Saturday, February 12, 2005

Kitchen capers

Don't let any recent informative or thoughtful blog entries fool you. Since getting the Wolf stove two weeks ago, most of what I've been doing outside of work hours is playing in the kitchen.

New cookware. I tossed out several pots and pans that were so dented they rattled on the stovetop. And got rid of a warped 15" pizza pan. Then I went to Craig's List to troll for a deal on the pots and pans endorsed by the Cook's Illustrated testing kitchen: All-Clad stainless steel. My timing was good: I hooked up with a guy who had gotten a set of All-Clad as some kind of sales incentive at his job, and we met in the parking lot of the Ballard QFC Wednesday to exchange cash for cookware. The set has four pieces: a little 1-quart pan, a 10-inch frying pan, a 4-quart saucier (looks like a bowl with a handle) with cover, and a 6-quart saute pan. The 6-quart is so ridiculously immense (you could put three big roasting chickens in it) that I immediately listed it for sale on eBay. This morning I cooked a cheese omelette in the 10-inch frying pan. I expected it to cook up quickly, evenly, and heat through nicely, but the big surprise was that it didn't stick to the pan. It moved around when I shook the pan, and let me fold it over with no problem. I was entranced. Fortunately, Cook's Illustrated endorses basic Pyrex as the best ovenware, so there are no expensive purchases required for baking. Tonight I brought my 30-year-old wok up from the pantry, removed some gunk, and made moo goo gai pan, complete with fresh water chestnuts (from the Ballard Market) and velveted chicken. Zorg, who is suffering from a cold and couldn't taste a thing, commented on the nice texture of the chicken. Which is exactly the point of velveting.

New ingredients. Five-year-old beignet mixes? Yech. I cleaned out the pantry, tossing out rancid grains, flour and mixes that had followed me over from the old house, some four years ago. Then went out and bought barley and bulghur wheat.

Sharp knives. Our knives, a varied assortment of mid-range items from cook shops and yard sales, were duller than the Lawrence Welk Show. Some months back, I'd been at the dry cleaners and noticed a mobile knife-sharpening service working on the tailor's shears. I found their card, called them up, and they came over during the week and sharpened four knives, a cleaver, three pairs of scissors, the garden loppers and two pairs of garden pruners, all for $35. Snip! Slash! Swoosh!

New recipes. Back in the days when we had the O'Keefe and Merritt stove, I had been developing a FileMaker Pro database of recipes. I'm working on it again, and hope to have a Shady Rest West Cookbook ready by the holidays. This is just too much fun!

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