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Glamorous Glass

January 23, 2010

So, there’s been a lot of talk in the food blogosphere (and elsewhere) about the FDA’s recent report on BPA in plastic. Bisphenol A (BPA) is apparently an endocrine interrupter that could have a role in many of our modern health problems and diseases, is in everything, but particularly in hard, clear plastics and the linings of canned goods. Acid foods are apparently more likely to make BPA leach out of packaging. That means tomatoes.

This sucks. I love canned tomatoes and I use them in a LOT of my cooking. *sigh* The boy and I ran across what we thought was a steal of a deal on a little cottage. One bedroom, fireplace, deck, washer and dryer, and room for a garden. Cottage, right? Wrong. It was an apartment. But before we found that out, I was dreaming about the garden I would grow.

I recently read This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader by Joan Dye Grussow, and it was great. I’m also reading Edna Lewis’ classic book, The Taste of Country Cooking. It really makes me want to try my hand at gardening.

Here’s what I’d plant the first year: tomatoes, basil, green beans, zucchini, kale or collards, green onions, and rhubarb. All pretty easy (except tomatoes) to get growing and all high-producing. Eventually I’d like to grown enough food (a la Joann) to make it easy not to buy veggies in the store. Especially with BPA being apparently in everything, I’d like to can my own tomatoes. Although maybe we’ll see tomatoes being canned in glass more often now.

I love glass as a cooking medium. Glass and metal. Did you know that enamel is really a kind of glass that has been fused to cast iron or stainless steel? Ceramic/clay is also nice. Plastic is awful. Especially in the microwave. Despite what Paula Deen and many other cooks/chefs/writers of cookbooks may tell you, for the love of god, DO NOT MICROWAVE PLASTIC WRAP! Just don’t. Don’t do hard plastics, either. Plastic is made out of petroleum. Do you want to eat petroleum? Then don’t heat up plastic. Melamine either.

Glass is inert. Stainless steel is pretty inert, too. And you know what? Both are pretty recyclable. Glass containers can get a bit expensive, though, so here are some tips to build up a collection:

  • Save those jam, jelly, and sauce jars, and not just the canning ones! Wash them out well, sterilize them in the oven (if you want, I don’t). Use them to store dry goods like homemade breadcrumbs and croutons, rice, dry beans, etc. Or fill them with leftovers, homemade jams and sauces that you’re going to use soon, or use the small jam jars to take cottage cheese, yoghurt, or apple sauce to work or school.
  • Shop thrift stores for classic pyrex bakeware and storage containers, old canning jars, etc.
  • Save those glass juice and tea bottles (wide-mouth only) and wash them thoroughly. They are convenient for bringing beverages like milk, juice, or water on picnics, packed lunches, etc. You can save money by buying in bulk and save trash by not buying plastic and by reusing glass.
  • Be gentle with your glass! Broken, cracked, and chipped glass is a waste. If you are careful to begin with, your glass will last for a long, long time.

I love glass. I love vintage glass, too. The other day at the Hidden Barn (best antique shop EVER!) I bought a pair of small, matching, turquoise Pyrex glass mixing bowls for $10. For the pair. They were $5 each. Amazing! They are the perfect size – larger than a cereal bowl, deeper than a soup bowl, but smaller than even my largest of mixing bowls. Perfect for mixing up ingredients that need to be mixed separately and/or for beating eggs. I love them.

I also love milk glass. We might head up to the boy’s parents’ place next weekend (he needs a haircut and doesn’t trust downstate stylists and my car badly needs an oil change) so I’m hoping to hit the vintage shops there and pick up some more cheap milk glass. I need another vase, I’ve decided, and they have them there (nice ones, not fugly ’70s bud vases) for around $1! I love glass. : )

I was thinking the other night about how nice and unbreakable Corell dishware is. The boy is often none to gentle on dishware. BUT! I don’t like the styles and colors they have and it’s too thin. So I had a little daydream about writing them and asking them to reproduce jadite, milk glass, and azurite colors in heavier Corell! Wouldn’t that be fabulous?

Or Anchor-Hocking could bring back all the pretty colored glass dishware. *sigh* Modern dishes are so ugly and the fancy expensive kinds are too pretentious. Those old-timers knew what they were talking about!

And now it’s time to go get ready for the day. I’m loving working on this interpretive plan (I think I finally found my true calling! Lol…) and we’re doing an walk-through one of the buildings to brainstorm about an exhibit. Should be pretty fun!

P.S. It’s a clear, sunny day out today and I’m cheerful. Today is going to be fun!

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