Searching for the right Pot…

Tonight I’m preparing a pot roast, with potatoes and carrots. Nothing makes the house smell better than a nice roast cooking in the oven — the smells just make it feel so comfortable and familiar. It sort of reminds me of Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house. Grandma always went to church on Sunday, while Grandpa stayed home and cooked — usually a pot roast. It was always cooked to perfection.

Five days ago, on an impulse we decided to purchase a new Breadman TR2700 Breadmaker. I immediately came home and made the sourdough starter recipe that came with my Breadman Breadmaker. Tonight, I’m using the starter for the first time and I’m very excited to see how it will turn out. We are all trying to eat healthier and let’s face it, I simply don’t have a lot of faith in our food supply. There have been too many recalls and too many new regulations on what we can and can not buy or eat.

I consider myself very lucky to have a husband who loves good food and enjoys buying quality kitchen tools and appliances. The trouble I’m having is getting used to all these wonderful new items. You know how it is, every cook has his or her favorite cooking tools that have become habit. When you make this dish, you use that utensil. It’s comfortable. Now, I have all these really nice commercial quality cooking tools and I forget to use them. I love these Tovolo spatulas, I just love to use them, the feel good in my hand.

I didn’t have any trouble getting used to my Vollrath Tribute pans either. When I brought them home, I threw my old teflon pans away. I was concerned for my families health. My pans were at least 10 years old, the teflon was starting to peel and I know I had overheated them many times.

In new tests conducted by a university food safety professor, a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736 °F in three minutes and 20 seconds, with temperatures still rising when the tests were terminated. A Teflon pan reached 721 °F in just five minutes under the same test conditions… DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 446 °F. At 680 °F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses.

It wasn’t until I began researching, cookware sets that I uncovered the details. I had no idea that teflon coated pans will begin to leech into the food, once the pan is heated past 446 °F. I knew that aluminum pans can potentially be  bad to cook in. They conduct heat really well, which is why cheaper pans were often made from aluminum, but you don’t want that stuff in your food.

I’ve gradually been switching everything in my kitchen over to commercial grade stainless steel. It cleans up well, cooks evenly and lasts forever. It’s not cheap but I don’t expect to have to replace any of it in the next 20-years. I simply love my Vollrath Tribute pans — they are even made in the U.S.A., which really pleases me.

I need a new stock pot, which is what has me on the topic of cookware again. My last pot was dropped during our last power outage, when I was heating up water and the side got smashed in.  Time for a new one. So, I was searching around on Amazon (I like to comparison shop, before I plunk my money down on any old thing.) looking for a price on a 16 qt. stockpot made by Good Housekeeping but apparently they are now a Wal-Mart brand, and are not available on Amazon. Besides, the pan was made in China.

During my search I was checking out the Vollrath pans — maybe I would just add a huge stock pot to my cupboard. I just about fell out of my chair when I found a 7-piece set of Vollrath Optio Deluxe Cookware for $99.54 on Amazon. Wait a minute — that can’t be right. You can barely buy a single  Vollrath Trubute pan for that price — let alone an entire set.

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t able to find out much about these pans. The Vollrath website say only that…

Optioâ„¢ by Vollrath is stainless steel cookware is specifically designed for the value conscious chef. Constructed of high quality stainless steel and featuring an aluminum-clad bottom for quick and even heat distribution, all Optioâ„¢ by Vollrath Cookware is Induction ready and perfect for use on any type of stove.

I can’t imagine that the quality is anywhere near the quality I’ve come to appreciate from my Vollrath Tribute pans. I haven’t settled on a pan yet — I’m still doing my homework. I even checked out the  All-Clad Cookware that everyone swears is the best,  but I just can’t see spending that kind of money on a set of cookware. What is your favorite kind of cookware or cooking equipment? How much is too much to spend on food preparation?

Playing the Blame Game

My face is very swollen right now; I have an abscessed tooth that is really infected. I am trying hard not to blame anyone but myself, but I really have to wonder who is really to blame.

I have read a great deal in recent years about mercury poisoning from mercury laden dental fillings – and I had plenty. Mom took me to the dentist when I was 12, I had 18 silver amalgam fillings put in – all within a week or two.

I still cannot figure out how I managed to have so many fillings, I was given monthly (or was it weekly) fluoride treatments at the school. These treatments were said to strengthen the enamel on my teeth, to help prevent cavities.

