Odd Fridays – “Other Cool Stuff”

This week’s Odd Friday offering falls into the category of “Other Cool Stuff.” In our opinion, this item is a “Must-Have” – unless you have the ideal outdoor kitchen, of course. In Fairbanks, Alaska, where winter is really dark and temperatures reach -40 F on a fairly regular basis (which my scientist husband informs me is about the same as -40 C) I struggle to imagine the perfect outdoor kitchen that would allow year round use. During our “Managers Specials” post earlier this week we mentioned our Calphalon grill pan. We absolutely love it. There are many nights when, for various reasons – bone-numbing cold, pouring rain, dense clouds of mosquitoes, the acrid haze of a nearby forest fire – we are less inclined to grill outdoors. It isn’t as if we’re complete wusses. Jon once stood in a hail storm and grilled burgers and brats and chicken for a houseful of his own birthday guests.

Although there are those who might still judge us – my own mother suggested we should just brush the snow off and get on with it – for many, there is no outdoor grilling option. Whether you live in an apartment or town home – whatever curtails your abilities, this is an ideal solution.

Our Calphalon grill pan gives us a great deal of flexibility, which is why we enjoy it so much. Whether steak or chicken or pork or fish, we have managed to successfully grill all of these items and had them turn out perfectly. The only thing that they could have done to make it better would have been to design a lid for it. We managed to find the next best thing – a double sized grill weight that was designed to allow you to grill two steaks, side by side. This fabulous contraption helps to retain heat and moisture so that things cook completely and evenly and don’t dry out in the process. One must remember, however, to allow meats to rest and reabsorb their moisture just like when you’re using a regular grill or broiler.

Here I have to give another plug to my friend Leonard and his lovely wife, Christine. They own the local kitchen store here in Fairbanks – the “Country Kitchen” – where you can find all of the wonderful kitchen gadgets that the regular stores don’t carry.

You might wonder why we’re so in love with our Calphalon – surely there are other grill pans? The answer here, of course, is yes. In fact, we actually have another one, but as it has no non-stick coating (what was that chef/designer thinking?!?) the food sticks terribly no matter what surface preparations you make, and the clean-up is an atrocious chore. I mean, I like my stainless steel pans to look clean when I hang them on the pot rack. I was losing sleep…literally. This pan’s one saving grace, and the reason that we haven’t thrown it away, is that it has a lid.

In addition, there are cast iron grill pans, and although I love my other cast iron cookware, I’ve never tried one of those; they appear to have a non-stick coating and might be fairly versatile. Regardless, I urge you to try an indoor grilling pan of some sort. Expand your cooking options and experiment with new, healthier choices.

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