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Dinner = Fail

I ate most of my produce before heading off to Boston and then New York, and I finished off the two wrinkly potatoes (in an upcoming post) and the remaining kale earlier this week.

So yesterday and today, I have been steaming chicken dumplings that I bought frozen in Chinatown.

Fail #1 – not reading the package
How hard could it be to steam dumplings? I’ve done this before, and it’s pretty simple. The only hard part is having the water line low enough that it won’t boil up to the level of the dumplings (making them hard and chewy instead of soft and silky, but still delicious).

Well, I missed the part where the chicken meat was not pre-cooked and you should check the internal temperature. Until I was 2/3 of the way through the package (i.e. the second day of eating them). And even when I did notice, I decided that that rather than tossing the pink piece back into the steamer that it would just leak everywhere, and it was tasty anyway.

Right, so if you never see the post about mustard oil, have someone check my apartment to make sure my cat isn’t eating my salmonella-poisoned body.

Fail #2 – Overcompensating
So, once I noticed that they needed to cook a bit more, I walked off and left the pot unwatched for about eight minutes. *cue ominous music*

This was enough time for the subsequent dumplings to steam to tasty perfection.

It was also enough time for the liquid to steam away completely (in a well-covered pot) and for the bottom bamboo tray to stick to the burning non-stick coating of my pot.


So I’ve had the same cheap, thin, crappy basic apartment-warming set of pots for about four years. Really, they were cheap and crappy. And the coating was starting to wear around the edges of two of the saucepans.

But I kind of loved them. For all kinds of reasons I hadn’t been expecting to.

And now that I definitely need to replace my pots, I have to figure out whether I want quality cookware (foodie guilt!) or whether another set just the same will suit my needs.

What I like about the cheap set

  • the pots nest together, so I’d like another proper set regardless of quality
  • I love the crappy-set wee sizes – the 1 qt saucepan that exactly holds a square of ramen or 2 person quantities of hot chocolate or 1 can of campbell’s soup & the 5 qt soup pot which makes exactly the right amount of stock for one of my large airtight containers
  • I like the knob handles on my lids much more than the ones with two attachments points that you can fit your fingers in, which seem to be more prevalent in higher end lines. I think the lids stack better with just the know resting in the apex of the lid above.
  • Would you believe that I haven’t scratched the non-stick coating on the cooking surfaces at all? It’s dead easy to take care of, if you know how… and I don’t even have a dishwashing machine. The only wear points for the coating have been around the rims where the lids rest

What I would like to be better in my next set of cookware

  • I don’t like handle rivets poking into the inside cooking surface. When I was young, we had no pans that did this. The technology can’t have been lost.
  • fine, slightly more even heat distribution might be nice, but it hasn’t been much of a problem

What I would like, but can’t afford/fit in my apartment

  • I’d love me some enameled cast-iron. I’ve used my friend’s, and it’s easy to clean, surprisingly non-stick, and sexy as hell. But she could find hers at the local thrift stores and had a lot of storage space.
  • I can’t fit a full-sized stock pot, but now that I know three or four people interested in canning, a big ass pot is looking appealing. If I can just figure out where to put one.

So please offer me cookware suggestions.

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