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Sunday, 15 March 2015


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It's a funny universe. Neil Gaiman was interviewed with an audience, and a young girl said: "My teachers say we must always plan out carefully what we write, we may not wing it. What do you do?"
Gaiman answered: "I wing it."
A 2.5-year old girl, barely able to speak, but clearly precocious, asked him: "Do you ever have nightmares?" Big laughs, because his latest book then was Coraline, nightmare-like if anything is. Gaiman of course took her totally seriously, and answered that he used to, but when he was writing Sandman, taking place partly in the Dream Universe, he might have one and immediately think: 'hey, I can use this', and they stopped coming.

Mike: suspect the greatest personal advantage to you on the subject of moving home and house is that field
behind your residence. Long may it
be there, unspoiled, used as a grow
field to provide you numerous
images from what ever device you utilize, including the space between your ears.

Outfitting the kitchen, huh? I'll bet you took a peek at thesweethome.com, who came to the same recommendation as you (and your brother). That site and thewirecutter.com are the DPReview for the world outside of the gear closet...

I recommend a run to the IKEA in Schaumburg for kitchen stuff. Even if I could afford a Leica, I'd continue using my IKEA cookware.

Ralph Gibson has also published 'Brazil', which is mostly colour photographs (ISBN 88-89431-12-1)

I do not like All-Clad pans. They are OK for boiling water or making soup, but any time you really need to put *heat* into something the oil reacts with the metal and you get a weird sticky mess. Stainless steel is nice to look at but awful to cook in.

For me, cast iron, especially enameled cast iron, is far superior (Le Creuset make pots that will last *longer* than the Leicas).

Then get a nice non-stick pan for eggs. Or a plain steel pan if you know what you are doing.

In regards to the geese in the photo taken in your back yard, when they fly in a V formation, there is often one leg of the V which is longer than the other. There is a scientific reason for this: there are more geese on the longer side. ;<)

With best regards,


I must comment on pots. But I must first admit that I own only one truly good "pot" (it's actually a frying pan). The rest of the lot (those that aren't cast iron) are mediocre. A few perhaps not even.

Buying inexpensive or cheap pots is one of life's greatest false economies. One just has to close one's eyes and hand over the credit card for a full set of excellent pots like the All-Clads. They will provide you with decades of performance and pleasure in the kitchen.

There is pleasure in excellent things. As I think most of us here know.

I, for instance, own a perfectly useless number of bags and cases from Waterfield Design, SFbags.com. They are just so well thought through in every detail, and the higher end ones in leather are just "yummy". They like distressed leather and such, these are def not ladies' purses, though many ladies like them too.

I've bought so much from them that their head sales girl has asked me more than once to make a video showing it all off, but I'm frankly a little embarrassed.

Ralph Gibson did do at least one other book in color--"Brazil". It's available used and cheap on Amazon. It's okay but I much prefer Gibson's black and white work.

I haven't looked at my copy of "L'Histoire de France" in some time. It is situated in the middle of its shelf, it's the tallest book on the shelf and the shelf above it sags a bit due to being heavy with other photo books. "L'Histoire" is jammed in tight. I would have to remove everything from the shelf above to get to that one book and, as I stated previously, I really prefer Gibson's B&W work. It does have the distinction of supporting the considerable weight of Stephen Shore, Robert Adams, Sally Mann, William Christenberry, Emmett Gowin, Wim Wenders and Gary Winogrand (among a few others).

Still using my 1970s Revere Ware. Heck, still using some of my mother's 1950s Revere Ware.

And of course cast iron skillets in many sizes (and including a chicken fryer).

I have Magnalite Professional, which sadly isn't made anymore - but they had a good run; starting parent company Wagner birthed in the 1890's.
I'd recommend, for the money, the Kirkland Signature set of 18/10 Stainless cookware. I have a large saute that impressed me with it's quality and performance, so I got a full set for my young son when he moved out. Multiple moves (and co-chef girlfriends) and he has been unable to destroy them.

Much like the 'i-got-my-leica-when-they-were-pricey-but-not-crazy', I got my wife a 5 piece All-Clad set back when outlets were actually outlets. 11 years later, they're still almost new, and wonderful. BUT - our newer stuff is the Cuisinart you recommend, for the same reason.(And don't even get me started on Le Creuset - not quite the Hasselblad Lunar of cookware, but...)

I would wager strongly that the "field in back of your house" was shot with your iPhone.


So if All-Clad is the Leica, does that make your "very cheap, very old, very beat-up old non-stick thing with most of the non-sticky stuff worn away" the Correspondent?

Hey Mike,
If you're going to actually get into cooking, you'll probably be buying more stuff. If so, I suggest you start reading Cook's Illustrated. No ads, no BS, mostly recipes, but... also the most honest product reviews you'll ever read. Want to know about the actual best chef's knife? How long those 'non stick' fry pans are really going to be 'non stick' and so which should you buy, and so on. Very knowledgeable, they have a TV show if you like learning that way, and a web presence with access to back issues.

A best buy

Ray H.

