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The Comfort of Collecting Pots, Pans and Plates

Suzanne Pollak

My very first collection was a set of Georg Jenson copper pots lined with silver. My grandfather hinted that he would give me a car when I turned nineteen, but since I was newly arrived from Africa, I did not have a license and couldn't care less about a car. My interests then are the same as now: Domestic Pursuits. So I found an antique set of china in a Savannah, Georgia shop, and a gorgeous set of copper pots in New York City that I longed for. My grandfather kindly gifted me those instead.

This decision was wise. The china and pots are like old friends, making my kitchen and dining table beautiful, and lasting as long as my marriage has, almost 1,000 years. Recently I bequeathed the china to my daughter-in-love and eldest son, and my silver-lined copper pots to my second son whose interest in cooking has skyrocketed, enough that he shoud be the He Dean of the Charleston Academy. No doubt copper is expensive and needs to be relined, but these pots will be passed on to my great-grandchildren, of that I am sure. And that car that might have been? Scrap metal by now. 

Since I decided to pass on my pots and plates, I have replaced the copper pots with my new love, cast iron skillets from Lodge Valley. These pans have a manly appeal; jet black, with a rough surface and require strength to pick up. The way cast iron sears steaks, sautes fish, cooks vegetables is, in a word, perfect. My affair has begun.

Now for the answers to a few FAQs about care. Cast Iron? Hey, relax. It's okay to wash with dish soap. Then place on low heat to dry, and while hot melt a little coconut oil in pan and then wipe with a paper towel. Done. Two minutes. Copper? Bar Keepers Friend is your friend. Shiny brilliant copper pots takes five seconds if you wash and dry immediately after using. A salt paste, rubbing lemon halves on copper...these tricks may work, but Bar Keepers is quicker, and lasts longer.

Take it from the Dean, who has kept her collection in pristine condition for decades. You are welcome Charles Pollak!