Several people have asked what we’re going to do with all the money we’ve saved during this month. In the beginning, I thought we should have a blow-out fancy meal at a restaurant in February, maybe revisit the site of one of our first dates or a place we’ve tried to go without success, like Carmelita or Delancey. Krista was opposed to the fancy restaurant meal idea. She made good points like, “Why would we work so hard and save all this money and then go blow it all at once on restaurant food?” (emphasis mine).
Eventually, we agreed that we should reinvest our “extra” funds this month back into our kitchen, to encourage us to cook more and make our lives a little easier. Our kitchen is “good-sized,” but not giant. We have “enough” cabinets, but not too many. This was a consideration when we bought the house. Krista & I both love special and purposeful kitchen stuff, but we work to keep our collection in check. When we buy new kitchen stuff, we buy tools we’ve needed multiple times. Our kitchen projects drive our purchases, which in turn inspire more projects. We phase out things we aren’t using and we replace items that no longer fulfill our needs. It’s a process that’s working for us. Mostly.
We need another everyday pan like our beloved favorite pan because we regularly have the need for two at once. It messes up the timing of the meal if we have to cook one part, wash the pan, cook the other part. We also really, really need to invest in our own water bath canner. All the pickles, peaches, jam, salsa and fruit butters we have put up this year were canned in a borrowed canner, if you can believe it. Yes, we have very generous and helpful friends.
One thing we don’t have to buy is a set of ramekins. We already have ramekins. Actually, I think we have several sets of ramekins. Ramekins are the kind of kitchen accessory that could easy collect dust on a high shelf, but we use them a lot. Allow me to give you a tour through the highlights of the last 12 months in our ramekins’ lives.
Pumpkin Crème brûlée
Banana & steel cut oatmeal brûlée
Pioneer Woman’s Baked Fudge (this recipe is SO delicious. if you’re not on a healthy $5/day diet, go make it TONIGHT! with your new ramekins!)
Baked eggs with grape tomatoes and feta
Martha Stewart’s crustless quiche
Ramekins are so much more than just crème brûlée. Did you take part in the Pizza Hut Book It! Reading Program? Children were (and apparently still are!) bribed to read with promises of personal pan pizzas. My very own pizza was very appealing to me as a child: my own toppings that no one else liked, no sharing, no fighting for the last slice. Ramekin food appeals to me in the same, personalized, no-sharing way, even if I have not figured out how to make pizza in ramekins (yet). You can make French onion soup, cheese and egg dishes, soufflé, quiche, baked cocottes, and personal savory or sweet crumbles. Almost anything that bakes in a casserole dish can be divided into ramekins, but you may need to adjust cooking time. Ramekins help with portion control if you have a problematic obsession with homemade macaroni and cheese, which I do. We adore our ramekins in all their custardy, bruleed, breakfast-brunch-dinner personal pan glory.
If I can’t convince you to add ramekins to your kitchen, wide-mouth half-pint canning jars will also withstand baking temperatures of an oven. I love food in jars, so this is an acceptable alternative to ceramic ramekins as far as I’m concerned. Here’s one last photo of black bottom espresso crème brûlée served in a wide-mouth canning jar. I got this dessert at the Bearded Lady Food Company. The presentation was delightful, and it was exactly the right size to not share.