Thursday, 24 January 2008

Grown Up Saucepans

New saucepans. New saucepans! I have a history with saucepans. First share my pleasure in these lovely new pans.
Pretty, aren't they? They weren't my first choice. First choice was a set of absolutely beautiful cream enamel ones. I tried to buy these several months ago, but no one in the shop could tell me if they were dishwasher proof or not. When we went shopping again yesterday, the kitchenware assistant was actually working. She didn't know either, but was willing to disturb the beauty of the display to check the box. Turns out they are dishwasher proof, but had a teeny tiny little flaw - a big paragraph in the instructions leaflet "warning, do not turn heat up high under these pans as this will cause discolouration and damage the enamel". OK, so this is a beautiful set of cookware which cannot actually be used to do things like fry bacon or boil water or well anything other than gently reheat previously cooked soups and sauces. I know we call them saucepans but it seems a little excessive to me! Back to the drawing board, chaps. Who actually buys pans which can't be used to rapid boil or flash fry food?

Meanwhile I gave up the dream of cream enamel and had another hunt around the showroom. And came up with these.

So pretty! Heavy, heavy, heavy, beautifully thick bases, lovely domed glass lids with a handy steam escape hole thing, measurements inside the stainless steel ones so no more trying to measure out three pints of milk by pouring it in and out of old baby bottles (I will buy a measuring jug one day. One that doesn't break when used to measure boiling water).

You want my saucepan history? Alright then. My first set of pans belonged to my parents. When I moved out of their home they used it as an excuse to get rid of all their old grot by passing it on to me gifted me with the pots and pans Mum had cooked in for years, and upgraded their own cookware to something rather nicer. Over the next few years, this set moved with me from my home, to Yorkshire, down to Surrey, and then to Cambridgeshire, collecting dents and scrapes with every move. I lost a handle here, a lid there, but they still held food as I cooked it, they still did the job.

Then I got ill. I was very depressed for a while, there was a problem in switching antidepressants, and I got really depressed whilst that was happening. Eventually my doctors decided that I needed a proper break, signed me off work, and I went back home for a few weeks to rest and recover. When I returned to my own home (I had a live-in job at the time) feeling rested, more hopeful, on the road to recovery, I realised I had left without doing any washing up at all. For six weeks the saucepans had sat in my bedsit, growing new and interesting varieties of mould. Plates, cups, cutlery, saucepans, everything from the 'fridge, bedsheets and half my clothing and all my towels, out it all went. Big black binliners and into the skip.

A fresh start. But one on very little income. I went to Woolworths, and bought a set of just four place settings, four sets of cutlery, and a set of cheap pans. All new, all shiny, all blue, and all clean. I bought new bedding, new towels (also blue and white), new food, and started again.

After a few weeks I realised how much I loved my blue glass crockery, and stocked up on an extra two sets. They were extremely cheap. They are still doing sterling work, twelve years later. The saucepans however were very obviously extremely cheap, and the non-stick coating began to shed almost immediately. Over the next few years I gradually replaced them, a pan here for a birthday, a milkpan there for Christmas, a couple of new frying pans "just because".

Then I moved back to my home town to start fostering. My motley collection multiplied thanks to my aunt also deciding to upgrade her cooking equipment, and again thanks to my grandmother, who moved from her own home into a nursing home. All was well in Tia's Kitchen.

And then I discovered the internet. And burnt baked beans onto one pan so badly the pan warped. And burnt rhubarb so badly onto another pan it ate holes in the base. Neglected corned beef hash did for one of the frying pans, boiled rice finished off another pan. I was eventually left with a milk pan with a burnt handle, and a pressure cooker without a lid (still a very useful stock pot). It was only as I was packing for camping last summer that I realised I actually had a very nice set of camping saucepans. Lightweight, with nice copper bottoms and folding handles. When I came back from camp, I left the pans out, and have been using them ever since. A frustrating experience, as they burn any food left unstirred for more than thirty seconds, and since the handles are designed to be used over a Trangia or Bluet, not on a standard hob.

Still, I decided I could hold on for a while. Replacing my pans was what I wanted to do when the kitchen was finished, to celebrate the day Bob moved on and my house became my own again. Don't get excited; he hasn't actually done that yet. My garden is still unfinished, my sunroom still full of lethal tools, but I realised that one of the reasons I was annoyed with him, was that I was getting fed up of trying to cook with my camping pans. I can't force him to return and finish. But I can at least get rid of one source of irritation.

So here are my new pans. Still shiny, still pretty, still unused.
Trouble is, I can't decide what to cook in them first. Suggestions, anyone?


Tina said...

OOOH Lovely posh new pans.
We had peoples cast offs for years, they made useful colourful additions to our kitchen. I thought you were supposed to boil rhubarb in a saucepan that had burnt on food, the acid in the rhubarb is supposed to clean the pan...not sure if you are supposed to then eat the rhubarb but I dont think the rhubarb is supposed to eat the pan???
I think your new saucepans are crying out for some gasrtonomic delight to come puring from their depths....spghetti bolognaise? Roast dinner with umpteen veggies and some nice creamy sauces?
Shall I bring my cook books? I collect them so have a fair few!


akconklin said...

They are truly beautiful! May your first meal be wonderful!


Teacherperson said...

Alesha must be a dear. She faithfully reads my blog and when she comments, it's always encouraging. Now, she's sent me an English friend!

Is the Italian salad dressing oil and vinegar based? We've only been able to find cream ones. Thanks for the heads-up about the chips. Things were rather overwhelming in the store with sugar in one spot, flour in another, etc. My son just bought a big chocolate bar and cut it up.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tia said...


Give it a few weeks and by the time you go home you'll be so used to Tesco you'll find nothing in Walmart! My parents took a sabbatical when I was a child, and we moved to CA for a year. I do remember that "same but different" sense of dislocation.


Anonymous said...

I have that exact same set of pans too and they are a joy to use and easy to clean. (got them in the sale from Woolworth's) I use them for just about everything, doing pasta, sauces, veg, stews, soups, curries, etc. Hope you get good use out of them.

Kind regards from Tony


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