Saturday, August 31, 2013

Bringin' the Sexy to the Kichen - Orange Jicama Chicken

Recently I did an exposé on the Electromatic Skillet and Table Range.  While information is all well and good, there is something to be said for practical application of said information...  Meaning, ya gotta cook somethin' in it.....

But first, some totally gratuitous shots of my Electromatic Skillet and Trefoil ensemble.

Turn to the left.....

Now turn to the right......

I must say, that is some seriously sexy retro-chic right there.  Eat your heart out Mad Men.

OK, enough of that...  I'm hungry....

Orange Jicama Chicken

 (with Snow Peas)

24 oz Chicken Breast (or Thighs), cut into 1 inch pieces
10 oz (2 cups) Jicama, peeled and cubed (about 1 medium Jicama)
6 - 8 oz Snow Peas
3 TB Tamari (low Sodium)
2 tsp Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Orange Zest
4 oz Orange Juice
2 TB Olive Oil
Rice for Serving
optional - Cashews for Serving

P-12-ES or E-1310 Electromatic Skillet/Table Range (Base and P-22-B "2 1/2 quart" Skillet)

Cut the chicken into 1 inch pieces, then set aside.

Peel and cube the Jicama, and set aside. (make sure when peeling to remove the yellowish fiber layer right below the skin)


Remove the tips and strings from the Snow Peas, and set aside.

Whisk the Tamari, Cornstarch, Orange Zest and Orange Juice together in a small Pyrex pitcher, and set aside.

Set your Electromatic Skillet to 350F Degrees and add 1 TB Light Olive Oil.


When hot, add the Jicama and the Snow Peas; Stir frying for 1 minute.

Remove from the Skillet and set aside.

Add 1 TB Light Olive Oil to the skillet.

When hot, add 1/2 of the Chicken pieces and saute for 2 1/2 minutes.

Remove the first batch of chicken and set aside.

Saute the remaining chicken for 2 1/2 minutes.

Add the reserved Chicken back to the skillet and heat through.

Slowly stir in the Orange Juice/Tamari mixture.

Reduce the temperature to 300F degrees and cook, stir until thickened and bubbly. (3-5 minutes)


Add the reserved Jicama and Snow Peas, stirring to combine.

Cover and cook for 1 minutes longer; just until the vegetables heat through.

Serve over Rice with a sprinkling of Cashews, if desired.

Where is your Corningware??
~~

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Consulting Conpendeums and Codecies - Information on Collecting Corning Pyroceram

Collecting Corning Ware is kind of a misnomer.  Though I often say it myself, in essence what I really do is more of a "rescue" than actual collecting.  That being said, I kind of collect the Wheat pattern, but then again, not really, cause I use it.  (though not as much as my Cornflower and my French White)  What is it that really constitutes "collecting" and a "collection"?  Is it some invisible line that is crossed?  What makes something a collectable?  Does it hinge upon it's value?  Is it tied to demand?  If there is only 1 of something, but no one really cares about it or desires to have it, then is it worth anything?

Perspective:  Gold is only valuable because it is a rare metal and people desire to have it.  Iridium is significantly rarer than gold, yet worth about 3/4 as much due to the lack of demand for it.  

Collecting, by definition, simply means "to bring together in a group or mass" or "to accumulate as a hobby or for study", which kind of fits, since I bring pieces together into a mass that fills every nook and cranny of my kitchen.  It has become a hobby, of sorts, since I hit every single thrift store that I see.  (which drives everyone I know absolutely bonkers)  There is also some element of "study" involved, as I try to track down a pattern or figure out dates and contemplate mystery pieces.  But I still don't really like to call it a collection or what I am doing collecting.

What makes a "collectable", well, collectable?  I think of "collectables" as being things that are placed on a shelf together to be observed and admired, but not ever touched.  Hummel figures are an excellent example.  Another would be my mother's English Bone China Tea Cups.  Granted, she has some cups that she does use fairly frequently, but most of them sit on little mahogany cup shelves to be admired from a distance.  This is because they are either extremely old (pre-1900), extremely rare or just extremely valuable.  That is a lot of extreme-lies.

