Monday, June 28, 2010

Omelets: the Guardian Service Duplex Pan

When I first posted about making an omelet in the Guardian Service "Duplex Utility" Pan, I detailed every micro–step, following as best I could the cryptic instructions in the original recipe pamphlet I'd finally tracked down through an dealer online.

I've cracked a few dozen eggs since then and simplified my method.

The heat is what's crucial: too hot and the butter will scorch, not hot enough and the eggs will stick, then burn. If in doubt, try the "water test" which I've written about in previous blogs here and here (when the aluminum reaches the perfect "non-stick" temperature, a bit of cold water poured on the cooking surface will dance like little glass marbles). Cooked at the proper heat, the omelet will sear quickly, pulling away from the edges and sliding easily out of this handy pan. Who needs Teflon?

I often see this unit described as an omelet pan or fish poacher, but it's designed to be a quick preparation pan with multiple functions:
"A handy unit with a score or more wonderful uses... that's the DUPLEX UTILITY PAN. It fries omelets, liver and bacon and chopped steak. It bakes man-pleasin' meat loaf, loaf cake, quick breads and hot biscuits top-stove without an oven. it's your first aid for "dolling up" left–overs... for preparing "quickie" meals in a jiffy with canned foods. It prepares two foods at the same time over a single burner so it's a fuel saver. And, there's only one unit to wash!"

Guardian Service Omelet
4 eggs
4 Tbsp cold water or milk (optional, for a fuller, lighter omelet)
1 Tbsp butter
salt, pepper, herbs, cheeses, fillings to taste
  1. Heat the closed Duplex Pan over medium for about 5 minutes, alternating sides.
  2. Open, center one half over the burner, add butter and coat the pan quickly and evenly.
  3. Add the egg mixture and cook until egg peels away from the edges of the pan.
  4. Add fillings (optional).
  5. Shift pan so the empty half is over the burner. Coat with butter.
  6. Close pan quickly, hold handles together tightly and flip the pan to finish browning flip side.

A proper omelet: fluffy and ready to slide out of the pan.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Coffee, the Guardian Service Way

We found the coffee pot, caked with dust, in one of those about-to-close antique shops that seem to fade in and out of existence. The stacked shelves and darkened aisles were laden with a lifetime's acquisitions (or its remaining shards) and the stepdaughter of the dead proprietress was anxious to part with anything for about ten bucks.

I picked up the weighty-looking urn, surprised by how relatively light it was, turned it over and saw the embossed logo: a knight's helmet and the words "Guardian Service." We brought it home, polished it up and Aladdin-like, the djinni of our mid-century cookware obsession was unleashed, inspiring a deeper food philosophy and eventually this blog.

While passionate about savoring a proper cup of coffee brewed the Guardian Service Way, I admit that most mornings I grope my way to the kitchen and switch on the automatic Krups, more interested in hastening its effect than enjoying its flavor. But on slow mornings or with "farmhouse breakfasts," this method brings out a deep range of scents and flavors and makes one toothsome cup of Joe.

The complete Coffee Maker/Beverage Urn has five pieces total: the Beverage Urn and lid (as with all Guardian Service ware, the pre-War models had metal lids which were later replaced by glass) and the "Dripper" unit (with filter and water distributor). You'll also need a separate kettle in which to boil the water.

From Betty Gay's "Guardian Service Tested Recipes," the proper method for making coffee in the Guardian Service Ware Coffee Maker:

Guardian Coffee
"Served piping hot to the last delicious drop... a happy ending to any meal."

"You've heard the one about coffee—How one morning it's strong enough to stand alone and the next morning too weak to get up. Not so, when prepared the Guardian Way, for coffee clear, sparkling and full of the natural aroma of the roasted bean will be yours every time. Your Guardian Service Coffee Maker and Beverage Urn prepares coffee by a method that science is proving most satisfactory for flavor, health and economy. It is graceful in design and so convenient for service coffee, as well as other hot and cold beverages at the table."

"Guardian Consistently Good Coffee"

  1. Heat the beverage urn by rinsing with hot water.
  2. Place dripper in top of urn and put filter disc with seam side down in bottom of dripper.
  3. Measure into dripper, 2 teaspoons (1 level tablespoon, if a richer flavor is desired) of standard or drip grind coffee per cup. Do not use pulverized coffee*.
  4. Place water distributor over coffee, pressing down firmly but not tight.
  5. Pour in actively boiling water to desired measure. Use fresh cold water brought to a rolling boil. (Dripper is marked 2–4–6–8 cups.) For ten cups, measure proper amount of coffee in dripper, add eight cups of boiling water and when filtered thru, add 2 cups clear boiling water and mix.
  6. Cover and place over very low heat or on warm part of stove. Allow about 1 minute per cup for coffee to drip.
  7. When coffee has dripped thru, remove dripper, place cover on urn, adjusting cover with long flange in front of spout to retain heat.

Note: When using urn for table service, place a mat or table tile underneath to protect table from heat. Use Guardian Urn for various iced drinks. During the summer weather especially, the Guardian Urn will do double duty as a beverage pitcher. It acts as a "thermos" container for cold drinks as well as hot.

Iced Coffee: Prepare coffee double strength, cool to room temperature, Fill tall glasses half full of cracked ice or use 2 ice cubes. Pour coffee into glasses. Serve with cream, pass sugar syrup in a pitcher for sweetening (a spoon of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream in each glass is a welcome addition).

*Some espresso grinds may work, but pulverized varieties like Turkish or Greek coffee may leave a gritty finish.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Nutrition vs. Processed Food

Michele Simon recently wrote an article for about the challenges facing Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative to fight obesity. One of the biggest players in the Food Industry (PepsiCo) was first to claim support of the initiative and is looking for ways to make processed food "healthier." Simon sums up their dilemma:

"The company's problem comes down to this: PepsiCo makes processed food, which is no basis for proper diet in any culture. Nature provides true nourishment in the form of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and no corporate mantra can improve on that."
The complete article (here) details how PepsiCo's product lines are divided into three categories ranging from, "Good–for–you" to "Better–for–you" to "Fun–for–you." All in all, a compelling argument for the home cooked meal.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Guardian Service Artifact: 1947 Advertisement

This full page ad (Better Homes and Gardens, June, 1947) features the complete line of Guardian Service Ware. Like much of the company's advertising copy, this ad stresses the cookware's stove to table "dual-purpose" design, but also its fuel economy and nutritional preservation ("Low heat top–of–stove cooking minimizes food shrinkage, insures greater savings of vitamins and minerals"). The model hostess is attractive but stolid (no gingham and frills here), a "practical–minded homemaker" who "wouldn't be without it."

We couldn't agree more.