I like to cook. Organizing and laying out ingredients in order of use helps me organize my thoughts. It also helps me quiet all the rest of the stuff going on in my brain long enough to reflect on things that might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
As I was browning meat for my special lasagna the other day in preparation for a visit from my dear sister-in-law, I started thinking about family, traditions, and meals cooked with love. Then suddenly, as silly as it may seem in comparison, it occurred to me how much I love the pan I was using.
I call the pan Big Blue. It is the only cooking utensil we have that has a name. The big blue frying pan had been a wedding present to my parents and is years older than me. It was passed down to me many moons ago when my parents did a kitchen upgrade and I moved into my first apartment.
Big Blue has certainly seen better days. Its bottom is a little warped. Nearly forty years worth of burn marks and stains mar the outside and make me wonder how bright the blue had been when the pan was new. The lid is missing its handle. Of course, we still use the lid. We just use a fork and an oven mitt to maneuver it.
In spite of all its dings, dents, and aesthetic shortcomings, it’s still often times the best pan for the job. No, I wouldn’t want to make an omelet in it, but it’s perfect for dishes like beef stroganoff, mashed potato pancakes, and—if I’m really flipping off my diet—fried chicken.
Big Blue is deep and weighs a ton. If it’s filled with sauce, I have to use two hands to hold it even remotely steady. And washing it—ugh! I don’t even want to think about that.
What I love to think about is all the meals over the years that had been prepared with love and care in that pan. My mother taught me to make beef stroganoff in it. I use it to make my meat sauce for my special lasagna. The first meal I ever made for my husband (while we were still dating) was made using Big Blue.
That pan made the food that made the memories. “Better”, lighter weight and non-stick coated pans will come and go—and they do. But I’ll never give up Big Blue.