St. Patrick’s Day Dinner 2019

Corned beef and cabbage is a must for any St. Patrick’s Day feast. And if haven’t cured your own corned beef, you’ve gotta try it! It really is pretty easy if you plan ahead — like brining a turkey, but for 5-7 days. The one special ingredient you need is curing salt (sodium nitrite), also known as prague powder or pink salt (not the same as Himalayan pink salt). It’s easiest to purchase online — I bought this one a couple years ago and it will probably last me forever.

Typically corned beef is made from brisket — but any tough cut will do (must be suited for long, slow cooking, like a pot roast). So this time I’m trying it with a chuck roast. That has led to a slight hiccup in my menu planning: Because the roast is thicker than a brisket, there’s no room for cabbage in my slow cooker! Consequently I’ve added a mustardy coleslaw to the lineup, which I think complements the corned beef pretty well.

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day menu:

  • Home-Cured Corned Beef (roughly based on this curing recipe and this cooking recipe)
  • Mashed Potato Casserole with Cheddar and Green Onions (recipe)
  • Braised Collard Greens (recipe: Braised Winter Greens from Cook’s Illustrated‘s More Best Recipes)
  • Mustardy Cabbage and Apple Slaw (recipe)

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster, Corning Ware April DC-1 1/2-B Designer Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 043 Oval Casserole, Pyrex Verde 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl

Christmas Dinner 2018

Arcopal’s French Hen pattern reminds me of The 12 Days of Christmas, so I made it the starting point for my Christmas dinner tableware this year. I haven’t had a chance to use my Arcopal casserole dish since finding it last year, so I’m excited to finally put it to work. I’ll combine it with some red and green Pyrex to round out the Christmas motif.

I’m also using some Corning Ware petite pans to make individual bread puddings for dessert. They don’t match, but they’ll allow me to prep the puddings a day in advance and then go directly from refrigerator to oven for baking — so hey, function over form!

The only thing I’m missing is a vintage platter for my Cornish hens. I’m going to have to start looking for one on my thrifting adventures.

Tentative menu:

  • Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Herbs (recipe)
  • Barley and Herb Pilaf
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Salad
  • Mini Bourbon Bread Puddings (recipe)

Pictured: Pyrex Verde 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Arcopal French Hen Casserole, Pyrex 024 Holiday Casserole Round Casserole, Pyrex 024 Lime Round Casserole, Corning Ware Spice O’ Life P-41-B Petite Pan (x2), Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-41-B Petite Pan (x5), Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-89-B Lipped Saucepan

Thanksgiving 2018

It’s an all-Corning Ware Thanksgiving! At least for my own cooking. I’m not hosting this year, but I signed myself up for a lot of sides. Corning Ware was a natural choice because it can go from fridge to oven to stove to microwave without any problems. And I went with patterns that would go well with pretty much anything else on the table.

On the menu:

  • No-Cook Cranberry Relish (recipe)
  • Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Gratin (recipe)
  • Sweet & Smoky Mashed Sweet Potatoes (recipe)
  • Bread Stuffing with Sausage, Pecans and Dried Apricots (from Cooks Illustrated’s The New Best Recipe)

Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-1 1/2-B Casserole, Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-3-B Casserole, Corning Ware French White F-12-B Casserole, Corning Ware French White F-2-B Casserole

Easter Dinner 2018

My Easter meal planning this year was inspired by two things: 1) the desire to use my Pyrex pink daisy divided dish (because pink and daisies are so Easter), and 2) the beautiful rainbow carrots and red fingerling potatoes we got in our produce box this week. The divided dish will be perfect for a berry and whipped cream dessert, and the carrots and potatoes will be roasted and tossed in a carrot top pesto.

For everything else, I’ve pulled together the most Easter-y pastels I could find in my collection: lime green, gold and sunny orange.

Rough menu:

  • Spice rubbed rotisserie chicken (recipe)
  • Roasted carrots and potatoes with carrot top pesto (recipe)
  • Brussels sprout quiche (recipe)
  • Simple salad with kumquat dressing (recipe)
  • Parker House rolls
  • Assorted berries with fresh whipped cream

 

Pictured: Pyrex Pink Daisy Divided Dish, Pyrex Lime 024 Round Casserole, Pyrex Butterfly Gold 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Lime 232 Oblong Open Baker, Corning Ware Butterscotch Round B-2 1/2-B Saucepan, Corning Ware French White F-3-B Quiche Dish, Fire King Gravy Boat

10 Tips for Thrifting Vintage Pyrex

Hunting for vintage Pyrex in thrift stores has become one of my favorite pastimes. The thrill of seeing a piece on the shelf, the rock-bottom price tags, the satisfaction of cleaning a grimy dish and returning it to sparkling condition — it all adds to the fun of collecting. Here are 10 tips for making the most out of your thrifting experience.

