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Puttin' on The Mitts: What's Cookin'?

I'm flying solo this week since Chelsey, my counterpart, is trying to dig through her desk and emails after being out of the office last week. Good thing this week's topic isn't too hard. I think I can handle this one, thanks to Google, of course.

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I'm flying solo this week since Chelsey, my counterpart, is trying to dig through her desk and emails after being out of the office last week. Good thing this week's topic isn't too hard. I think I can handle this one, thanks to Google, of course. BrainerdDispatch.com Illustration
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I'm flying solo this week since Chelsey, my counterpart, is trying to dig through her desk and emails after being out of the office last week. Good thing this week's topic isn't too hard. I think I can handle this one, thanks to Google, of course.

It's been fun answering our readers' questions from the Everything Expo in March. We're going to continue doing so for the next several weeks with a recipe or two thrown in the mix for good measure.

This week's batch of questions is all about cookware-some old, some new.

Speaking of new, I recently got a new appliance that's all the rave. I got a great deal on an Air Fryer and I just couldn't pass it up. I haven't had the chance to make anything homemade in it yet; we've only done frozen fries a few times, but you'd never know they were cooked with air. It's the most bizarre thing.

It'll be awhile before I can provide our readers with a recipe for homemade French fries. I'm changing my eating habits and French fries are currently not on my menu. Stay tuned for a future Mitts column where I'll share a recipe, tips and an explanation on how the Air Fryer works.

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Sylvia B. said she has some old and well-used Anchor Hocking microwave dishes with the finish gone. She's curious whether or not those pieces are still safe to use.

Looking at the Anchor Hocking website, it appears the dishes are lead-free, so I'm guessing you can still use them.

When in doubt, call the toll free number at 800-562-0773 to double check since I don't know what kind of dishes you have.

Maria A. wants to know what's the best way to clean a cast iron pan?

In unison, the Mitts say, "You don't," at least not in the conventional way you might think by submerging it in a sink full of soapy water or in your dishwasher.

According to www.cooksillustrated.com , wipe the interior surface of a still-warm pan with paper towels to remove any excess food and oil. Rinse under hot running water, scrubbing with a non-abrasive pad to remove any traces of food. Here is where you may use a very small amount of soap. Rinse well.

Dry the pan thoroughly (do not drip-dry), then heat over medium-low heat until all traces of moisture have evaporated. Add 1/2 teaspoon oil to pan and use paper towels to lightly coat interior surface with oil. Continue to wipe surface with oiled paper towels until it looks dark and smooth and no oil residue remains. Let pan cool completely. This step is called seasoning and it's very important when using cast iron.

"I just bought an Instant Pot. Can you cook lobster in it or does it turn to mush?"

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That's a great question, Karen W. We don't know anything about the Instant Pot as neither of us have one so again, I turned to the internet to find an answer for you.

According to the Instant Pot website, "Cooking time for seafood is typically short. The best result is achieved with the original juice being retained in the food. Again steaming is the ideal method. Of course stewing will also work great.

"When steaming seafood, you need at least one cup of water and an ovenproof or steel bowl on a trivet. When seafood or fish are over-cooked, their texture turns tough. (So, apparently not mushy). Unless that's the intended result, you should control the cooking time precisely. Normally, you'll need to use the steam release to release the pressure and stop cooking, as soon as the programmed cooking period is over. An alternative is to take the natural cooling time (7-10 minutes) into consideration."

Cooking times are approximate. The Instant Pot timetable for lobster is 3-4 minutes if fresh and 4-6 minutes if frozen.

Good luck!

-- DeLynn

Related Topics: FOOD
DeLynn Howard is the newsroom receptionist and special publications coordinator for the Brainerd Dispatch. She can be reached at 218-855-5850 or delynn.howard@brainerddispatch.com.
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