Q My husband haunts thrift stores for premium kitchen equipment that he buys on the cheap. He came home with a lovely copper saucepan. It is marked Melawa Holland, has a flat bottom, gently curved sides and an open top, measuring about 4 1/2 inches. It seems unlined. How would I use a pot like this in cooking? Is it OK that it is not lined?
A What a gem you've got. Maybe your husband and I have bumped into each other; I haunt thrift shops and sales for equipment, too.
The story with your copper pot is that you can use unlined copper for sugar syrup, but not much else. Copper reacts with foods and can be toxic.
Dutch copper is often thin with brass handles, which pick up the pot's heat and can be dangerous. In the best of all possible worlds, copper is about 3/8-inch thick, lined in stainless steel and has iron handles.
But your little pot is a find for heating maple syrup, boiling sugar for caramel or French butter-cream frostings, and for making the base for spicy, homemade ginger ale.
Q A while ago, I was in Mount Horeb, Wis., and found the Mustard Museum. What an eye opener: Who knew that many mustards existed?
Work has me traveling all over the country, and checking out food museums would be a great way to use an hour's break. Searching online about each of my destinations has helped, but it's too time-consuming. Is there a listing somewhere?
A What a great way to relax on a business trip. Nothing can take your mind off a merger like, maybe, International Pickle Day at New York City's Food Museum or a stroll through the hallowed halls of the Jell-O Museum in LeRoy, N.Y.
The place to go for a list of museums here and around the world is food historian Sandy Oliver's site, Food History News (www.foodhistorynews.com/directory.html). Here, you'll find a directory.
At ChowHound.com, you'll find a list of "Food Museums Worth Stopping For." For the loopy and the intriguing, check out www.chow.com/stories/10704. Do not miss the International Vinegar Museum in Roslyn, S.D., run by one of our favorite interviewees, Lawrence Diggs. What Mount Horeb is to mustard, Roslyn is to vinegar.
Q You talk about bread salads, and they sound like they'd be good for inexpensive entertaining. Can you give a recipe to get me rolling?
A This is one kind of bread salad that works especially well for lots of people -- especially on the Saturday night after you've hit the morning's farmers market. Do the slices ahead, prep the salad ingredients and pull everything together when you want to serve.
Anytime you get a tomato near some form of yeasted wheat, you could bend the rules of tradition and call it "pizza." One caution: Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients. They come together quickly and easily. Certainly add and subtract flavors as the spirit moves you.
Lynne Rossetto Kasper hosts "The Splendid Table," American Public Media's radio food show, and is coauthor of "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper: Recipes, Stories and Opinions." Reach her at splendidtable.org.
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