I was thinking about moving the other day. As much as I love my house, which has taken 34 years to perfect, I’ve decided that it’s too much trouble for one little woman; the woodland pests (deer, ants, snakes), the icy gravel lane in the winter, the remote location. The BFF and I really don’t need 11 rooms and three full baths. I can’t get her to bathe enough, as it is, although she needs it, after chasing the aforementioned deer through the aforementioned woods all the muddy winter long.
I googled houses for sale in my neighborhood and found a solid brick rancher on a corner lot with a field across the road. My imagination, as it usually does, went wild. The price was great (sadly, it was a foreclosure). A two-car garage and deck or terrace could be added. The living room had refinished hardwood floors and a fireplace for my pellet stove. There were no photos of the bedrooms or the two full and one half baths, but I imagined that they were serviceable, in a retro way.
Even the kitchen, with a recently installed stove and microwave and decent stainless sinks and faucet were usable. The vinyl flooring was a mess. No sweat to replace. The refrig was missing. No big deal. I have a spare, if I have to use it. The counter was a hideous red Formica. Easily replaceable. But I hesitated at the cabinets, which were plain, golden oak. No trim. No handles. Probably strippable. Probably paintable. All things I have done a million times in my lifetime to other sketchy cabinets, but these cabinets were few…and far between.
I thought of my cooking equipment. I thought of the number of cabinets in my own splendid kitchen and sighed. Do I really want to return to the 1970s? I have soooo much stuff, so many pans, so many gadgets, so much glassware and china and flatware and table linens. Everything lovingly chosen for a specific purpose. No “sets” with useless extras.
I could hang a pot rack again, but it wouldn’t hold everything. I’d have to purge. I gave a lot of things to The Daughter when she set up her own household, but there’s still so much stuff left in my conveniently-placed deep drawers and pull-out shelves.
I wouldn’t get rid of my two cast iron skillets. One belonged to my grandmother and one was given to us as a wedding gift, holding a pineapple upside-down cake. I use them both every week, and you can’t make a dark roux or blacken a steak or piece of fish in anything less substantial. (Yes, I still blacken stuff, sometimes intentionally.)
I have two omelet pans, a Calphalon and a stainless-lined copper. I already gave away a non-stick Calphalon omelet pan to The Daughter. I blame The Veterinarian for those. He was famous for his omelets and was always looking for the perfect pan. I gave it to The Daughter because she makes omelets, and I don’t.
I have a non-stick 10” skillet and an enormous 12” Calphalon fryer with lid. When I need that big pan, nothing else will do. I have a wok which I use more for deep-frying than as a wok. I don’t deep-fry any more, but I wouldn’t part with it. I have a cast-iron fajita grill and stove-top grill and a 12” griddle. I might jettison the fajita grill. It’s definitely superfluous.
That’s just the skillets. Then, there’s the saucepans, stock pots, Dutch ovens, and gratin pans. As outdated as they are, how could I part with my two remaining Club Aluminum saucepans, remnants of my earliest days of cooking? You can really smash a potato masher into the larger of the two. How could I part with the little Calphalon with the steamer insert, which, now that I’m cooking for one most of the time, is the perfect size?
I’ve ended up with two 3-quart Calphalon saucepans, thanks to the aforementioned woodland pests and, I suspect, bacteria. I once carelessly left one of them unattended while I was boiling down some stock. (Probably distracted by something stupid like the laundry or the BFF eating something inedible.) The residue burned into the bottom of the pan so badly that I couldn’t get it out with soaking or steel wool. It had become lumpy and completely unusable. Thoroughly disgusted with myself, I threw the pan outside into the woodsy underbrush, where it lay for over a year. (One of the many advantages of living in the woods without neighbors; you can chuck stuff into the brush.) I trotted over to Target and bought another, this time, non-stick (so when it burns it will provide toxic fumes).
When the reject reappeared, in an accusatory manner, in the dead of winter, I retrieved it and was surprised to find that the black residue was gone. I don’t want to know where or why. I filled it with water, boiled it for 10 minutes, carefully observing it this time, and voilà! Now, I have two 3-quart saucepans, one with a clear glass lid and one with a lid that strains the contents. Both are useful, so neither is redundant, right?
