Have you read this Consumer Reports article about Pyrex dishes? To sum up: Newer glass cookware is made from a different (cheaper) type of glass that doesn’t withstand thermal shock as well as Grandma’s Pyrex dishes did. Also? Using damaged glass dishes, (meaning scratched or chipped) increases the danger of failure. (And by failure, they mean KERBLOOEY.)
I had never been told (or had completely forgotten) that you should never, ever, ever use Pyrex that is scratched or chipped to cook with. (I’m not sure what else one would use it for… paint palette? Paperweight? It’s not recyclable, so I guess someone is going to have to come up with a brilliant idea. Is it you? Please share.)
Look at what I’ve been using to cook dinner for my family for about… oh, the entire time I’ve had a family.
I know. This (or worse) could totally have happened to me:
So when KitchenAid sent me these ceramic casseroles (the Streamline Ceramic 1.9 quart, and the Nesting Ceramic 4 piece set) to test out in exchange for my honest and explosion-free feedback, I breathed a sigh of relief. Because one recommendation for avoiding the danger of glass failure is to use ceramic casseroles instead. So they are safer, number one. Number two: they are so pretty! And- guess what? These five dishes take up less room than my three old ones in my cabinets. Since I have a small, mid-century kitchen and two very destructive boys, shelf space is at a premium- especially up high for breakables. I know, we’re only a little way into this and I’ve already detailed at least two precautions I’ve taken against my children being injured by shattered cookery. The world is a dangerous place.
Since I’ve seen first hand how long-lived KitchenAid products are, I expect that these will outstrip their five year warranty by a lot. After all, the KitchenAid stand mixer that my mother bought when I was a kid- and which inspired the purchase of my own, beloved stand mixer- is still chugging along without a single hiccup. And considering how much my mother uses it, I’ve basically just told you that it will never die. I really like that the handle with the recessed bottom makes it easy to hang onto these casseroles. I have (soon will have to say, “used to have”) a set of ceramic casseroles that have two sizes with no handles and one size with very small, smooth handles. I am constantly afraid I will drop them on the way out of the oven. It’s just awkward to lift them when they are full of heavy food, and the last thing I want to do after I’ve prepared a delicious dish for my family is drop it and splatter it all over the kitchen. If I just want to get takeout, I don’t have to work that hard.
Now. You know I cannot just show you some pretty casserole dishes and call it a day. That would be like returning a borrowed plate without any cookies on it. (I’m not a complete barbarian. I may cut corners on party planning, but there are certain things that just don’t call for compromises.)
I was a vegetarian for over eight years, and I still have close family members who are vegetarian. All our family dinners go both ways- with vegetarian options and omnivorous ones. One of my biggest frustrations as a vegetarian cook is the fact that once you take Canned Cream of Something soup out of the equation, your easy, one dish, comfort meal options disappear. I personally like to create vegetarian casseroles that do well as the center dish or that coordinate with traditional holiday dishes, and this Cranberry Barley Casserole (with a vegan variation for my dairy free friends) would be delicious alongside your Thanksgiving feast.
- 2 shallots sliced thinly
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 cup pearl barley
- ½ cup lentils rinsed and picked over
- 2½ cups vegetable stock
- ½ cup unsweetened or low sugar dried cranberries
- ½ cup cheddar cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 and grease the inside of a 1.9 quart casserole dish with lid.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the shallots, fennel, sesame seeds, paprika, and garlic to the pan and sautee until the shallots are translucent. This only takes a couple of minutes.
- Add the barley and lentils. Stir until the contents are well mixed.
- Add the vegetable stock and bring to a low boil.
- Stir in cranberries and transfer to the casserole.
- Bake covered for 30 mintues.
- Remove cover, top with cheese, and bake for 15 more minutes.