raucous brothers

Mid-Century Revere Ware 10″ skillet

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Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 8.46.45 AMAHH, THE CRACKLE OF BACON.  Butter, hitting the right temperature to snap and foam!   Then in go the eggs!   The basics of an American Breakfast.

As a three-year old, sitting on the floor for hours in a kitchen identical to Julia Child’s The French Chef set, these were the sounds I heard.  And revisiting her shows years later, I began to appreciate the nuances of temperature, time, and cooking surface.

When my best teflon pan gave up the ghost, I researched All-Clad selections, convinced technology had trumped tradition.  Investigations cast doubt, however, upon my preconceptions!  The buying decision was even more tempered with caution and eventually placed on hiatus.

paul toungeAlong came a fortunate Dumpster® find, as a friend’s childhood abode was being cleared out for the next owner.  I had scored a nice stack of 1950’s-era Revere Ware, as detailed here in a previous blog entry.

The pile was stored in an apple crate.  A piece found use as a water bowl for our cat, some smaller pots went to neighbors, but the skillet?  The skillet I retained, beheld by the rich history of its patina and a promise of potential magic.  I saw value, but was unsure how to harness its powers.

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 8.46.31 AMOnly after repeated frustrations with our remaining daily-use skillet did I retrieve the old 10″ Revere Ware skillet from the crate, wash it thoroughly, and give it a try.  Wow, first use with a grilled cheese, and the butter burned.  O.K., it heats up really fast, but it was even. All of the stove’s potential made it to the cook surface.  Then I tried eggs, and again burned the butter.  Third time’s the charm.  I’ve found a perfect pan.  Nothing sticks to the decade’s old stainless interior, and the copper bottom spreads heat as well as it did in 1955, when purchased.

This pan should be a basic tool of anyone learning to cook, as well as a must-have for the experienced chef. About $5 at a garage sale near you, or $25 through online auctions.

Hidden Gems of Old City – Part I

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509px-Christ_Church_Philadelphia_1876

paul kearsley 2009 by jim sergovicPAUL KEARSLEY, DIRECT descendant of mid-1700s builder & architect Dr. John Kearsley*,  said to me a while back, “Hey, Woodman, what’s with the tile mosaic in the coffee shop bathroom?”  We had just enjoyed a private tour of Christ Church, at one time the most sumptuous church in the colonies, as well as the tallest structure in North America.  And now, down the street, we find ourselves in  Old City Coffee, where he noted the dual tourist-friendly customer washrooms, one of which sported a cut-tile mosaic.  While not exactly in the style of Isaiah Zagar, clearly there was an influence.  

tile closeup

Zagar made a name for himself throughout the 1960s onward as the premier cracked-tile mosaic artist, covering vast areas with his images. This bathroom mosaic was different. The tile was cut and arranged into a private story, the interpretation being at the sole discretion of the viewer.  The key word here is cut, as in sliced on a wet-saw.  Someone put a lot of work into it.

When walking through the area years later, I noted a tasteful renovation had rendered the  bathroom to an employees-only area.  Thus, this mosaic qualifies for Hidden Treasure status.  The creator is rumored to be a wanna-be-artist plumber.

*** Paul Kearsley’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granduncle was  Dr. John Kearsley, the architect/builder of Christ Church.  But, disappointingly, the Doctor didn’t get the commission for Independence Hall, narrowly losing out to a design by Edmund Woolley and Andrew Hamilton.     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Hall