Popular kitchen bakeware
There's a pan for every baking purpose.
If you are planning a bridal shower, here is a great idea. Plan the shower refreshments around favorite recipes and ask each guest to bring her dish in a piece of bakeware the bride gets to keep. You are likely to find as the party goes on that you are not the only person who associates a favorite recipe with the cookware used to produce it.
In one family the connection between a favorite food and its container involves scalloped potatoes. The recipe varied from one generation to another: a little chopped ham, no ham, less onion or more onion. But what made the potatoes really taste good was your great grandmother's robins-egg-blue baking dish. Alone it sat proudly in the middle of the dining-room table. Wrapped in newspapers and a heavy towel it retained enough heat to enhance dinner picnics by the lake. Scalloped potatoes baked in any other pan were just plain scalloped potatoes.
Ask your party guests and get ready for the stories. It just wasn't Easter if you couldn't use the lamb-cake pan. Mama cried the year Papa went to Little Italy to pick out an Italian-made deep-sided pan to hold her lasagna. The bundt pan was the family birthday-cake pan, and the only decision to make was whether you wanted a chocolate or yellow cake. What made popular kitchen bakeware popular was its place in family celebrations and gatherings, not just the food it contained.
This is a tradition you can easily continue in your family—and you may already have. Get a bakeware dish out of your cupboard and see what your children say. Little ones know that cookies are coming when they see the baking sheets. Older children may know they'll be fighting over drumsticks when you get out the roast-chicken pan.
Your Special Traditions
One way to get started on your own tradition is to choose a new piece of bakeware that you always put to a special purpose. This can range from a ramekin in which you melt chocolate to an ornate bundt pan for birthday and holiday cakes. There's something very special about knowing that, on your special day, you can look forward to a cake that looks like a rose or a sunflower or even a castle. Much as older children and teens will say they don't care or that it's boring, there's a wonderful security to be found by children in statements that begin In our family, we always....
Several changes in the way Americans eat plus the enthusiasm of American cooks have greatly expanded cooking-equipment bakeware choices. One can now buy professional-quality pans and casserole dishes like heat-holding dishes that produce the results we used to see only in restaurants. Professional-quality equipment lasts longer, reduces hot-spot or cold-spot problems and cleans up better.
American curiosity about cuisines from all over the world means that equipment can be found to make almost anything from tandoori chicken to satay skewers or pizza to pate. As low-fat cooking becomes more popular, equipment follows with steamers and bakeware suited to braising. An increasing number of bakeware pans come with nonstick finishes, assuring delicious results that do not depend on added fats. Previously restricted mostly to skillets, nonstick finishes can now be found on roasting pans, cake and muffin pans, bread pans and broilers. Greatly improved, they resist cutting and scraping as never before and guarantee savings on dishwashing time.
The newest technology in popular kitchen bakeware is the use of silicon, not just to provide a nonstick finish but to create entire pans. Silicon pans are extremely lightweight and flexible. Flexibility means that silicon can be molded in a variety of intricate shapes for holiday and special-occasion baking. This new material helps with the easy removal of baked goods and a quick cleanup. Silicon pans are so flexible that they possess another unusual attribute. Pans can be rolled or folded for storage, which is a real gift to those with limited storage space or anyone who has bruised her knuckles trying to wiggle just the right pan out of a large and uncooperative stack.
In a hurry? Aren't we all. And all the more reason to stock your kitchen cupboards with cooking equipment that really meets your needs. The right equipment means the right results.
And who knows? The brownie pan, the lasagna pan and the roasting pan may be future heirlooms in the making with dishes filled first of all with warm family stories.