Many, many months ago, I was offered a sweet little opportunity by CSN Stores to drop a link to their site in exchange for a store certificate and a product review. I love working with CSN Stores, and in fact, they are a sponsor of my food blog, so it was easy to say yes. But here’s the funny thing about blog sponsors: I almost inevitably end up spending a bunch of my own money on merchandise from my sponsors. This has been true with CSN Stores, and it’s also been true with Five Bamboo, maker of beautiful bamboo clothing and another great sponsor with whom I am thrilled to be working. I like to think that because I do spend my own money, in addition to any blog-generated bonuses, it makes me a more honest reviewer of the company and the merchandise. I don’t have time to putz around with companies that don’t fit my style. I’m not making a living as a blogger, not by a long shot, so I don’t have much incentive to deal with unpleasant sponsors or products I don’t like.
Working with CSN Stores has been wonderful: they sell great products, they have excellent customer service, and their shipping time is swift. I used my most recent store credit to buy two pieces of bakeware: a gorgeous red gratin dish and a simple 9x9-inch baking pan.
Let’s start with the Bonjour stoneware 3-quart oval au gratin in rouge. (Whew, that is a mouthful. I just call it my gratin dish.) As you can see, this is a beautiful, beautiful piece of bakeware. I spend enough time in the kitchen that beauty, at least in my bakeware, counts for something. Whether beauty counts for anything in the cook is another question!
I’d been on the market for a gratin dish for a while, and I’m really glad I bought this pretty red one. It’s perfect: it does its job in the oven, cleans up easily, and looks great all the time. I’ve had it for a while now, and I’ve made braised leeks and a black bean casserole in it. As far as gratin dishes go, this one makes me happy. (In the photos above, I was making the black bean casserole, which is still a recipe in progress. I’m so slow!)
I was also on the market for a 9x9-inch square baking dish, and I decided to buy this Farberware Soft Touch Nonstick Carbon Steel 9” Cake Pan (again, another mouthful!). This pan advertises itself as being both nonstick AND the product instructions say not to use nonstick sprays on it. I was a little nervous about that, but I followed directions and baked a batch of brownies without using any grease on the pan. It worked! The nonstick coating really works! My brownies didn’t stick at all, and they baked perfectly. I’ve also made my very famous Addictive Peanut Butter Granola (shown above) in this pan, and the granola was just as tasty and addictive as I expected. The pan is sturdy, functional, and those handles are useful for carrying it from one spot to another.
Thank you for pardoning this non-fitness interlude, kind readers, and may all your work-outs be well-fueled this week! As for me, I made good on my promise to do a 20-minute long run on the treadmill today, so I feel I’m starting the week on a great note.