Pros: attractive. sturdy. easy to clean. versatile.
Cons: doesn't always travel well
Space in my kitchen is limited. The more things one item can do, the more I like it. A multi-use item saves me space by replacing more than one item. Perhaps no item is as versatile as my CorningWare 2 & 1/2 Quart Casserole dish. It's attractive enough to sit on the table at a dinner party. It's sturdy enough to go into the freezer or the oven.
The CorningWare 2 &1/2 quart casserole is a heavy stoneware dish with a glass lid. It has a white glassy finish. It is almost 10" in diameter and is about 4" deep. When I say heavy, I'm not kidding. This casserole and its lid weigh in at nearly 3 pounds. It heats up slowly and cools down slowly. The outside of the dish has a fluted design. Besides being attractive, this also makes it easier to grip when removing the dish from the oven.
So what do I do with my CorningWare 2 &1/2 quart casserole?
I make casseroles. Just turn on the oven and pop in any of a number of easy to make one pot dishes. Being a vegetarian, my favorite casseroles include veggie chili with cornbread topping. Depending on how ambitious I'm feeling, I can use homemade or canned chili. I make the cornbread topping by following the cornbread recipe on the back of the cornmeal box. If I'm lazy, I'll buy ready made polenta and slice it into rounds and then lay it out in a pretty pattern on top. Sprinkle on some grated cheddar and bake at about 350 til the topping is done to your liking.
This casserole dish also works well as a mold when I want to make a baked Alaska. I line it with cling wrap and put the ice cream in. When it's frozen, I will put a round of cake on top and then turn the icecream and cake onto an oven-proof serving dish. I cover the whole thing in meringue and pop in the oven to just brown the meringue a bit.
I like using this dish as a tureen for soups. I'll chop up and roast my root vegetables in it and then pour in liquid and other veggies. I'll pop the lid on and let it cook in the oven. Since I'm a vegetarian, I can let it cool in the oven before putting it away. When I'm ready to serve, I just zap in the microwave.
Perhaps my favorite use for this was with a group of friends who took one camping. Oatmeal and water and dried fruits and all the rest of the fixings for morning cereal were put into the casserole which was wrapped in aluminum to keep dirt and bugs out. The whole thing was then buried by our campfire circle. When we woke in the morning and dug it out, it was the best oatmeat I'd ever had.
This casserole is oven safe, microwave safe, and dishwasher safe. While I wouldn't put it over a direct flame, I have used it as the top of a double boiler or on top of a heat diffuser on the stove top.
The lid is made of a thick, heavy glass and has a large knob on top. The lid fits well, but is not ideal for transporting foods that slosh, wiggle or move. If I have to transport, I'll put on the lid and then wrap everything in aluminium.
I like being able to take a dish straight from the oven or fridge and put it on the table. This one is pretty enough to allow that. Its white color and simple design mean it will clash with very few table settings.
I inherited some CorningWare from my grandmother. With a little care, this stuff lasts more than a lifetime. I love my CorningWare casserole. It's sturdy and attractive. Because it has no painted designs, it won't go out of style. It will always be a neutral dish that will look good on any table. This particular CorningWare casserole I've had for 8 years. It still looks new. I look forward to being able to pass it onto another generation.