Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Which Comes First, the Omelette Pan or the Chicken Coop?

I've been thinking lately that I wish I knew when my children would start to like spicy food.  Then, you know, I could mentally prepare myself for how long I will have to keep things bland for them.  Poor little children, with their super sensitive taste buds that have not been burned out by a lifetime of Thai food and Tex-Mex...  You can see the horror on their faces when they do get a bite of something too spicy for them. When will that go away and be replaced by the enjoyment of it?  And why do we enjoy spicy food, now that I think about it?  It's one of those pain/pleasure things, I guess.  Similarly, I wish I knew when my children will be able to eat a meal without such a huge percentage of it ending up on the floor.  Violet is, of course, the worst offender, but really Grace is not super neat yet either.  I never noticed this at all until our dear Abbey started to get sick in the last year of her life and quit cleaning up after them; now, sadly, it is my job.  I can last just a couple of days without having to vacuum our dining room rug, at which point I can identify at least 6 to 8 different kinds of food.  Kids! They're messy!

So college football season is drawing to a close and the big college rivalry here in Utah is between the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. It is a rivalry rather similar to Texas', where in an SAT-style analogy Utah would be to the University of Texas (liberal, big state university, in a bigger city, etc) as BYU is to Texas A&M (conservative, small town, etc). Probably some fellow Aggie is going to be mad that I just compared us to a Mormon school but IT'S TOTALLY TRUE. We used to joke that A&M was the biggest Christian college in the country. Anyway, BYU's colors are blue and white and their logo is often a big collegiate-font "Y"; if you are a friend of ours from Connecticut, this may sound quite familiar to you as it is very, very similar to what Yale uses. Rob has some T-shirts and a fleece and whatnot from the Yale pediatrics department and he has gotten some funny looks and doubletakes from people when wearing them, especially if he is holding a drink or at church or something.

I've been doing away with the nonstick cookware in our kitchen over the past couple of years.  I try not to be a health/environmental crazy crackpot person but I find the evidence for the dangers of nonstick cookware pretty convincing.  I heard the guys who wrote Slow Death by Rubber Duck talking on NPR a while back and it finally motivated me to find a different way to cook stuff.  I haven't thrown all my nonstick stuff out, but the pieces of cookware that I use the most now are my Le Creuset Dutch oven (expensive but so worth it for me; I use it ALL THE FRACKING TIME) and my cast iron skillets.  I have a little 8" skillet that I have no idea where it came from (I think Robert had it before we were married and I scrubbed off all the rust and seasoned it and whatnot to get it back in working condition; I have a vague memory of it being from one of his grandmothers?) and then last Christmas my sister gave me this nice 12" one.  Cast iron is so nice to cook in; it is so heavy and has so much mass that you can get it blisteringly hot and I love the way it evenly moves heat into food.  When it's well-seasoned it has a naturally nonstick surface that works for pretty much everything for me and it washes very nicely.  I do not follow the thinking that you can't use soap on your cast iron; I wash it by hand with my regular dish soap, then pop it back on the stove to get warm enough to make sure all the water is evaporated (you do have to take steps to keep cast iron from rusting), then rub a tiny bit of oil on it with a paper towel while it is warm to keep it well-seasoned.  I've done it this way for years with my 8" skillet and for one year on my big skillet and they are in great shape and this is working great for me except when it comes to eggs.

Oh, eggs, you are so darned sticky...  I can't seem to do anything to my cast iron to be able to scramble eggs in them without ending up with an awful stuck-on mess at the end.  I have a little nonstick pan that's good for a single serving of eggs but I'm not sure I want buy a bigger nonstick pan to do eggs for a whole family breakfast, given the aforementioned issues.  On the other hand, you don't cook eggs at very high heat (which is where nonstick is really bad for you) and this thread is making me think I should buy something nonstick really cheap at IKEA and just use it for eggs only, thinking any bad chemical exposure will be pretty minimal.  Or maybe enameled cast iron or enameled steel is the way to go?  I am full of uncertainty...  I need to figure this out, though, to prepare for when I convince Rob to get our backyard chickens.  Chickens!  Hooray!


amydove said...

Homegoods/Marshalls often has Le Creuset stuff for a great price. You should check them out. I have the same eggs problem as well - when I go to my mom's house she doesn't have non-stick pans and my eggs make a disgusting mess. My mom claims that if you coat the pan in butter or oil first the eggs won't stick, but I haven't tried that. (What's the point of being healthy and eating eggs if you are going to add tons of butter? You might as well have doughnuts!)

Carlie said...

I dunno. I wish I knew that answer to cooking eggs neatly. I have the same problem since I own no non-stick cookware. This is a great question for Metafilter!!!

Eva said...

I am about to pack and take my wonderful collection of German steel pots and pans, but I have to confess that I am kind of addicted to the one non-stick pan that I own. I really should try to substitute it more often than I do.

I believe that in order to get decent eggs you have to pick your poison between the non-stick pan and lots of oil.

Oh, and I am bracing myself for the soon to come moment when Leah starts eating solids. We will all become very colorful I'm sure.