  1. Go early and often. Many thrift stores stock their shelves multiple times a day, seven days a week. Collectible items like vintage Pyrex get snatched up fast, so the best way to get lucky is to hit up the stores frequently.
  2. Prioritize. It’s hard to scan for multiple items at once. Pick one type of Pyrex to look for — say, casseroles vs. mixing bowls — and focus on that first.
  3. Take another pass. On crowded shelves, great stuff can be missed. When you’ve finished looking up and down the aisles, go back through at least once.
  4. Look in unexpected places. Pyrex can turn up in the holiday section, in the plastics, in the cookware — a quick glance down the “wrong” aisle can turn up gold.
  5. Watch your competitors. Is anyone else shopping the same aisle? The items people pick up can clue you in on whether or not they’re looking for Pyrex. You might need to move fast to beat them to a coveted dish. Conversely, if there’s nobody around you can take your time to scrutinize every shelf.
  6. Check carefully for flaws. It’s better to discover chips, scratches or color loss (aka dishwasher damage) in the store rather than at home post-purchase. Then make an informed decision about whether or not you want to buy.
  7. Don’t overlook lids. In many cases, the lid is harder to find than the dish it fits. When you see a lid without its mate, it’s often worthwhile to grab it now and match them up later!
  8. Do some research. Try to get a feel for which patterns or sizes are common and which are harder to find. Should the dish have a lid? Is it part of a set? Could you get it for less on eBay?
  9. Ask for a discount. Don’t be afraid to ask (politely) for a better deal, especially if an item is damaged.
  10. Be choosy. It’s tempting to buy every piece you come across. But the reality is that most vintage Pyrex is not all that rare — you can find a lot of great dishes over time if you’re patient. Remember, chipped Pyrex should not be used in the oven, so chips take away from a dish’s value and utility. Dishwasher damaged Pyrex will never regain its shine. Some pieces you find might be severely overpriced, even in a thrift store. Keep all of that in mind, but if you love it, buy it!

Christmas Dinner 2017

Keeping up my new tradition of documenting my holiday cookware

I’m not hosting Christmas dinner this year, but I still get to contribute to the cooking for a big family meal. I happen to have a lot of these Corning Ware mini casseroles, so I’m planning to put them to use for some individual gratin potatoes.

After seeing these casseroles repeatedly at thrift stores, I started collecting them to use as everyday dishes (when I got to 12 I cut myself off). They’re a great size for snacks, salads and recipe prep, and I’ve been dying to find some time to use them for baking. So tomorrow, gratin potatoes, and next maybe some creme brulee or chocolate pudding!

Pictured: Corning Ware French White F-15-B Oval Casserole (x12)

7 Must-Have Pyrex and Corning Ware Dishes

Much as I would love to collect every piece of vintage kitchenware that I come across, space constraints demand a more practical approach. I try to buy things that I will actually cook with, and if they have multiple uses, even better. Of course, I must admit I own more ovenware than any one person really needs, because I also collect dishes that interest me or that have a pattern I haven’t seen before. I’ll get around to using it all … eventually!

That got me thinking about which pieces I really couldn’t live without. I managed to narrow the list down to seven items that get the most use in my kitchen:

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Pyrex 404 Round Mixing Bowl (pictured in Verde)
This is the largest of the nested mixing bowls (4 quarts) — perfect for batters and doughs. It’s also a nice size for serving salads, rolls, chips, etc. Plus it’s ovenware, so you could totally bake a casserole in it.

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Pyrex 024 Round Casserole (pictured in Holiday Casserole)
I’ve used this shallower bowl (2 quarts) for marinating chicken, as a serving piece, for storing leftovers in the fridge, and for baking casseroles. Plus: It seems fairly easy to find lids in this size.

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Pyrex 472 Round Casserole (pictured in Spring Blossom)
This is my favorite size (1 1/2 quarts) for hot or cold party dips, or small side dishes like cranberry sauce. You could also eat out of it.

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Corning Ware A-5-B Saucepot (pictured in Spice O’Life)
This is Corning Ware’s largest pot (5 liters), great for soups, chili, roasts and the like.

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Corning Ware A-10-B Skillet (pictured in Pastel Bouquet)
This one shares the same lid with the A-5-B, which is handy. I’ve put it to use as a frying pan, for braising meats in the oven and as a baking dish.

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Corning Ware A-3-B Casserole (pictured in Country Festival)
This holds about the same amount as a 13x9x2 pan (3 quarts; the conversion works better for casseroles than for cakes). It’s an all-around nice size for cooking and serving.

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Corning Ware Grab-It Bowls (I’ve only ever found these in white, although some patterned versions do exist)
These make great everyday tableware — for cereal, soup, salad, etc — but they are also a perfect size (15 oz) for individual casseroles like pot pie. And being Corning Ware, they can go under the broiler, in the freezer and everywhere in between. How can you beat a cereal bowl that you can also put on the stovetop to heat up soup, melt butter or fry an egg? Grab-Its also have both glass and rubber lids available, making them handy for storing single-serving leftovers.