Friday, November 12, 2010

Pots, Pans and Potatoes

What IS on that cooktop? Interesting that you would ask right now as The Distracted  Cook is thinking that she needs some new pots and pans, Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? Hop in the RDX Razzle Dazzle and drive on down to the pot and pan store. Oh wait, there isn't any pot and pan store is there? Nope, not really. We do have the usual places to look - Williams Sonoma, Sur La Table, Linens N Things, Walmart, Target, Macy's, you know the drill. But what if I want a really "just right" pot for my cooktop and my cooking style? Then what?

Well The Distracted Cook decided to ask for some help and I was rewarded with some pretty good ideas from a group of "in the know" cooks and chefs who are fellow recipe testers. So I am taking their advice and checking out some suggestions. Almost unanimously, All-Clad was the number one suggested brand and for a lot of good reasons. I did confess that I have a rather brutal style in dealing with my equipment. Not that I throw them around, but I have threatened to brandish the cast iron skillet a few times when someone crosses the line when I am cooking! I really wouldn't do that, but I just love the tall tales about the cooks conking someone on the head with the skillet. And apparently I am not the only one - if you read closely in Michael Ruhlman's The Elements of Cooking you  will see that he knows about the power of the cast iron pot also. I strongly urge you to read his section about cookware if you, like me, are in the process of refitting your kitchen cookware.

Here is what The Distracted Cook has in her supply of cooking utensils - and you will certainly see the pattern here. I have never really been overly concerned with what I am using to cook, and that is obviously a BIG mistake. If you don't use the right size and type of cooking vessel, the recipes aren't always going to result in a big success. Nope, and I never even thought to consider such a thing! It took a good friend from Canada (Thanks so much, Dan) to point that out a few times, especially when it comes to baking things in the oven (where else would I bake them? but that is another story: think Salt Lake City and SUN, SUN, SUN.)

So here they are: an over 30 year old "set" of Revere Ware copper bottomed stainless steel things. 2 skillets (or are these things saute pans? I better check that out), a big pot, a teeny tiny pot, and then the two that I use most often. There are four lids so that everyone has a hat when they need it. Not too bad after all these years, but when you get to cooking you sometimes need more than just two "good size" pots on the stove at once. And if you have already used them and haven't thought ahead to wash them up because you are keeping what's in them "warm" somewhere in the kitchen, you have nothing to use.

But I do. I have another pot that was a gift from a lovely daughter (thank you Kristin) and it is a medium size  non-stick one. But I have done really bad things to this over the years and it isn't very happy right now. This is what he looks like:

So, the next step is to just do it! But what size should I get? I think I'll ask around again for the perfect all-use size. And then we'll see what we can cook-up!

Actually, this is one of the things that I am going to cook up! Right off the starting block, I am thinking that I will use this new pot to boil some potatoes for the very best potato salad in the world. And it is just the thing for The Distracted Cook because it is so easy, so quick, so good. And once you make it, you almost (almost!) don't have to bother with a recipe again. Here is what you do:

1. Go to this place to get a copy of the recipe (how else would you know what to do??) and print it out and staple it to something so you don't lose it. And don't just put it anywhere - start a folder (another story for later) labeled "Really Good" or something that you will remember as your "Go To" place.

2.  Do exactly what the instructions tell you to do. It is really really easy, isn't it? You will love this potato salad and the creme fraiche and chives really give it a special zing. And guess what? Kids love it too, and that was a welcomed and pleasant surprise.

3.  Remember where you put that folder and what you called it because you will be adding to it. And what's the point of being all organized if you can't remember where your organization is, right?

You may just be asking yourself "So what makes this recipe one that The Distracted Cook would put up here for me to see?" Let me tell you - this is a really good recipe. BUT, you can do a whole lot more with it and that is what being The Distracted Cook is all about - and you know that already, don't you! Just think about some crispy bacon sprinkled over the top - that works! Or maybe you really like basil as much as we do? Well tump some shredded basil over the bacon then. And guess what? If you have some great tomatoes sitting around, a few slices beside this potato salad makes a great plate even better. Go ahead and give it a try - you can follow the directions as far as they go and then just keep on going. The hallmark of a great recipe in the opinion of The Distracted Cook is that it is perfect as is but you can make it "your own" with some additional tinkering. Now go ahead - get out that pot and start boiling those potatoes.


  1. I'm going to make that potato salad - sounds yummy!!

  2. The Distracted Cook hopes that you enjoyed the salad - isn't it really good? If you made any changes to the recipe let us know so we can have some more great ways to make it too!
    Thanks and I hope to see you back here again soon.


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