In the case of Corning Ware, it is neither particularly old, particularly rare, nor is it particularly valuable.  That's a lot of particularities.  There are many sellers on eBay who would love all of us who are interested in amassing pieces, for cooking purposes, to believe that it IS a rarity and thus worth the small fortune they keep asking for their pieces.  But in actuality, it's really just not that valuable.  Sorry eBay sellers.  I can walk into a thrift store and buy that 2 quart (A-2-B) saucepan for 3 bucks and a lid for .99 cents, so I am not going to pay you $34.99 and $12.00 to ship.  Not gonna happen my friend, so get over it.

Now that I have totally slammed 90% of the Corning Ware sellers on eBay, that is not to say that some of the patterns aren't rare.  BUT, most of the "rare" patterns are the later ones through the mid to late 90's.  Consequently, though there weren't as many pieces made, they are only about 20 years old tops; most are significantly younger.  That really doesn't move Corning Ware into a "collectable" status, nor into "collectable" prices.  I'm just sayin'.

That is why I like this first book in particular.  It notes, at the very beginning of the book, that Corning Ware is really not old enough nor rare enough to warrant being considered an actual "Collectable"; at least, not yet.

I had distinct pleasure of meeting Debbie and Randy at the Portland Antiques Expo in 2010.  They were fascinating to talk to and their booth was overflowing with Pyrex and Corning Ware.  I will say that Pyrex opal glass is kind of a phenomenon... There were SO many casserole and mixing bowl patterns that were released and then discontinued almost immediately that it has created a collecting frenzy.  Personally, I love Opal Pyrex.

but back to Corning Ware.....

It was from Debbie and Randy that I learned about the book they had released back in 2008, attempting to document the patterns of Corning Ware. (Cause inquiring minds want to know) Randy and Debbie have also written multiple books on other types of collectable glass such as Heisey and Fenton elegant glass.  Both of which, though from the same era, are not the same as Depression glass (they wrote a book about that too)

My only issue with the book, is not really an issue per-se.  There is just no possible way that ANY book on a product like Corning Ware is going to be able to get everything in it.  There are too many weird test market pieces, strange patterns and promo items that really and truly are a rarity and actually HARD to find as well as being poorly documented on Corning's part.  This was why I was so perplexed about my 1 pint Saucemaker; for it isn't mentioned in either book that I own, but it can be found on the Corning Museum of Glass site a the P-5 - with a lot of masking tape.  There are several patterns missing from the book such as Autumn Meadow, American Oil, Pink Trio, Farm Fresh and Peach Garland.  While Classic Black and French White are in there, including the blue and gold trim, there is no mention of French Bleu or French Bisque.  They did get the Casual Elegance line into the book though, which even I tend to forget about, but "French White II?" is missing as well. (That's another post)

Which brings me to book #2 by Kyle Coroneos (2005)

This book is slightly older, and doesn't deal with pattern dating as much as it does with the actual pieces that were produced.  Being shapes, sizes and materials, (i.e. the switch from Pyroceram lid to clear borosilicate lid to tempered lime glass lid) as well as covering Visions cookware to some extent. (which the previous book does not)

Both offer prices for pieces, but both are pre-recession, so take the pricing with a grain of salt.  Honestly, I think most of them should be dropped by about 25-30%.  But, that is just my opinion.

There are also two web sites that I enjoy consulting immensely and have learned many things from both. 

BlueCornflower.com is a study of all things of the Cornflower persuasion, both P series and A series pieces.  There is also a section for all those Spice o' Life lovers out there as well as a section on Microwave Browner/Crispers.  Don't ever fear getting lost among the pages though, for either Hamlette, Spamlette, Porkchop & Petunia or Piglet will be there to guide you through the site. 

