LET’S COOK: In a class by herself
As I removed her from the cupboard, I said “You haven’t changed a bit!” A second look at this longtime kitchen friend and I notice her gentle curves and bright appearance. Considering all the heat she has taken over the years, she is showing no signs of being warped. She keenly conducts heat very well. I would like to introduce you to my friend and steady companion in the kitchen whom Lydia nicknamed years ago, “Maggie Magnalite.” Lydia went through a phase where every utensil, cookware, bowl and so forth had a personal name. Remember Wilma the whip, Molly the mixer? Maggie is our tried and true, classic, eloquent roaster.
If you have never used a Magnalite/Wagner Ware, you are missing out on some of the best cookware ever made. Magnalite/Wagner Ware has been around since 1934. The Wagner Manufacturing Company was established in Sydney, Ohio by brothers Milton and Bernard Wagner. They became well known for their superior cast iron cookware. During the Great Depression, sales started to slip so the Wagner brothers turned up the heat on cookware by patenting an aluminum alloy called Magnalite. Magnalite is cast from a process of magnesium and aluminum alloy.
Once they had accomplished the Magnalite process, artistic designers John Rideout and Harold Van Doren were hired to modernize the cookware line. They created first a small Magnalite/Wagner Ware round covered casserole. It was the perfect size for a small roast, chicken and so forth. Next came their classic roaster #4265-P sporting a curvy lid which is vapor tight; thus locking in moisture to keep the food flavorful and reducing the cooking time. The handles are cast onto the roaster; they never need replacing and it would probably take an army to remove them. Inside is a removal roasting rack which has many handy applications. Some roasters are practical and some roasters are beautiful. The Magnalite roaster is both.
I will admit before I met Meggie I did have several affairs one with a yellow colored roaster, and another with a stainless steel model. After all, who can resist their shine? Neither could compare, however, to the overall award-winning design of Maggie. Her praises have been penned in true blue ink in numerous cookbooks and on recipe cards by everyday cooks you know our moms, grandmothers, Aunt Esther, and others who were dedicated to bringing the spread to the red gingham tablecloth.
I met Maggie #4265-P at an auction sale on Main Avenue in Rugby, her former owner told me that she was 35 years-plus. One would have never known by her flawless appearance and fine shape. As she was placed on the auction trailer, I had my bidding number ready, and for the sum of $45, she became mine. Maggie has now been in our home for 31 years and has aided us significantly in a number of cooking endeavors. This impressive cookware works well on the stove top for browning meats and then can be placed directly into a heated oven where she continues her duties to the highest quality.
There are tips to keeping Maggie looking marvelous. Should she become discolored inside simply fill the roaster with water, add 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar per quart of water and simmer on low heat until the discoloration is gone. If you plan to store your roaster for an extended length of time, giving the inside a light coat of oil will serve her well. Do not let foods sit in the roaster for long periods or use the roaster to store food in refrigerator. There is good news about locating a vintage Magnalite/Wagner Ware roaster. They can be found at vintage stores and often on eBay. You should be aware that there are knock off models, but they are easy to spot as they are lighter weight. The original models are stamped on the bottom by the following Wagner Ware, Sidney, – O -, Magnalite and the model number.
We look forward to celebrating Easter with family, enjoying the beauty of the Easter lily, and savoring a delicious ham that has been well baked in our treasured Magnalite/Wagner Ware Roaster.
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