How often do you burn potatoes?

potatoes1.JPGBy Nia Sowden – author of Cooking with Nia

I guess I’ve burnt potatoes more than any other food and more often than any one else. I have a short attention span. I’ll be in the garden or at the sewing machine or cleaning the car and hear my kids call out to me “Mom, you’ve burnt the pot again”.

I get distracted and forget that I have a pot of jam on the stove or potatoes and other vegetables cooking for the evening meal. I‘ll be the one to take the vegetable scraps out to the compost bin… and then I’ll be distracted…my gaze will fall on the ripening plums or great bunches of parsley that require harvesting. Or I will rescue a capsicum seedling from a scampering herb and I’ll have forgotten about dinner. Then I’ll hear the call, “Mom what are you burning now?!”

Someone has gone into the kitchen or been drawn there by something unpleasant. I know I’m responsible for childhood memories, the smell of burning food and burnt pots is not a pleasant one for them, but it balances the wonderful gems that I create and don’t end up burning.

So to clean burnt pots, potato peelings always worked for me. Just fill your pots with peelings and leave to soak, then gently bring to the boil and the burn comes away.

All-Clad 3-qt.  Cop-r-Chef Saute PanI have destroyed more pots than most people as well. Two pots with welded copper plates on the bottoms I heated to such temperatures that the copper came off! My father calls me a cooking beta tester, and said anyone designing a cooking product should give it to me to test. Two days with me would determine a good product. He is incredibly unfair I think. I can’t help it if things aren’t made to last and as I said I get distracted easily.

Caring for pots is something I’d like to do more often. I have always admired the pictures in home magazines with the pots hanging up above an island bench. Shiny and interesting shapes and big useful pots and fish shaped copper moulds and conical strainers, all ready to be put to work.

When they were new and I only had the four of them and they were my pride and joy. They sat to attention in the pot cupboard with their lids on shiny and happy. Then I bought great pots for stocks and sauces and spaghetti. A conical strainer or two, stainless bowls and more stainless bowls, biscuit trays and muffin pans, Madeline pans, gem irons, cup cake pans, square tins heart tins round cake tins all sizes. And then more pots and frying pans, woks and steamers. I just kept increasing the range and variety of pots and pans without thought to the storage of them.

The truth about my pots is they are stacked on top of one another – baking pans, roasters, saucepans all crammed in on top of one another and they crash and bang when I try to retrieve anything. My pots have dents in them, they are crowded into a pot cupboard and the care they get is very general, they are used and abused.

Cleaning and caring for your pots and pans

I took out my pans beginning with my oldest copper bottomed stainless lifetime guarantee saucepans and bless them they look like they’ve endured a couple of lifetimes. I checked the welds and handles and the bases for signs of copper that may have come away. When I was satisfied with the soundness of the products I cleaned them to a shiny new finish. The same way silver is cleaned in the sink, with aluminum foil hot water and bicarbonate soda. No scratching and rubbing is needed. Just dry them with a soft cloth and the shine is lovely.

I went through all of my favorite pans in the same way except baking tins of course. I then separated them into two cupboards. Now my pots and pans look like someone care’s for them.

“Mom what are you flooding now?!”…I must have left the hose on in the garden… I got distracted.

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