Book Review - A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life

                                                                                   Image:Marie Vonow
The title, A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life, intrigued me and I was compelled to open this book. Inside was a wealth of information relevant to the life of the modern woman. The thing that impressed me most was that the book is written from the experiences of a real woman trying to find balance in her life. Juanita Phillips is very honest and some of the things she said really hit home.

I could relate to some of the experiences and emotions expressed even though I am definitely not a television identity. I am very grateful to say I haven't experienced a 'very public collapse in front of half a million TV viewers', an experience the author had.

Juanita (I am going to refer to her by her first name because I feel she is a friend) starts by discussing how 'ridiculously busy' people are today.

In relation to the responsibilities of adults she says,
''s no longer enough to just do your job and look after your family. Popular culture dictates that we should also (in no particular order) have a beautiful home, exercise three times a week, meditate for 20 minutes a day, be up-to-date on news and current affairs, floss, download songs onto our iPods, raise funds for our children's schools, recycle, wear designer clothes, look after our ageing parents, get our teeth checked every six months, study for an MBA, schedule romantic 'dates' with our spouse, see the latest movies/bands/art exhibitions and – my personal favourite – drink two litres of water a day. (Have you ever tried that? You spend most of the day running to the loo – it's a part – time job!)

Juanita writes about trying to balance a baby, toddler, full time job and the rest of life which led to a breakdown on television. She and husband, Mario, recognised they had to make some big changes. She tells the story of discovering a pressure cooker in an op shop and how it helped her manage meals.

Juanita explains how to use a pressure cooker. She also includes numerous recipes for simple meals made with the pressure cooker. This approach is a change from some of the fancy recipes found in modern magazines.

In addition to all the information about how a pressure cooker can help the modern woman there are sections covering -
  • the history side of how we got to where we are today in regard to frantically trying to do too much and be everything to everyone
  • social change
  • how Juanita and husband, Mario, handled role reversal
  • some stories about role reversal from other real people
  • bits of history about managing housework
  • keeping things simple
  • ways to manage your time
  • decluttering
  • being organised
  • modern technology
  • quick housecleaning hints

The book is littered with handy tips. However, Juanita never says she has all the answers or that if you follow the suggestions you will become some kind of superwoman. It is more a realistic look at modern family life and ways of surviving and managing better.

Perhaps, just perhaps, I'll buy a pressure cooker. But what if I do but don't make much use of it, even after my friend, Juanita's praise of it? What if it just becomes another piece of clutter?


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