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Today’s Pyrex and Corning Ware Haul

8 Jun

I went to a local consignment shop today. The owner acts as a middleman for the many different dealers who sell under its roof. He also sells their stuff for them on eBay – just like the “We Sell Your Stuff on eBay” store Katherine Keeler’s character ran in Forty Year Old Virgin. The store had a fair amount of Pyrex, but prices were all over the place. I purchased a few choice items and left behind the overpriced pieces.

None of the prices were exactly bargains, compared to thrift stores. Still, I managed to get a complete set of four Pyrex Cinderella nesting bowls in the Shenandoah pattern (above and below) for less than one dealer was asking for a large Pyrex mixing bowl alone.

I also found a Pyrex turquoise covered casserole with clear lid with scroll design. I don’t know if this piece has an actual name. Searches for it on Pyrex blogs and etsy reveal identical items but no one has a name for the pattern.

I also found two Corning Ware Avocado Round casserole dishes. The larger one is missing its cover, but it would make the perfect mac and cheese dish.

And last but not least, I found two more Pyrex mixing bowls. The small Butterfly Gold 1 pint bowl is in excellent condition, the Spring Blossom/Crazy Daisy Cinderella bowl, not so much. It’s faded and a little scratched, but I have a few other pieces of Spring Blossom so I couldn’t pass it up.

The grand total for all of these items was just under $50. It’s more than I would have liked to pay, since I can often get Pyrex for much cheaper at thrift stores, but I really wanted to add these items to my collection. And as luck would have it, the lady in line behind me at the checkout counter told me about a yard sale she and four other families on her street are having tomorrow. She said there will be lots of housewares. I know what my plans for tomorrow are.

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Au Gratin Potatoes, Mac and Cheese, and Corningware

27 May

If you were a child of the Seventies like I was, chances are your mom cooked with Corningware Blue Cornflower cookware. These glass and enamelware dishes and pots were ubiquitous in the Seventies. It was produced betwen 1958 and 1987, and practically every household had them.

My mom cooked Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes in the casserole dish. She and my dad made their morning coffee in the Blue Cornflower percolator. That familiar percolating sound greeted me every morning as I came down for breakfast before going off to school. My mom actually used that percolator up until the early 2000s for Christmas breakfast, when she needed to make more coffee than her 8-cup Mr. Coffee machine would allow. It would probably still work if she plugged it in today. Because if the world were destroyed by a nuclear bomb, only cockroaches and Corningware would survive.

Ad for Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes, 1965. My mother must have seen this ad, because she always served Betty’s Au Gratin potatoes with hot dogs.

One particularly “Seventies” piece of Corningware that my mom had was the Blue Cornflower electric frying pan. It looked like a large, shallow square casserole dish with handles. It set into a base that acted as a hot plate. When it was plugged in it would heat up the dish and you could cook in it, then take the dish off the base and set it on the dinner table. My mom always used it to make beef stroganoff and stuffed veal birds – two particularly Seventies dishes that you don’t see much of these days. We used to have them all the time when I was growing up, but even my mom hasn’t made them in thirty years.

My mom also used her blue cornflower casserole dish to make macaroni and cheese. And no one made mac and cheese better than my mom. When I try to make it myself, it just doesn’t taste as good as hers. She got the recipe off the side of a Ronzoni macaroni box. Here it is:

    1 lb. box of Ronzoni elbows #35
    4 cups sharp cheddar cheese – shredded
    3 tablespoons butter
    4 tablespoons flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    3-1/2 cups hot milk
    1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs

    Cook macaroni as directed on side panel of box. Melt butter in saucepan, blend in flour, salt, and pepper. Add hot milk, simmer 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 3-1/2 cups of cheese, stir until smooth. Combine drained macaroni with sauce in buttered baking dish. Top with 1/2 cup of cheese and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs. Bake uncovered in 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

I’ve tried lightening it up with skim milk and low-fat cheese, but it doesn’t work. Skim milk just isn’t as creamy as whole milk, and low-fat or fat-free cheese doesn’t melt properly. The oil in low-fat cheeses separates and the cheese sauce becomes a congealed mess. So I bite the bullet and make it the way my mom made it. She still makes it this way when I go to her house for dinner. That first bite always reminds me of my childhood.

What retro items from your childhood do you collect? And if anybody knows a good low-fat macaroni and cheese recipe, I’d love to know.

Corningware ad from the late 60s. The coffee percolator and the electric frying pan that my mom had can be seen in front of the lady.