The second site I enjoy visiting, and the one that tuned me into the existence of Centura Cornflower, is CorelleCorner.com.  Though primarily a site for Corelle lovers, due to the crossover of several patterns between Corelle, Corning Ware and even Centura, there is some fascinating information on these as well as some Pyrex and Suprema products.  All meticulously compiled from brochures and corporate materials.  This site truly rocks.

Sadly, Corelle Corner is no longer alive and well on the net.   

So with 2 books and several sites, including Corningware411, dedicated to items of the Corning Ware persuasion, does that make it a collectable?  Do you consider Corning Ware to be an actual "collectable"?  Do you consider yourself a collector of Corning Ware?  Do you use what you collect, or is it merely for decorative display with your vintage kitchen theme?  Do you collect more than 1 pattern?  (I do this myself)  Is this really all just open to interpretation? 

Where is your Corning Ware (collection) ??
~~

Monday, August 26, 2013

Cornflowers Here, Cornflowers There, Cornflowers Cornflowers EVERYWHERE!

I still find it quite laughable that, even though I detest the color blue, I have developed such a love for Cornflower.  Wheat and French White are still my all time favorites, but there is just something about that little blue cornflower.  It's not like normal blues.  I guess one can be a walking paradox if one wishes.

I don't like Navy blue cause it depresses me...  I don't like Cobalt blue because it just makes me feel nauseated.  Royal blue & electric blue are just so insidiously in your face, that is annoys me.  I don't like Robin's egg blue, because it feels cold and uncomfortable to me, as does most pale or light blues.  Neon blue (an 80's fashion don't) never should have existed in the first place. Sky blue is OK, but it belongs outside, on the sky, not in my house.  Mom's house use to be "dusty" blue ALL over the place in the 80's.  Blue carpet, blue paint, blue wallpaper in the dining room, blue dishes, blue table cloth, blue sofa, blue chairs, blue dish towels, blue curtains, blue background pictures, right down to the Christmas ornaments.... Blue Blue Blue Blue Blue Blue!!!!     The inside of her Ford Escort Wagon was even Blue!   ARGH!

I use to hide in my blessedly calm and soothing BROWN bedroom ALL the time to keep from being assaulted by BLUE!   I am just an earth tone kind of guy.  Give me olive green, dark eggplant purple, rich deep orange, dark golds and browns. (which is why I love the Wheat pattern so much)

But as I stated, there is just something about that little blue cornflower.  It's a happy blue, it's a classy blue, and placed, as it is, upon a white background, it's a crisp and clean blue.  It's a bright and eye catching, yet comforting blue.  Maybe it's because I associate that little blue cornflower with delicious things coming from my Mom and Grandmother's kitchens. 

All I know, is that THIS is the only blue for me.....

And now it graces my dinner table, for I have found a couple of the Centura dinner plates to match the smaller ones I recently found at the Salvation Army store.

As luck would have it, though they are not part of the original dinner service, I found a couple of coffee mugs too.

These mugs were released decades later than the Centura dinnerware.  They are made out of, what I believe to be, Suprema, which completely supplanted Centura by the fact that it was microwave compatible.  Besides, the original place cups (with saucers) were of a similar "coupe" shape to match the dinnerware and did not have a cornflower on them, they were simply white.  (though the bowls, which I have yet to find, were solid blue)

So I just thought I would share an almost complete Blue Cornflower place setting.

It may not be actual Corningware, but all the pieces are some form of pyroceram, though both are glazed.  (Yep, Suprema has to be glazed too)

Where is your Corningware??
~~

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The A-B-Cs of Pilaf (Almonds, Bulgar & Cornflower) - Bulgar & Mushroom Pilaf

I figured it was about time that I dispense with talking about the pieces I have found or tragic demises involving transportation of said pieces of said found-ness and start to concentrate on the actual USE of said found pieces.  After all, what's the use in collecting Corningware and rescuing it from the clutches of a landfill if it's just going to sit around and collect dust.  Vintage Corningware should be allowed to fulfill it's culinary destiny or it could get depressed.  Granted, I am anthropomorphizing it a little bit.  But I am sure that if Corningware did have feelings, it would be really upset to simply be ensconced on a shelf somewhere.

