Friday, April 5, 2013

Retro Green Leftovers

At the estate sale, the covered dishes sit inside a cupboard, or they're displayed for sale on a dining room table or kitchen cabinet.  Sometimes clear, sometimes brightly colored, sometimes so scuffed that the color is faded, they represent the leftovers from many, many, many family meals over a period of years or even decades. 

I love them.

The small and medium-sized covered bowls I found at a recent estate sale were made by Pyrex, a division of Corning Incorporated that started in 1915.   (Glass bowls labeled Pyrex are still being made, licensed by other companies.)  The glass in the older bowls is technically called "borosilicate glass," and has certain properties that make it heat-resistant.  My online research brought up an article that said, "Pyrex borosilicate glass is often the material of choice for reflective optics in astronomy applications. The California Institute of Techology's 200-inch (5.1 m) telescope mirror at  Palomar Observatory was cast by Corning during 1934–1936 out of borosilicate glass."

(That makes me want to go look through one of the clear glass lids to see if it magnifies the object on the other side.)

Nowadays, if you buy a glass dish to store things in the refrigerator, it's likely to come with a colored flexible tight plastic lid, rather than a clear glass lid.  The seal is certainly tighter on the plastic lid, but it lacks the charm and classic design of the older version. 

The most interesting thing about these glass dishes was that, at the same sale, I found a magazine from the early 1950s that the previous owner had saved, that had an ad for the same set of dishes.

(I see now that I need to find the yellow covered dish so I can have the whole set.)  There, on the lower right, were the some of the covered dishes she bought -- or got for Christmas, as the advertisement suggests:

$2.95 for a set of four, in 1951-52.  And the same price for the set of mixing bowls (which I found at another sale). 

These sturdy little covered bowls can go from oven to refrigerator and back again, without missing a beat as long as you let them cool off or warm up before exposing them to great temperature extremes.  They're even microwavable.   You can re-use them again and again.  They were "green" before the concept of "reduce/reuse/recycle" was ever formulated.  It just made sense to keep your leftover food in a dish you could see into, in the 'fridge. 

Now that I have the dishes, I'll have to cook something -- a recipe that always produces leftovers.  Perhaps I'll make's Mom's recipe for what she called Chalupas -- but in reality is a variation on a theme of pork and beans.  Literally.

* 3 pound pork butt roast, or combination of ham and pork shoulder totaling about 3 pounds.
* 1 pound dried pinto beans
 -- A) Either soak the beans in a large pot in water to cover them overnight, then drain and rinse them in fresh water, or B) put the beans in a large pot in water to cover them, bring the water to a boil for a couple of minutes, then remove the pot from the heat, cover it and let it sit for an hour and then drain and rinse the beans.
* 2 tablespoons chili powder, or to taste (I'd start with 1 tablespoon and add more later, if you like)
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 tablespoon cumin
* 2 cloves of garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon dried onion
* 1 tablespoon salt

Put the soaked and rinsed beans in a large pot, add the seasonings, and add enough water to cover the beans.  Put the pork in the pot as well.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook for 6 hours on the stovetop, adding water as needed.  I like to add a sliced carrot, a sliced stalk of celery, and some fresh chopped green onion to the beans and meat while cooking, and then garnish the dish with fresh cilantro.  This is good served with hot homemade cornbread.  Unless you have a lot of family members friends to help you eat this, you will have leftovers.  Put the leftovers in your vintage covered glass bowl, and re-heat them when you're hungry again.

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