Le Crueset cookware

Like most people I have a variety of pots, pans and skillets in my cupboards.  I have everything from glass to non-stick teflon going on in there.  After getting sick and figuring out what I can and can't have we started rethinking our cookware as well.  After doing some research, I felt educated...and appalled.  Here is what I found out!

We all know non-stick cookware is convenient and easy to clean, but it also has some health concerns.  PFOA, a component in teflon coating on those pans, is a know carcinogen and mutagenic.  At least 98% of the population of the US will find PFOA in its bloodstream, and even in the cord blood of newborns.  DuPont, the creator of the substance has been fined heavily in the past for covering up just how dangerous it is.  Oh, and if you have feathered friends in your home, non-stick pans can kill them.  No, I'm not kidding.
If you are still using non-stick pans here are a few tips to use them safely:

  • Don't overheat them, dry heat them or heat them over 400 degrees.
  • If they are in any way scratched or the coating is coming off, throw them away.
  • Don't heat an empty pan - it can take less than 2 minutes to over heat a non-stick pan.
  • Don't sear or broil meat in non-stick pans.  Typically you need to heat the pan past what is safe to cook the meat that way.

Aluminum Cookware is for many people a cost effective way to cook their food.  Unfortunately aluminum can leach into your food.  Cooking veggies in aluminum cookware produces hydroxide poison which can neutralize digestive acids and cause gastro intestinal troubles.  To give you an idea of how bad this stuff is, the sale of aluminum cookware is prohibited in Germany, France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Hungary and Brazil.
Anodized Aluminum seals in the aluminum, and gives it a non-porous non-reactive surface, until the teflon is put on it.  The acidity of your food will break down the surface on these, so be careful to make your sauces in another pot.

Stainless Steel, unless it is surgical grade can be made from pretty much anything, including scrap metal.  The only other thing you have to worry about with these is nickel, in the better pans.  But you have to be able to afford the high end ones to avoid the inferior metals and other leaching concerns.  When you get into that much money, there are better options.

Cast Iron is another great one.  They require some extra maintenance but can be a fairly inexpensive albeit heavy addition to the cupboard.  The drawbacks however, are that seasoned pans are 99.9% of the time seasoned with soy oils.  Be aware of that before you buy them and look for non-seasoned if you want cast iron and season them yourself.

Back in the 80's, glass pots and pans were all the rage.  You can still find them, Corning makes the Visions line here in the US.  No leaching into your food, but a bit on the sticky side.  Great for simply boiling water and making pasta though.  Special bonus with these, they are made by the same group that makes beakers so you feel a little like a mad scientist while doing up dinner!

Ceramic is a newer version of the non-stick pan.  There are a few on the market now in the US, and most aren't worth buying.  The ceramic is inferior and develops pits in the ceramic rather quickly.  Ecoluxe out of Italy is one that's worth buying, but you have to go to Italy or stumble on their pans in Marshalls like I did.  If you find some, buy them.  They're completely worth it.

Last but certainly not least, there are the enameled cast iron variety.  You get all the greatness of the cast iron along with the no leach of the glass.  If you're going to go this route, keep in mind these types of pans are handed down through generations.  They will last you a lifetime and probably your grandkids too, but you pay for that quality.  Le Creuset and Staub are two lines that are worth the money.  Martha is making her own these days, but the reviews were awful on the enamel pitting, cracking and coming off.

For any of you with allergies or intolerances, if you are buying anything second hand and it's porous material, assume it's contaminated and don't buy it.  Save yourself some agony later.

I'm slowly switching over to Le Creuset and glass.  What are you cooking on?

In the strange world we live in, we've never had the question, "Is Santa real?", come up.  Both of my minions have just taken it as certain fact that a rotund man in a red suit delivers one amazing present, to each person around the globe, in one night.  Seems legit, right?
The minions are 11 and 14 and thanks to NORAD and animated Christmas shows, they still have no doubts that:

  1. Santa is real
  2. He needs some of my cookies
  3. He's bringing games for the Wii
Seems Legit...
I was hoping by now they both would have figured out that Santa couldn't be real.  Then again, minion #2 is holding out for a pet chupacabra or bigfoot, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised.  What it boils down to though is this.  We don't lie to the minions.  I've had to explain everything from incest (thanks NatGeo Mummy specials) to complex medical procedures and expectations of pain levels, but we don't lie.  So why do we pick things like this to be untruthful about?  