So Tuesday evening, I decided to roast a chicken... Which, in all honesty, I don't do as much as I probably should.  It's a fairly healthy way to go, as far as a main dish.  Especially with my rack and roaster, so all the fat can simply drip away (and be saved for unctuous gravy at a later date).

Roasting is pretty straight forward.  I find that the wing tips often burn, so I put the chicken in a yoga pose, with the tips of the wings behind it's back, then set the chicken on the rack, breast side up.

Season with salt and cracked pepper and place in a preheated 400F (200C) degree oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375 (190C) and continue roasting for about 20 minutes per pound, minus 1lb.  (i.e. 5 lb chicken...  15 minutes on 400 then 1 hour 20 minutes on 375 for the remaining 4 lbs)  Then again, if you have a temperature probe, simply roast until the inner thigh reaches 165F (75C) degrees.

Either way, a roasted chicken is a beautiful thing to behold.  Especially when it is resting languidly in a Corningware P-21 Roaster.  I'm just sayin'.

So what do you have with said roasted chicken?  Well, it's time to take a walk on the Mediterranean-ish side.   Bulgar Pilaf.  True, when thinking of Pilaf most people think of rice, and that is the typical rendition.  But me being me, I like to change things up a little every once in awhile.  Not to mention that I get "riced" out simply because I make Risotto ALL the time.  Thus, Bulgar Pilaf fits the bill quite nicely. 

So what exactly IS Pilaf... Well, all I can really tell ya is that it is fairly common in the Balkans & Southeastern Asia where it is known by many names such as pilav, pulaw, pulao, polow, or plov.  It is basically the same thing as a Risotto, though the type of rice is different and there is NO stirring involved.  On some level, I feel this makes it easier to execute that Risotto, and just about as tasty.  It really depends on how you like your rice.  Fluffy individual grains?  Go with Pilaf.  Swimming in an unctuous sauce?  Go with Risotto.  Oh, and as far as I am concerned, Pilaf just isn't Pilaf without some type of nut being added.  For me, that usually means slivered Almonds or Pistachio.

Technically, Pilaf should be cooked completely on the stove and not be baked in the oven.  But since I use Corningware to make Pilaf, I utilized the oven, mainly because I can.  There is another reason for baking pilaf in the oven, though.  If the Pilaf is out of sight, then it's out of mind.  This can be a good thing if you are a chronic sneaker peeker like I am, cause the secret to good Pilaf, whether with Rice or Bulgar is DO NOT lift that lid!!  


Bulgar Pilaf with Mushrooms


2 cups Chicken Stock, warmed
2 TB unsalted Butter
2 ribs Celery, diced
1/2 a medium Onion, diced
4 oz Crimini Mushrooms, sliced thin
1 1/2 cups Bulgar Wheat
Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon
3 TB Parsley, chopped fine
1/2 - 3/4 cup Slivered Almonds, toasted
P-10-B with Lid (or older 10 inch skillet with Pyroceram lid, or A-10-B)
1 quart Saucemaker (P-55 or P-64 or, if you have one, the small 1 pint Saucemaker)

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) degrees and get your mise en plas in place.  :)

Begin warming the chicken stock in your Saucemaker set over medium flame.

Yes, I am using my mysterious 1 Pint one.

Place the 10 inch skillet over medium-low flame as well and begin melting the Butter.

Once the butter is melted, add the Celery and Onion, sweating until almost tender.

Add the Mushrooms and cook until they begin to release their liquid.

Add the Bulgar and toast, stirring, until it begins to smell nutty (about 5 minutes)

Add the warm Chicken Stock.

Stir in the Lemon Juice, Lemon Zest and Parsley.

Bring to a simmer.

Cover. (OK, NO more peeking)

Move to the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven.... OK, NOW you can peek.

Add the Almonds.

Stir, or rather fluff everything up, with a fork.

Recover and place in a handy Platinum Cradle (P-10-M-1)

Remove cover for serving.


Where is your Corningware??
~~