to bring the latest attempt at a breakfast bar for my husband, a batch of Aunt Bev’s Pillsbury Bake-Off contender On the Go Breakfast Cookies and even a few Bad Muffins for no good reason other than wanting to see if my family likes them (if I can talk anyone into trying these foods among the glut of options). Plus I want to make some slow-cooker steel-cut oats I’ve been playing with to see what Mom, Tiff and Mavi think.

Tiff, our shopping coordinator extraordinaire, will get the ingredients for my T-day and group meal responsibilities, along with everyone else’s (we split the bill). For the rest, I’m hauling bunches of foodstuffs — including road trip meals for my husband, son and me, plus several servings of my favorite breakfast to stave off being tempted by whatever delights Bill comes up with — through Canada to the chilly state of my childhood, where I’ll wring my hands hoping everyone loves what I make (and that I’ll have time to actually cook ... um, why is my son congested? Is this going to be reminiscent of last year, when we “hosted” but I was barely present due to a sick baby ?? Aaah!!!).

I bet I’m not the only one feeling some holiday pressure, self-imposed or not. “Pressure Cooker Perfection” is not only apropos, it looks like a really good book. It’s by America’s Test Kitchen which, Kate wrote recently when she featured a Magic Chocolate Flan Cake recipe published by them, she trusts because of their research. The subtitle is “100 Foolproof Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook,” and it’s both a handbook and a cookbook, full of both recipes and tips.

The reasons the book cover gives to use a pressure cooker — food cooks quickly, flavors are supercharged, modern models are safe, one-pot meals are easy, and it will keep the kitchen cool — almost talked me into getting one myself. I’ve been interested in them since we ran a recipe on making dulce de leche with a pressure cooker, but we have too many gadgets as it is.

If you’re interested in winning “Pressure Cooker Perfection,” send an email to Eats& with “Cookbook/Pressure” in the subject line. Include your name and mailing address in the body. Enter only once by midnight Dec. 1 (same deadline as last week’s family dinner cookbooks giveaway). A winner will be chosen at random from among entries. (If it’s Dec. 2, 2013, or later when you read this, the cookbooks will have been given away — but thanks for stopping by.)

Meanwhile, you won’t hear from me much until sometime the week after the holiday, since I’m going off the grid once the holiday week starts. But a happy, HAPPY Thanksgiving to you!