3 November 2006


After all the years of cooking, I still don't have the hang of steaming.

I prefer steamed vegetables to boiled ones, they don't go soggy. My Mum gave me a steam inset - it's like a flower made of metal with lots of holes punched in it and the "petals" are hinged, so that the thing can fit various pot sizes. It has three pegs on the underside, to keep it away from the bottom of the pot. You put it in, pour water until it reaches the inset, then place whatever vegetables into the inset and cook away.

Not quite, I seem to leave it for too long, all the water boils away and some sort of coal making process begins. At this point your fire alarm should have gone off. Mine doesn't, since I've taken out the battery. This, because it keeps going off, when we boil the kettle.

The other day, I took the coal making to new heights. I set up my small saucepan as above with potatoes and left them to steam. By the time Lundulph came home, the burnt smell had reached my nostrils in the next room, but at low concentrations, it smelt like roast potatoes. Which is a nice surprise.

Entering the kitchen, I identified the smell for what it was and switched off the hob. The potatoes were on the dry side, and had some black burnt marks on them, where they'd been in touch with the metal, but were totally edible.

Dinner came and went, and I tucked into sorting out the dishes. The remaining potatoes were moved to a box and put in the fridge. The steaming inset was taken out and at this point I noticed the damage - the whole inside of the saucepan was sooty black! This has never happened to me before, I really need to keep track of this in the future.

So, I decided that the dish washer won't be able to handle this and went ahead with scrubbing. Hot tip - washing up liquid with metal scourer for 20 minutes, keep rinsing. Then do the same with a sponge for 5 minutes, rinse, then get some Cif and go back to the metal scourer again for another 10 minutes. Rinse well. At this point the pot inside was a greyish brown in colour. I've now placed it in the dish washer to see if it can do the rest.

Sadly I didn't take any photos of this incident, but I'm sure there'll be more opportunities in the future.

So now you know it. I may sound even more patronising that Delia (she's a bad influence there I suppose), but there you go, I can't do steaming.

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