I've thought long and hard about this, and I think the answer is simple.  There is some magic that revolves around this time of year no matter what religion you follow.  Even if you follow one of the religions that doesn't celebrate the holiday or are atheist, chances are your spirit of giving or being with family is greater, and that's it's own type of magic.  Who wants to end that?  Yeah, I really don't either.

What we will be doing is telling them in a way that involves them being part of the Christmas magic.  I hope that in years to come, it also helps us come together more as a family as it has this year and makes it less about giving things to someone just because it's what's you've always done at this time of year.

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The King took me to Alexandria, Virginia for a weekend away recently.  It was part of my birthday present and it was nice to get some down time.  We spent Sunday in Old Town enjoying the walk around town.  Most of the side walks are kept brick, especially close to the river.  There are even a few cobblestone streets left in places.  I find a certain type of peace in places with that much history.  To walk in places where long dresses swept the ground, armies marched through and people like George Washington and Robert E. Lee walked gives one pause.
One of the brick lined sidewalks.
A number of boutiques, resale and thrift stores as well as eateries and galleries such as The Torpedo Factory abound.  It sounds like something where you'd either buy food, or weapons, but it's been turned into an Art Centre.  Three floors of open galleries and studios to peruse or purchase the works you find.

Torpedo from 1945 on view.
Many of the boutiques had some gorgeous displays for Christmas.  The one below though, took my breath away.  The shop, called decorium was part of an interior design firm, and their shop simply made me happy. "Snow" covered the floors, "ice" covered branches were everywhere and you really felt like you were walking through a winter wonderland indoors.  I could have stayed there all day and poked through each nook and cranny in the shop and still not have seen everything.  It was simply fun.

Decorium's interior window display.
Hopefully before the holidays are done we can get over to Hershey and enjoy Christmas Candylane.  An evening of music, light shows and a rides in the frosty cold is a lot of fun.  I just have to convince minion #1 of that...


As another year comes to a close, I find myself in the same cycles of years past.  I take stock of the things I've done this year, see if I've met the goals I've set for myself both personally and professionally, and start writing the goals for the year ahead.

Some of the goals I've met, some I haven’t.  I really don’t sweat it one way or another.  They’re goals and things to strive for, not how I measure my success and happiness.  I know not everyone is like that, and that’s OK too.  Everyone is different and it’s that bit of different that makes each of us special and unique.

Each goal I set, no matter if it’s a short or long term goal follows a few rules.

The goal is Specific.  It will state what I want to accomplish, who is involved, why I’m doing it, where I’m doing it and list out any requirements or constraints.
The goal will also be Measurable.  I can give it how much percentages, or how manys to see what’s left to do yet.
The goal is Attainable.  If I can answer the question, “How will I accomplish my goal?”, with a realistic answer, it’s attainable.  Being the Doctor’s companion isn't an attainable goal, no matter how cool you think it would be.
The goal is Relevant. Is my goal worthwhile?  Am I the one that should be accomplishing this?  Is it the right time to do this?
The goal is Time bound.  Someday is not part of the goal making formula.  What needs to be done now, next week, next month to accomplish my goal in the X months I have designated to bring it to completion?

My personal goals for the coming year are pretty simple, barring of course the end of the world as predicted by the Mayans.

  • Go back to school in January and work towards my masters. (long term goal)
  • Make 5 new friends and have a girls' night out once a month.
  • Attend one craft show a month, and make my jewelry a small, profitable business that can support 50% of my tuition costs by the end of 2013.
  • Expand on my jewelry line to include some accessories for Thirty One bags.  Meet up with the rep and make sure she has samples by Jan. 15th.
  • Finish the family room and move on to the dining room before Spring.

That’s it so far, but that list is ever changing, so the goals will adjust, change, be added to and some of those will be removed as they are completed.
What are your goals for 2013, or are you hoping the Mayans will be right and you won’t need to make any more goals?