Hi Mike,

I'm a little confused about which pot you actually bought, but I can say from owning one that the "Chef's Classic" pots may not be the better choice for one who wants to advance their cooking skills. (At least on a gas range--can't speak to other types.)

The more upscale line is "multiclad" (aluminum sandwiched between layers of steel) on the sides as well as the bottom, whereas the budget "Chef's Classic" line is "multiclad" only on the bottom, the sides being a thinner, single layer of steel.

I'm sure others will weigh in (no pun intended), but those with ambitions in the kitchen will likely be less frustrated with a heavier pan of more uniform construction (such as from the more upscale Cuisinart line), which will heat (and cool) more slowly, evenly, and consistently.

On the up side, that "stay-cool" handle really does resist getting hot.

If you really want the Leica of pots, go for Demeyere Atlantis, like this:


Note that this has a disc bottom but you get to choose what construction method your pan has depending on the process - multi-clad for sauces and frying pans, disc bottom for boiling - you really are invited to waste (sorry spend) a fortune!

Almost certainly not worth the money unless you cook by induction. Demeyere pots on an induction hob pretty much define cooking control.

Those Dentons certainly were good. In fact Peter Comeau is now the chief designer at International Audio Group. IAG now own Wharfedale, Mission, Quad, Audiolab and Castle and he has a hand in all of them as they are all made in the same factory.

Unfortunately these quintessentially British companies are now manufacturing in China thanks to IAG, albeit with British expertise. Very sad but that is the way of the manufacturing world now.

Mike, on the cookware front, there is a great set from Tamontina that is sold by Walmart (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Tramontina-8-Piece-Cookware-Set/5716478). I have had the Tramontina set for 6 years and my wife came into the marriage with a similar assortment of much more expensive all-clad. After cooking lots of meals on both, I've found the two to be interchangeable and functionally indistinguishable. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats came to the same conclusion after a some of experimentation (http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/08/equipment-the-all-clad-vs-tramontina-skillet.html).

It's not the complete collected works of Bill Jay, but there are some of his essays from his web site on the wayback machine.



It's not the right material for a saucepan, but no kitchen should be without a good cast iron skillet or three. I have a tiny one for over-medium eggs, and two larger skillets for bigger meals.

A cast iron dutch oven is a great choice also.


You might try TJMaxx for cookware. My late wife and I found Cuisinart and, even, AllClad there for a fraction of their regular prices.

I'm a Bill Jay fan. 85% of the essays in Occam's Razor (and a lot more) are available online- but you have to dig. Using the WayBack machine at Archive.org type in billjayonphotography.com When you get to the site you will find 2 pages of essays.

Re: pots and pans- well, I do cook and these Cuisinart and similarly constructed pans drive me nuts. That thick sandwich pad of metal on the bottom of the pan works well to disperse heat applied to the center of the pan, but creates a ring-shaped hot spot circling the edge of the pan if you use it on any burner as large or larger than the pan itself. This includes basically all gas stoves. Admittedly, it isn't much of a problem with the kinds of things you are likely to use a 3 quart sauce pan for since that's mainly boiling water. But if you like to simmer sauce or thick soup or chili for long periods of time, the design makes that difficult. Personally, my favorite pans are all enameled cast-iron like le creuset. But I vastly prefer even cheap aluminum cookware to anything with that uneven thickness across the bottom of the pan. For anyone near a reasonably sized city, there's bound to be a restaurant supply store that can set you up for life for a decent price. And those stores never sell this kind of pan.

Mrs Plews and I got a set of Cuisinart multi-clad cookware as a wedding gift in 1980. They are still working just fine. They are very well built and clean right up.
For non-cooking types it's important to remember that there are some recipes that just can't be done on non-stick cookware. No fond, no flavor.

I just received the Michael Kenna book today. It is beautifully printed and brings together his best French photos in one beautiful book. It is very big and heavy due to the lovely thick stock and solid binding. If you like Kenna or France it is a keeper. I will go through it much more slowly in the next months.

Those old Cuisinart pans had copper sandwiched in at the bottom. These days I think you need to go to Sitram Catering or Demeyere for that. There's a couple of interesting articles at http://forums.egullet.org/topic/25717-understanding-stovetop-cookware/ and http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/120/Common-Materials-of-Cookware I got my mother a couple of the Woll Saphir Lite fry pans (via Amazon.de), and the combination of comparatively light weight and hard-to-damage non-stick sapphire particle coating has served her well.

On pots and pans.

My wife and cook and bake extensively

We have both been chefs.

Yes your idea is still the best. One Pot one Pan one Year. Find yourself a non-stick frying pan to go with your pot and use them both for a year. By that time you'll have a good idea of how and what you cook, and what you'll need.

Ultimately you should end up with;
1-2 All-Clad
1-2 Cast Iron (Lodge or Griswold)
1 inexpensive, but heavy, non-stick frying pan that you can beat the daylights out of.
1 small saucepan.

Your cookware should be able to go from the cook top to a 400 degree oven and back out. And be able to hang out on the grill.

Don't buy sets.

For cookie sheets buy 1/2 size commercial sheet pans and Sil-Eco or ExoPat liners.

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