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Cheryle Finley: Choosing pots and pans for all types of cooking |

Cheryle Finley: Choosing pots and pans for all types of cooking

Maybe it’s like your mom’s. Maybe it was your mom’s. Maybe you bought it on sale. Maybe you bought it at a garage sale. Maybe it was a wedding gift. No matter how it ended up in your kitchen, your cookware is an important part of serving up meals from your kitchen.

When you acquired you cookware, what benefits did you consider? Maybe it was pretty and would go great in your kitchen or contained a lot of pieces for the money. But was it the best choice when it came time for it to perform on the stove?

One pan may be a fine heat conductor but a poor heat retainer, making it impractical for long, slow simmers. Another may absorb heat slowly but retain it for a long time, making it great for stove top simmers. The “Family Circle Good Cook’s Book” has some pros and cons for choosing the right cooking utensil material.

• Aluminum — very good heat conductor, durable and inexpensive. Reacts to acidic and alkaline foods with discoloration and metallic tastes in the food.

• Carbon steel — good heat conductor and heats quickly. Can rust and reacts to acidic foods.

• Cast iron — evenly conveys and retains heat. It’s sturdy, heavy and warp-resistant. Slow to heat and reacts adversely to acidic foods and is prone to pitting and rusting.

• Copper — a good conductor of heat and is durable and resistant to corrosion. Doesn’t retain heat well and is expensive.

• Glass, ceramic (earthenware, stoneware, etc.) — retains heat well and is usually microwave safe if it doesn’t have metal content or trim. Poor conductor of heat and can crack with radical temperature changes and decorative pieces from other countries should not be used for food.

• Stainless steel — durable and corrosion resistant. Poor heat conductor unless combined with aluminum, carbon steel or copper.

• Tinned steel — reliable, economical and preferred by bakers. Tends to discolor and melts above 449 degrees.

• Porcelain on metal — has same heat absorption and conduction as the metal it coats. Tends to chip and may crack if exposed to radical heat changes.

When it comes to microwave cooking vessels, you want to be safe instead of sorry. To test if a dish is microwave safe, place it in the microwave next to (not touching) a glass measuring cup that contains1/2 cup water. Microwave on high for one minute. If the dish becomes very warm or hot, it should not be used in the microwave.

Today’s recipes are from “Betty Crocker’s Best Recipes of the Year.” I don’t know what year, but these recipes are good any time. The squash is a delicious side dish that’s a little off the beaten path, and the omelet is perfect for any meal. Fix the tart for your family to treat them like company or for company to treat them like family. Everyone will love it.

Have a great week, and happy eating.

Cinnamon squash rings

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 egg

1/4 cup soft bread crumbs

1/4 cup cornmeal

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 large acorn squash, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices and seeded

1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

Mix first three ingredients. Mix next three in separate bowl. Dip squash into egg mixture then coat with bread crumb mixture; repeat.

Place in ungreased 9-by-13-inch baking dish; drizzle with butter. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Yields six servings.

Baked vegetable omelet

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

1 1/2 cups chopped broccoli or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained

2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup milk

1/4 cup flour

3 eggs

Layer pepper cheese, broccoli, tomatoes and Ccheddar cheese in ungreased 8-inch square baking dish. Beat milk, flour, salt and eggs until smooth; pour over cheese.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until egg mixture is set, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Yields six servings.

Brown sugar pear tart


1 1/3 cups flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened


4 medium pears, pared

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together all crust ingredients except butter; cut in butter until crumbly. Press firmly and evenly against bottom and side of ungreased 12-inch pizza pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for eight minutes. Cut each pear lengthwise into halves; remove core.. Place each pear half, cut side down, on cutting surface. Cut crosswise into thin slices.

With spatula, lift each pear half and arrange on crust, fanning and overlapping slices to cover surface of pears. Mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon; sprinkle over pears.

Bake at 375 degrees until crust is golden brown and pears are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Yields eight servings.

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