Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Back in the day, when I was a newlywed, a few pieces of Corning bake ware came my way. At that time, Corning was fond of putting its famous “cornflower” design on its otherwise plain white cookware, and I was never a fan of that silly little flower. I guess Mike’s ex-wife wasn’t a fan either because I found several pieces in his cupboard when I took over the kitchen. And we gained several others as wedding gifts.

My upbringing taught that I should use what I have, respecting the giver’s gift, and not complain or replace. Mother’s kitchen was a hodge-podge of this and that, and I suspect this was true of many kitchens of the mid-century era. Mother valued each piece for its specific purpose and how she came to own it. She added new bake ware seldom and when she did, she didn’t get rid of the old. She also didn’t think in terms of matching pieces. It’s hard for me to realize that I might actually have a kitchen of wonderful things that I love instead of mismatched pieces.

To this day I still use some “cornflower” casserole dishes. I also regularly use avocado green bowls from the same era. You know what they say – the longer you keep it, the harder it is to get rid of it. Sometimes when I examine my mostly valueless stuff, I hear Mike or Frank of American Pickers asking, “Is that something you could part with, Kathy?” To add to my dilemma, I know if I take my “cornflower” pieces to the rummage sale, they will be purchased immediately, along with old Tupperware.

A month or so ago, Chris posted a picture of her pretty loaves of bread in Corning bread pans. Those sturdy pans caught my eye because mine are – well, not so nice. I confess that the last ones I bought came from the dollar store. Chris and I spoke briefly about the cornflower design. I think she said she had gotten rid of much of her “cornflower” but kept these nice bread pans. To me, the design is not so distasteful on pans that aren’t apt to be set on the table.

Until I went to make some pre-holiday “Chex Mix” at the farmhouse, I had forgotten all about this very nice Corning roasting pan, similar in design to Chris’ bread pans. This pan, one of the rare late additions my mother made to her kitchen collection, is the perfect size for so many uses, from Chex mix to roasting a turkey. Mother gave it to me because I agreed to roast the Thanksgiving turkey when she moved from the family home.

Looking at today’s Corning Ware, I guess Corning got the message – probably years ago -- because the casseroles and pans are still available but now without the design and called “French White.” I like it. Perhaps I’ll find my way to matching cook ware yet. KW

We may live without poetry, music and art,
We may live without conscience and live without heart,
We may live without friends, we may live without books,
But civilized man cannot live without cooks.
  From The Enterprising Housekeeper, 1906


drMolly, the BeanQueen said...

'matching-smatching' I just want things that work the way they were intended to work. All of my bakeware & ovenware is mismatched, but then I never was one to fit those molds, LOL.

Kathy said...

"Matching" isn't exactly the issue, I think. It's having things in the kitchen that I enjoy using.

Chris said...

I like my table dishes to go together. The cornflower casseroles didn't. As you said, Kathy, they're fine for oven use, and work well for that purpose; I just don't want them on the table as they don't "blend" well. I have casserole dishes and bakers that do match my dishes and they make me happy. :-)

Over the years I have purchased wonderful new pots and pans, and they have truly made cooking easier and cleanup much nicer. They're heavy, have nice interior finishes, and I love them, too. I have big and little, and it's lovely to have pots big enough for masses of soup (which always gets better with age), and small pans just right for making cream sauces to use instead of soups.

We spend a lot of time in our kitchens and having just the right tools can make the work fun instead of a drudge.

Chris said...

Oh, and I forgot to say, "Chex Mix!!! I love Chex Mix!! Mmmmm...." :-)

Kathy said...

I need to replace a few pieces, and I think I should do that methodically rather than picking them up here and there.

There are all kinds of Chex mix recipes at the Chex site. We've always used the original. (Note to self: one batch of Chex mix was not enough this year.)

Hallie said...

Chex mix is so addicting!!!

Leah said...

Somehow I missed the original blue cornflower Corningware. I had all the necessary pots & pans (p&p) & casseroles in the 1960's. Buying new p&p "just because" wasn't a good reason to add Corningware to my kitchen. The originals per Wikipedia were born in 1958. I asked for & received (for Xmas), in the late 60's, a set of 3 or 4 corning ware casseroles . They were round and avocado (Av) color around the entire outside. Since they were round, and the originals were square/oblong, this was cutting edge. Time went on and I loved to bake things in these "fashionable" dishes.

Time went further on and I bought a new house in 1972 that had Av carpet, floor tile, counter tops, appliances, EVERYTHING. My everyday dishes were even richly glazed Av. Time went even further on and I sold the house. One day, I saw all the Av things in my kitchen & wondered, "What was I thinking?" Av is such an ugly color. Why didn't we have a lovely sage or mint green during that era? It was almost like crowd mania when everyone jumped on the Av bandwagon. I started giving away the Av things (Goodwill, friends) in the early 80's and the Corningware was the last to go. The Av color on the sides was scratched and faded. They all went to Goodwill.

My next corningware dishes were square & all fairly small casserole type pieces. Some are plain and some have 3 color vegetable design (Spice O' Life pattern). One time at a pot luck someone had a lovely square piece that had pastel shades of pink & blue flowers (Pastel Bouquet pattern). I loved that design! Soon after, I found one just like the one at the potluck. This can grace any table. And I never did get any of the blue cornflower, even though my kitchen colors are blue & white today.

Do you thinkthe Corningware cornflower is in the Smithsonian?

P.S. My 1st recipe for Chex Mix gave directions for mixing it in a large brown paper grocery bag. That was obviously sans oven.