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Short ribs

Cooked in a broiler or a skillet, have faith these ribs will be delicious. 

I’m not a New Year resolution maker, but about three weeks ago I decided I needed to change the way I’ve been feeling – anxious and fearful. The past couple of years have been so stressful they caused me not only to worry about almost everything but to also be afraid of what might happen next. I became a serious worrywart.

I decided on a lark to sit down with one of my I Ching books. The I Ching, also known as the Book of Changes, is an ancient book of Chinese origin, a collection of practical wisdom pertaining to every situation. The I Ching is the epitome of Chinese philosophy, founded on Taoist understandings and modified with Confucian logic.

I tossed my Chinese coins, asked what I could do to calm my fears and turned to the corresponding page in the I Ching. This was my answer: “Good Faith. Celebration. Auspicious. Centered and true. Put Faith in genuine ability and success is sure. This is joy.”

Faith seemed to be the key word.

And so for the past three weeks I’ve made a habit of reminding myself that I need to have faith that the world isn’t going to blow up, my train isn’t going to derail and there isn’t a car accident waiting for me at every corner.

Having faith brings cheer and a sense of certainty to hope. I have faith we will finish restoring the buildings and revitalizing the whole of China Alley. I have faith Hanford’s downtown core will become again as vibrant and rich in the spirit of community as it once was. Rather than fearing grim alternatives I affirm my faith in these matter as I go about my daily activities, sometimes quite seriously, other times casually or even playfully. I don’t want to be serious all the time any more than I want to be fretful.

And so, at home, here in my kitchen, I have faith I will no longer be afraid of my Instant Pot cookers. During the past two years I acquired two of these electric pressure cookers, one I’ve used once, the other is still in its box. It’s not that I am anti-food appliances. I use my rice cooker, food processor and egg steamer all of the time and often have three or four slow cookers going at the same time. But the Instant Pot has been a pot of a different color entirely.

I think it’s partly the name. Pressure cooker. It sounds dangerous. It also reminds me of the hectic, off our rhythm, out of control nights in the Imperial Dynasty kitchen when the very kitchen itself was a pressure cooker.

Mom tells me Dad made a few of his dishes with a stovetop pressure cooker, but that it always frightened her. I don’t remember watching Dad cook with a pressure cooker, perhaps if I had, I wouldn’t be so scared of one now. The one time I used my Instant Pot, I made dinner for my parents. Dad was kind of nonchalant about the process but Mom kept a close watch when I pushed buttons and especially when the time came to release the pressure valve. I think both of us were afraid I was going to create a new skylight in the ceiling. The instructions – release the pressure valve – were terrifying then.

But now I’m ready to play. I have faith my pressure cooker and I will become friends with your help. Do any of you have advice and/or recipes for an Instant Pot? I want to know what you love about your pressure cookers. I look forward to your responses, dear readers!

As I practice faith over fear, I remind myself of things I have always trusted and how well that trust has been repaid. One of those things is cooking recipes from Dad’s repertoire. While I’m experimenting and risking new culinary adventures with Mr. Instant Pot, I’ll continue to make tried-and-true dishes as well. This week I’m sharing a recipe for Dad’s flanken short ribs. Dad used the broiler to cook them, but sometimes I pan fry the ribs in my cast iron skillet. Both have nummy results. I have total faith in this as in so many things having to do with Dad.

Arianne Wing is the co-author of “Noodles Through Escargots,” and co-owner of the L.T. Sue Tea Room and Emporium, benefiting the restoration and preservation of China Alley. She may be reached at

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