A Few of My Favorite Things: Michael Lax for Copco

Well, folks, I just turned in a draft of my completed dissertation, so I will be back to blogging more regularly very  soon.   Lately though, I’ve had a ‘come to jesus’ moment in regards to my bursting kitchen shelves.  Do I need 20 coffee mugs just because I think they’re cute?  Are my 8 wooden spoons of various shapes and sizes really getting enough use?  And don’t even get me started about pots and pans. My cupboard is a no-(wo)man’s land of haphazardly stacked Calphalon and Le Creuset–to say nothing of the lids, which are stuck in the hinterlands, behind all the pots.

Those are just my daily-use pans.  I have a small collection of vintage kitchen-wares, like a few Kobenstyle dutch ovens that are just too fragile for me to use and thus are semi-artfully grouped on a hutch gathering dust under their beautiful, enameled exteriors.

What is a girl to do, I ask you?  I’ve come up with a solution that makes my cupboards and my aesthetic sense happy: vintage enameled cast-iron!  Even though Dansk Kobenstyle is beautiful (oh, those handles!), it’s not designed to take a beating in the kitchen.  You’ll find that most Kobenstyle has chips in the enamel because it’s not heavy cast-iron.  Not to say that enameled cast-iron doesn’t chip, but it’s just sturdier stuff, which is better for someone like me who cooks at least one meal each day on the stove.

Vintage cast-iron comes in many different shapes and forms.  Yes, there are the very practical solutions like Lodge and other makers of plain cast-iron pots.  Vintage Le Creuset and Descoware are both readily available and reasonably affordable.   But to my mind, the best marriage of function and style has to be Michael Lax for Copco.  Lax started designing enameled cookware for Copco in 1962 and continued through the sixties and seventies.  (He’s also responsible for designing one of my favorite Lightolier lights ever, the Lytegem.)

Used with permission from The White Mole's Flickr page

So what makes his designs stand out for me?  It’s a blend of form and function.  Take his dutch oven for instance.  Even modern-day Le Creuset pots have a plastic knob that will melt if your oven is too hot.  Not a problem for the Michael Lax dutch oven. It has two sturdy handles and no knobs of which to speak.  Not only is this design more streamlined over all, it’s perfect for applications requiring a 400 degree oven!  (It has always bugged me that the standard lid on Le Creuset dutch ovens is plastic and can melt if the oven is turned up too high.)

Used with permission from Nerd Nest's Flickr page

A few months back I purchased a Michael Lax bread pan for making quick breads and the like.  At first I was worried that the pan wouldn’t work well since it was so heavy, but it’s the best bread pan I’ve ever used!  After it’s time spent in the oven, even the bottom of my banana bread has a lovely little brown crust.  I’m telling you folks, I think I’m in love!

3 Comments

  1. Reply
    Bikejuju September 14, 2010

    (Congratulations on the dissertation!!!!)

  2. Reply
    Susan @ The Spice Garden September 14, 2010

    Alison! Hurray for the dissertation … on …? As for Copco, I find it very strange that I copped a small Copco frypan with a side pouring lip at a consignment shop last month for $7 … and here you are picking up Copco on the west coast! You are so right … a good product! I think I will be looking around for a small covered baking dish …

    In the meantime, have you heard of Flameware? I will be posting about it in the next day or two…

  3. Reply
    alison September 15, 2010

    @Susan: I don’t know a lot about flameware — I’ll take a look at your post!

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