Now, years later, I find out that fluoride is a by-product of another chemical process and we were treated as guinea pigs in a huge government led fraud. Where are all of the studies conducted on those of us who were treated with overdoses of fluoride?

We have learned to avoid flouride treated toothpaste, water with added flouride, as well as juices and other tainted foods.

A study was released just last year showing a relationship between the consumption of sodium benzoate, which is used as a preservative in soft drinks, toothpaste, and many other packaged products.

As parents we have a responsibility to safeguard our children’s health. No one else is going to look out for them. Doctors are too busy treating illnesses – much of it caused by chemical overload – to even give a second thought to preventative measures. Our bodies depend on what we feed it, it is essential that we consume good things and avoid chemicals whenever possible.

If you have health issues, write your congressional representative, and request an investigation into these serious health matters. Studies should be sanctioned to find out what the long-term effects these chemicals will have on us.

In the meantime, I sit here with a swollen face, waiting for the infection to pass so that I can  have this tooth removed. I guess I can blame Obama for my pain — he’s as guilty as anyone.

In Search of the Perfect Dinner Roll

I was born on Thanksgiving Day, so of course, it has always been my favorite holiday.  In my opinion, the rolls are the most important part of the meal.  I plan to make the dinner  rolls once again and there is a reason I do. Can you imagine your hostess forgetting the dinner rolls? That actually happened one year. Since then, I make sure we have rolls and now I don’t have to buy the rolls…

In search of the perfect dinner roll

We were invited to attend a large family gathering of just under 50 people for Thanksgiving dinner. I was asked to bring the dinner rolls. Under normal circumstances, I would have used my bread maker to whip some up but I had received my very first  KitchenAid Mixer  and I was excited about learning using it.

The search began for the perfect dinner roll recipe. I tried several interesting prospects, I had found online that were taunted as “the best dinner rolls” only to be sorely disappointed. I wanted these to be special — the rolls are an important part of the meal and they simply had to be perfect.

I had given myself four-days to learn how to make the perfect dinner roll but after several mediocre attempts, I was certain that I’d never learn the secret and be forced to go out an buy dinner rolls, something I was vehemently opposed to. In fact, if I had a dollar for everyone who told me to “just go buy them” I’d have a nice little nest egg saved up by now.

My first batch was edible but not spectacular, they were delicious with honey or jam but wouldn’t stand on their own. The second batch was a total failure because I was distracted and accidentally killed the yeast. The third batch was worse than the first and barely edible.

Discouraged and frustrated, I asked my husband to help me find the perfect recipe because I felt like a failure.

KitchenAid stand mixer. Taken by Colin Henein.

Another Use for the KitchenAid

Living in the mountains requires lots of forward thinking. We live at 4,000 feet elevation and not only do we have to plan our shopping trips more carefully because our store access is quite limited, but we have a great many other things to consider as well. For instance, I’m gradually replacing all my pans; shiny light colored baking dishes don’t perform well in the oven at these altitudes. So, I buy the darkest pans I can find.

Not all recipes work well at this elevation either. The whole cooking process can be frustrating and often requires adjustments to the way I would normally do things. I know that it takes longer for water to boil at this altitude and noodles have to cook almost twice as long as any recipe calls for. So, it’s hard to judge whether or not the recipes I tried were faulty or if I was having trouble due to the higher altitude.

After trying every search term I could think of, I asked my husband to give it a try. He used the terms “World’s Best Dinner Rolls” and found the best recipe for dinner rolls I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating (with  the exception of  a dinner roll recipe I had years ago,  from a friend — as luck would have it, I can not locate it)  and I baked them at 4,000 feet without a hitch.

I had to make several batches to have enough to feed 50 people, and as luck would have it, I thought I had messed up the last batch by adding the eggs too early. I’m pleased to report even my inability to follow the directions didn’t make a difference. These dinner rolls are fluffy, moist and unless you kill the yeast, they are hard to screw up.

I’m pleased to report that I was invited to bring the dinner rolls to Christmas dinner this year. I’ve decided to try the Honey Butter recipe as well, of course, I’ll make a couple more practice runs before the big day. You really can’t go wrong with these delicious dinner rolls.

I even surprised a few family members with rolls I had baked in round cake pans, removed and sealed in plastic. They were thrilled. You can’t go wrong with a gift of baked goods.

If you have a really good Honey Butter Recipe, please share it below.   Thank you!

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