Fried cold pizza and other unwise confessions.

What follows is a series of confessions that, against my better judgment, I’ve decided to reveal here out of excitement. Students with hot plates, take notes.

Unwise confession #1: Once or twice a year, I buy chain restaurant pizza. That’s only because this chain named after a miniature toga-clad murdered Roman emperor has pepperoni pizza ready to go for five dollars. It comes in handy when you haven’t met your sodium and saturated fat needs for the week. The flavor isn’t great, but it does the trick when you want hot salty meat and can’t stomach the idea of coming home just to braise those radishes you’ve been saving. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never gone home after a long day and thought, “Boy, I could really go for some braised radishes.”

Neglected radishUnwise confession #2: I crave reheated pizza more than fresh. It makes me feel young and carefree because I relive my college days when my diet was just that—reheated or cold pizza. Please don’t leave my blog. I’m going to braise organic radishes soon.

Unwise confession #3: I fried a cold pizza. Somewhere I’d picked up a tip that if you heat a pizza in a skillet, the crust crunches up and the pizza tastes better than if you heated it in the oven. That’s only partly true. The problem is that the cheese never melts, leaving you with a hot-crusted cold-topped pizza that you have to stick under the broiler to finish, which is more work than leftover five dollar dead emperor toga chain pizza is worth. But I wanted that crunchy crust, so I put a couple slices of pizza in a skillet over low heat. When the crust was done, I did something dangerous, even crazy: I flipped it over. It was a non-stick pan. How bad could it be?

I watched and waited for that sticky bubbling mess that you see in poorly constructed grilled cheese sandwiches. The fat rendered out of the pepperoni and fried the meat to a crisp. To my surprise, the fat helped brown the cheese and keep it intact. When I spotted cheese oozing out the sides, I flipped the pizza over again. The crust soaked up all the rendered pepperoni fat and browned into an even crunchier crust. I didn’t need batter or a deep fryer either!

Unwise confession #4: I bit into a warm layer of dough and cheese sandwiched between two hot layers of crispity crunchity pepperoni fat. It was great. I want to buy a pizza and let it go cold just so I can do it again and again.

But I’m not due for another chain pizza until maybe November. So until then, hello radishes!

Upended.

After the worst Midwestern winter I’ve seen since the 1970s when I was only a wee oblivious non-cooking tot, spring has finally come. Many people like to put flowers in bottom-heavy glass vases to celebrate. Like so.

Lilies in vase

I prefer rolling pins. They don’t need water, they never wilt, and when was the last time flowers ever made you a pie? Rolling pin storage has caused me misery until now. This system beats storing them on top of my dusty refrigerator where the trolls and spiders live. It will do until I win the lottery and have enough wall space to hang them out of the way next to the solid gold pins that I’m sure I’ll buy for my sexy new personal chef, Raoul.

Rolling pins

I am, perhaps, prouder of this idea than I should be. Back to spring cleaning. I’ll be sure to let you know if I find something else to store vertically instead of horizontally.

Spoon swoon.

A friend sent me a Supergeek apron for my birthday. I simply cannot imagine why. It’s like she doesn’t know me at all.

Supergeek apronToday’s thoroughly ungeeky post is about my measuring spoon problem collection. My first set of measuring spoons were made of weak, easily melted plastic held together by an equally weak plastic ring. (They now serve lowly but useful duty inside my flour and sugar canisters for quick measuring.) When I started baking more I eventually upgraded to heavy stainless steel spoons. Then I decided that a spare set of spoons never hurt. A spare spare set didn’t seem to hurt either. Additional specialty measuring spoon sets hurt even less.

Some spoons magically appeared as if by spontaneous generation or, more likely, illicit measuring spoon sex. A dip into cocoa powder might have provided the right aphrodisiac, but I suspect that the spoon nookie started between a couple of spoons I may have used for Cognac and Amaretto (but not Frangelico because that monk outfit kills the mood, unless it was with that kinky slut, Chambord). Drunken sex always produces interesting results. It’s the only explanation for how I could possibly have a 1/3rd teaspoon, which, the one time I needed it, I forgot I had it.