I have two stainless-lined copper saucepans with lids and one solid copper for making candy (again, I blame the Dearly Departed for the excess). There’s the enameled double-boiler, which also is small enough to make the perfect stovetop-to-oven casserole for one little woman. There’s the Le Creuset Dutch oven in which I always make my butternut squash soup and Julia’s Boeuf à la Bourguignonne and a domed Dutch oven for my pot roast. Don’t ask me to choose! Same with my two stock pots, both of which have strainer inserts and one has a steamer basket. I always strain my stock from one pot into the other. How else could I make a clear stock?
I have two beautiful copper gratin pans, both works of art, especially the Italian one with the acorns on the handles, a spectacular gift from old friends. I never part with works of art.
I have two roasting pans, one of which holds a 25-pound turkey on a rack. What else could I use, once a year, on Thanksgiving? Not that I’m roasting 25-pound turkeys these days, but, it could happen, couldn’t it?
I must not be the only one with a pan fetish. The vacation condo that I stay in on Grand Cayman came equipped with a basic set of pans, two sizes of saucepans, two sizes of skillets, and a Dutch oven. For the past three years, I’ve noticed that the other co-owners have added two skillets, a stock pot, and a roasting pan, some of questionable quality, I must say. None of us is there for longer than three weeks, so you’d think the basic assortment would be sufficient. I didn’t contribute to the pan collection, but I bought better knives and wine glasses. First things first, I always say. Now, if I could get them to replace the glass-topped electric stove with gas burners…
Yeah, my knife (not to mention sharpener) and stemware collections are subjects for other days. I blame the Veterinarian for those fetishes, too. How convenient!
I have been mostly inactive on the dating site. I did receive the following email,
“Enjoyed reading your profile. It made me laugh, multiple times. 1st and last paragraphs are exceptionally honest, the others somewhat challenging. Understand not playing games, but playing nice may prove beneficial. But what do I know.”
He’s “currently separated,” so, probably, not much. I answered,
“Thanks for the commentary! I don’t know how to be less than honest. I was with one man for 42 years and have no clue what men are looking for. I can only be me.”
Pointlessly, he replied, “Sorry for the unsolicited commentary. It seemed you were a little frustrated and the scammers seem to pick up on that. It just takes a little time to get the hang of online dating, at least that has been my experience.”
I am happy to say that my profile seems to have deterred the scammers, as I have heard from just one in the past two weeks. His profile name contained the words “sugary” and “muffin.” Before I ever read it — because, why would you read anything written by a man describing himself as baked goods? — his profile became “unavailable,” meaning that some other exasperated woman beat me to reporting him. Get a load of what he wrote:
I pray that this letter meets you in good health. I really enjoyed reading your profile & everything you have to say about yourself …. I am a gentleman as respectful and considerate as I am passionate and focused. The most virile men, I think, are the ones that combine a steel core of resilience in adversity with a loving devotion to wife and family, and who want their families to be truly happy. [Points for that.] The small things matter: warmth, good conversation, and fun, the capacity to give and receive and to experience…I would appreciate it, if you could contact me on my personal email, so that i will contact you at my convenient and tell you more about me, my family and work…I’m not into finding girls in bars or parties i believe people i find here are responsible and are searching for the same thing. I humbly urge you to find time and convey your reply back to me .
PS.. I went through your profile and pictures and I was like wow ,YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, Quite enchanting!!!!!”
“Enchanting.” No one ever uses that word any more outside of Disney films. I am quite taken with the idea that I could be “enchanting.” I don’t think of myself as an “enchanter.” I’m more the “annoyer” or the “defender.” My enchantments would be more like the seductive Siren than the hapless Helen of Troy; more luring ships to the rocks than launching them to my rescue.
Maybe I am challenging on the outside, but, honestly, on the inside, I’m really a cream puff, full of sweet crème anglaise, gently thickened in the perfect double-boiler. Cooking is quite sensual, obviously, which is why I just can’t part with my pots and pans or my kitchen. They’ve served me faithfully, so, who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!