May 13, 2007

The Silver Lining

Perhaps I have written too much on all the challenges I had faced in this process. Now would be a good time to talk about the "silver lining". For me, this was the excuse to go shopping for Kitchenware (well, actually for us it turned out to be the "stainless steel lining"- but maybe people with bigger budgets will enjoy a true "silver lining"). I will be writing about the benefits of keeping kosher as I discover them- I have already discovered a few- but this is particular post is about one benefit of the kashering process...

I love kitchen stuff. So I did my best to focus on the new stuff I was getting, and not the stuff I was giving away, or the more difficult things I had to do- such as replacing the perfectly fine high chair trays, or having the Boos butcher block cutting board sanded down (which was almost as expensive as the board itself!) These things are best done and forgotten, using skills of memory blocking developed in childhood.

Warning- this post is only going to interest people with a real love (obsession) with kitchenware. It lists everything I have bought in the process of kashering my kitchen. It also lists everything I could keep from my old kitchen. I have not listed everything I had to give away- I just summarize this quickly, because as I said, I am blocking that memory.

1. Two Sets of Daily Dishes

My daily dishes had been stoneware and had to go, so I needed daily meat and dairy dishes. I opted for service for 8 in two different patterns. I plan to extend what I have to service for 12 eventually, but this gave us a working set for now.

I went with china, and a pattern I really loved- very bright, vivid and cheery. This colored my experience, too. I am so glad I didn't skimp on the dishes and made them a pleasure to get. I felt like I was not just cleaning and kashering, but also freshening my kitchen with color, making this match and make sense.

As for my formal china, the Rabbi at the temple we had been attending said that we could keep it and just not use it for a year (which we have already done, since I have not used any of our china since well before my son was born).

2.Milk/Meat Flatware
It turns out I was able to keep anything that was solid, stainless steel (with no coatings). All I had to do was something like boiling them- called "hag'ala", which involves immersing them into boiling water for about 30 seconds, and following it up with a quick rinse.

I could use hag'ala for my stainless flatware- there was no wood, plastic or ceramic handles or anything- it was 100% stainless. I used my old set for meat, as I had matched it to my formal china which I plan on using that for meat when the time comes. I think most holidays will be meat meals, except Shavuot, and I am happy to use my daily dishes for this (they are very bright and cheery).

I bought an additional service for 8 in a very different pattern. The dairy is very plain, simple and elegant. The meat has stripes. The important thing is that one can distinguish them. Also, the new flatware didn't come with steak knives, which are unnecessary for my dairy set. I made sure to pick up a few new milk serving utensils as well.

3. Cooking Utensils

I could keep some of my utensils, but had many plastic spatulas and wooden spoons that had to go. I replaced specific cooking utensils in blue and red depending on what I thought I needed. I could gotten complete sets in black and red (offered by KitchenAid, I believe), but I didn't want anything extra that I didn't need due to my space constraints.

4. Pots and Pans

When I made my list, I was s till unsure of what I was able to keep. At that time, I had a call in to our local conservative rabbi, and was still waiting on a response. I wasn't sure if I could keep the 5 piece Calphon set or my roasting pan.

So, I decided to wait on buying replacements for these things. This was wise. I found out later from Chabad that I could kasher the 2 pots (used mostly to boil food), but not the 3 pans (which toughed the food directly). In fact, the Chabad rabbi kashered the pots for me.

He torched my All-Clad pan (no coating, a very durable steel). He warned me that they could get browned or damaged before torching them. My wonderful, loyal All-Clad pan didn't even blink at the blowtorch, and even the Chabad rabbi commented on what a great pan it was.

So, I ended up being able to keep 1 pan and 3 pots I already had. I also was able to keep several aluminum baking sheets after he torched them, and one aluminum bundt pan. I did have to give away all my non-stick baking pans, muffin tins, bundt pans, etc.

I had almost no other pots and pans or baking dishes left, so I had to think- how would I replace this stuff- what would I need? I decided to think of a couple of weeks worth of meals, and what pots and pans and utensils I would need for the 2 week period. I could add things in later as needed, and this would make for a smaller credit card bill for the month. I decided to save baking pans and such for my next billing cycle.

I made my All-Clad meat, because it browns things so beautifully, and makes for a great pan sauce. I needed to replace all my Pyrex cooking dishes with lids. I decided to get red Le Cruset cooking dishes - a large oval, and a smaller round one.

I needed to replace my lasagna dishes. One had been Pyrex, and one had been Corningware. I upgraded these to a round blue quiche dish, and a blue Le Crueset lasagna dish. I also needed a dairy frying pan for french toast, pancakes, crepes, cheese omelets- I got a large, blue Le Crueset cast-iron pan for this.

We were able to keep all of our glass, and use ha'gala on them. We have several glass serving dishes, small and large serving bowls. We needed plates and additional glasses (we pitched our tall plastic drinking cups, and I opted for simple glass tumblers from K-mart.

Serving Dishes
I also got a couple of inexpensive serving platters from Bed Bath and Beyond (I still have a Nambe I need to kasher- or find out if I can, it's upstairs). I got some nice dairy serving pieces in my daily dairy pattern.

Plastic Food Storage
Of course we got all new Tupperware. I sprung for real Tupperware and Rubbermaid food containers. I got the kind that could collapse, and

We replaced the coffee machine. Yeah, I know we probably didn't have to, but it was time for an upgrade as ours was "user hostile", as my husband put it.

The Big Shop
When it came time to go shopping, we took one day at the outlet mall near us, and then a few trips to Target and Bed Bath and Beyond. I kept everything wrapped up in the shopping bags, with their receipts, upstairs near my craft table. I can't imagine this part going this swiftly if we hadn't planned out what we needed to get with a list. Using the 2-weeks of meals as a guide really helped because I could get everything I needed in a couple of days and know I was set for a little while. It made it more manageable, both in terms of actually carrying the stuff home, and in terms of the credit card bill.

We still have many things left to get- baking pans of all kinds, a few more pots and pans, a few more gadgets- but we are making do (and have been) for about 6 weeks. It's amazing how many things can be used creatively, too. I just baked my Mother's Day brownies in the new quiche pan and they look terrific...


clkl said...

Great Post! Let the shopping games begin. Here are some links about kashering:

NJOP's How to Kasher a Kitchen

Lisa Stern's article at My Jewish Learning

The Quintessential Kashering Primer by the OU, hosted by Arlene J. Mathes-Scharf's excellent site is written about Pesach, but includes information about the different types of kashering needed year-round.

Hagalah by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt of article hosed at

DeisCane said...

Great post, but I was hoping for more detail on the china. Where are the links? Pics???

cwexl said...

Desicane- Thank you for the suggestion! I have posted my china patterns.