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30 April 2011 @ 01:10 pm
Misc. mini-reviews, a bullet list  
 Of late, I have had the opportunity to try some things that have made me want to post LJ entries about them. But then I never get to them. So now I'm just going to post them all!

~ First up, I ended up with a Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card for $10, and a 20% off coupon. So i purchased one of those Yoshi ceramic knives they have the infomercials for. I already have a great set of stainless steel kitchen knives (I need to sharpen them more, but they are still great knives). So while I've been curious about the oft-touted ceramic knives, I haven't wanted to spend any money on them. I figured, what the hey, for $5, I'll try this probably middle-of-the-road version.

Well, first I cut potatoes with it. Not bad, but it didn't exactly make me go "ooh, ahhh, best knife ever!" Still, it was a good, solid performer. Then I made a salad with it, a process that usually requires me to use multiple knives - a chef's knife to cut the lettuces and onion, and a serrated knife for the tomato. Only at their very sharpest do my stainless steel flat bladed knives cut tomatoes well, and even then they can squish instead of cut if I get a particularly tough skin. This ceramic knife cut through them like butter, never catching once. That was a pleasant surprise. So, while I'm not sure I would run out a pay a bunch of money for a ceramic knife, it's a nice addition to my knife collection.

~ Next, is a birthday gift I received, a Le Creuset Square Grill Pan. Anyone serious about cooking knows the name Le Creuset. French cookware, pretty enamel colors over cast iron, and Rachel Ray always used them on 30 Minute Meals. This is the first Le Creuset I've owned. As many of you know, my Mom is a chef. (Yes, really.) I have a beautiful set of Try-ply stainless steel cookware she gave me, the Cuisinart Multi-clad Pro. It is All-Clad without the extra price for the name. In fact, in comparing them to my single All-Clad piece, I prefer the shape and slight lip the Cuisinart pans have. Other than that, they are identical, and I love my cookware with the fiery passion of a thousand stars going supernova. I had no need, to my mind, of any heavy Le Creuset cookware, however pretty or fantastically functional it might be. But when you live in a family of cordon bleu trained chef's (my sister as well), you get fancy kitchen things as gifts, fairly frequently. (The funny thing is, my Mom has yet to replace all of her own cookware. She buys my sister and I this awesome stuff, and then puts off spending the money for herself. IDK. The problem is, she tries this pan from this company, or this pan from that company, and they're awesome, but the cookware she already has is also from some top company and works really well, so she sees no point in spending the money to replace it with this new pan she likes better.)

Anyway, the grill pan. This is a very specific piece. Let me start by saying, I will not be running out a replacing my cookware with Le Creuset. I still love what I have, and honestly, I like it better than I think I would the very heavy cast iron. HOWEVER, this grill pan replaces a kitchen piece I have long hated - the broiler pan. Hard to clean, messy, a pain in the butt, and food tastes nowhere near as good as it does from the grill outside. But if you live in Oregon, you don't get the luxury of outdoor grilling year round. Hence, the broiler pan gets used a lot in our house, despite my loathing for it. It gets used so much, the cheap thing was actually starting to warp. Enter this square grill pan. Heat if on the stove top over medium heat, apply liberal amounts of extra virgin olive oil, and sear your protein of choice. I have cooked both steak and chicken on it twice, and so far, I am very, very pleased. The food sears wonderfully, flip it a couple of times and wait until it's cooked to your liking, and serve. My husband loves his steaks with this thing, and my chicken is very flavorful. I think my next step is going to be searing on the stovetop, followed by putting it under the broiler in the oven to finish. We'll see what that does, but so far, I vastly prefer this method of cooking to the terrible broiler that must be covered in foil to use. Cleaning is easy - simply wait to cool slightly, then submerge in soapy warm water and let soak. I've let it soak overnight both times, but you could probably check it after an hour or so. Wipe softened goo out with paper towel, toss, then wash by hand has normal and pan is clean! Directions say dishwasher safe, but I'd rather not treat the enamel coating with harsh detergent.

~ Dupioni silk. Some of you may remember last year, I made myself a cute little summer shirt from washed dupioni silk. Having worn it for almost a year now, I can safely say it's one of my favorite shirts. Lightweight, breathable, doesn't stain easily, washing is a breeze, and the fabric is still beautiful with that light silky sheen. For Easter this year, I needed a white shirt but didn't want to go to the store and search for just the right one, so I pulled out some scraps I had of some white dupioni (never throw out scraps, especially silk scraps!), and made myself a really cute little dress shirt. It has a great criss-cross pleated bodice, cute pleated sleeves, and the silk makes it very dressy, but again, easy to care for.  I washed the silk first, so it won't shrink, and silk dries in the snap of some fingers and a five minute application of a dry iron set to "silk", so if I need to wear it to dinner, I can have it washed and ready to go in twenty minutes. Here are some poorly taken pictures. Also, the top is not ironed here.

 

 
 
 
 
"Connoisseurs of Difficulty"kistha on April 30th, 2011 10:24 pm (UTC)
I could use some silk tunic tops.... :)

And what I want in Cruset is a dutch oven. For the rare occasion I don't use the crock, which is why I haven't bought one yet.
KayJayUU: snowpolekayjayuu on May 1st, 2011 05:24 pm (UTC)
But if you live in Oregon, you don't get the luxury of outdoor grilling year round.

Respectfully... in North Dakota, if it's above 20F, it's grillin' weather! XD
rhienellethrhienelleth on May 1st, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but it's not the cold for us. It's the unrelenting downpour of rain. We'd have to buy a grill a year if we left it outside all fall/winter, cause it would rust out, even if we were willing to stand out in the wet and grill. :D