Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kitchen Collection [43]

There's a point in the life of some people when they realize that food and cooking figure big in it. They understand that they are not dabbling, but are serious about making good food at home.

It's not about becoming a professional chef or anything like that. Just that they enjoy the process of planning, shopping for, preparing, and eating great meals. Not only on special occasions, but every day. It's not a passing fad, but an important part of why they enjoy life.

Our sauteuse, one of a collection of Tools of the Trade we got at Macy's in the eighties.

For me, this realization came around the time of our move to from Washington, DC, to San Francisco, back in the mid eighties. Ken and I had been back from France for nearly five years, but we tried to shop and eat as if we'd never left. We were always on the lookout for good bread and good wine at reasonable prices. We'd drive miles to seek out French ingredients or American ingredients that resembled them (the elusive equivalent of lardons, for example).

We'd make pot-au-feu, rabbit, duck, steak-au-poivre, purée (of everything), and tartes-aux-fruits. We collected cookbooks and watched Julia Child on television for ideas and tips. And we started expanding our collection of kitchen tools, our batterie de cuisine, so that we were well equipped to make everything.

As we settled into San Francisco, this process continued. We discovered Macy's Cellar, a great place back then for reasonably priced kitchen tools of good quality. This was in the days before the proliferation of specialty kitchen stores, and in the days before we could afford to frequent them (later, on a trip to Seattle, we visited Sur La Table for the first time - wow, that was fun !).

I remember that Macy's carried a line of pots and pans called Tools of the Trade. This was good quality stainless steel cookware that was affordable. But it also had a feature that was important to us at the time : the pots and their lids were 100% metal, with no plastic parts, so any of them could go into the oven. We bought several pieces.

The sauteuse pictured above is one of those we got back then. It has served us pretty well for the nearly twenty years we've had it, and looks none the worse for wear. It's been used on electric, gas, and halogen burners, in the oven, and under the broiler, too. Its only drawback is that it won't work on an induction cooktop. But we don't have one of those.

We'll probably have it and the other pots from the same line for the rest of our lives. What more can you ask from a kitchen utensil ?


  1. I was in my early fifties before I realized that cooking was a skill that I needed to develop. I decided to try to learn how to pepare ten different dishes and thus learning the language and equipment necessary. Deep frying the turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas is probably my greatest contribution here. I've made some progress in the last 13 years but have a way to go to be able to prepare an apple pie as good as the one you bake!!!

  2. Conn, it's never too late ! I've never had a deep fried turkey - is it complicated ?

  3. I love deep fried turkey! However, it will never replace an oven roasted one. It is not complicated, and it is VERY quick. However, it is easily burnt if you don't watch those last few minutes. Then, you have a lot of oil to figure out what to do with.
    All in all, though, it is quite good.

  4. I think about food all day long. Not just the eating of it. I think about what it looks like in the store, where I'll go to buy it, what the selection will be, where to store it when it gets to my house, how long it needs to be refrigerated/at room temperature, how far in advance something should be prepared before serving it, what it will be served on, what the table will look like, what the whole arrangement will smell like, what people's reactions will be upon eating the food, how satisfied I will or will not be, will I cook it again, will I modify it, will I seek out another recipe from the same source, will I share it with my friends, etc. As you can see the list goes on and on.

    My partner and I just moved to France. He is French and I am an American. I am in ecstasy with the markets. Now I can fully indulge in my food fantasies.

  5. mpabner - I think I'll have to try this turkey thing one day.

    owen - It does appear that you're a foodie. Good - you're in the right place.


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