Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Hot Tray


Photo courtesy Flickr

A while ago, I was invited to lunch at the home of a woman with whom I share several mutual friends. When I arrived, one of my companions gently kidded her about her vintage collection of hot trays. Trudie replied cheerfully that they make it easy for her to entertain.

Over the coldest winter in the history of Western Washington I cooked every meal on a cast-iron wood stove that had been converted to burn oil. The cabin I was living in had no source of heat other than a huge fieldstone fireplace, so I had every incentive to cook constantly. The vast surface of that stove allowed me to push a pot to the exact spot where it would cook best. It was a small matter to park a finished dish on the back of the stove while we completed an early course of the meal.

Every time I think of that stove, I miss it. I tried a thrift store hot tray and decided that it was not for me, but small appliances serve well. A portable convection oven set on warm holds dishes ready to serve, one electronic pressure cooker equals a crock pot that can saute’, an induction hot plate heats in a flash, and an old school chafing dish makes an elegant front and center presentation.

Whatever format tickles your fancy, the basic idea is the same: prepare food that is not time-critical to serve, so that you can enjoy the meal as much as your guests.

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