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SpiceStanding

I love clever spoons. The narrow spice spoons reach into the slenderest jars. The self-supporting spoons let me measure ahead of time without wasting another bowl for mise en place, which is impractical for clingy ingredients like oil and honey anyway. A spritz of cooking spray on the spoon usually lets the gloppy stuff slide right out. Free-standing spoons (similar set here) are especially handy for having oil ready while stir-frying or cream of tartar ready while beating egg whites.

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BabySalt

Here are deviations from the usual. The baby medicine dropper and tube, though not spoons, work well for extracts and other small liquid measurements. I cut the handle off a cheap plastic 1/2 teaspoon to store it inside my container of fine canning salt, the salt I prefer to use for baking because it disperses so well and is free of iodine and anti-caking additives. Bending the handle makes it a bit easier to grab and also makes it free-standing.

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2 Tablespoons2 teaspoons

Off-sizes and 2 tablespoon coffee scoops always sucker me into buying, especially when one spoon can do the job of two. A 3/4 teaspoon? Take my money! Please! But even spoons that do the job of only one spoon, like the 2 teaspoon pictured above, have irresistible appeal. You can use it only once instead of twice! Half the labor! All-Clad makes an off-size set that I purchased at Williams-Sonoma.

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1/31/2 Tablespoon

The 1/3rd teaspoon is a rarity; I’ve never seen another. I keep the 1/3 teaspoon and 1/4 and 1/8 teaspoons on a ring out of the way since they’re so seldom used. (The teaspoons and their variations take up one large mug and the tablespoons and their variations take up another.) The half tablespoon is not as rare but still hard to find. It’s useful when you need 1 1/2 teaspoons of something.

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MangledPointy

Tragedy! I mangled a tablespoon in my garbage disposal. The grinding, the splatters, the screams—they haunt me yet. It still measures fine. What a trooper. The pointy spoons recently joined my collection. They’re perfect for getting that last bit of peanut butter out of the jar. Also, it’s fun to use them. “Cool! Pointy!” I need to get out more. The pointy set included a 1 1/2 tablespoon, another rarity.

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AdjustableRetro

I never use these adjustable spoons except maybe for sugar for tea, but even then they aren’t especially useful because I don’t like to stir with them. They seem like a good idea but can’t do liquids, are a pain to clean, and grains of sugar and flour work their way into the sliding mechanism. I bought them out of guilt. If there’s anything keeping the direct-sales companies like Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, and Tupperware going, it’s guilt. You can’t not buy from your friends. It’s not cool. This is why I stopped making friends.

The flat retro spoons are similar to the colored set Alton Brown sometimes uses on Good Eats. They’re charming but not terribly accurate because of the wide, shallow bowls. However, that very shape inspired me to buy them. While they’re not good precision baking spoons, these spoons are so flat that you can bypass the messy extra knife and spread jam and cream cheese directly on your bread, squooshing the bread into the bowl of the spoon to scrape out every last bit. They’re also easier to lick clean, an important consideration when you’re eating Nutella and find your tongue strength dying on the deeper spoons. Of course if you don’t worry about your weight and never measure out your decadent toppings, you can glob the food onto your bread willy nilly with a butter knife, lucky you. I don’t want to hear about it.

Shallow

You can see from this collection that I emphasize function over form. Pretty square, heart, and colored measuring spoons catch my eye but not my wallet. Some day someone will invent the perfect measuring spoon—one that is beautiful, free-standing, narrow enough for spice jars, pointed for scraping jars, strong-handled, available in many off-sizes, and flexible in the bowl so that I can rub its contents directly all over my toast. (I’ve seen spoons with flexible silicone bowls, but they aren’t nearly as flexible as I need.) When that day comes, I can give most of my old spoons to charity so that poor people can bake too, albeit less effectively than I can. That’s my dream. Call me the Mother Theresa of measuring spoons.

I also have a measuring cup collection, a baking pan collection, and a citrus juicer collection, but I won’t go into those now. That would just be…geeky.