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There's no such thing as a perfect cookie sheet

Sunday, June 01, 2003

By Suzanne Martinson, Post-Gazette Food Editor

My mother and I have a continuing repartee about the old family cookie sheets. Call them heirlooms if you care.

A year or so ago, she and I were in her kitchen baking cookies, a common occurrence when I'm in Michigan.

I pulled out the ancient sheets, and I don't know what possessed me to say it, but I did: "These are what I want for my inheritance."

"You can't have them!" she said. "You and your brother and sister are going to have to fight over them when I'm gone."

I was taken aback. After all, I have my own cookie sheets of every stripe -- insulated, which take longer to bake; dark-colored "commercial," which like to burn cookies; nonstick, which do stick; and even one sheet permanently scarred with my daughter's apple pie overflow. But I wanted one of Mom's for the sentimental value. They reminded me not only of my mother but also of my paternal grandmother and aunts.

Not completely sure Mom was joking, I let it pass, but the next time we visited several weeks later, she offered them to me.

"No, I don't want them anymore," I said in the voice of the petulant oldest child.

So now, it's a joke to go back and forth about the sheets, their value increasing exponentially with every cookie-baking afternoon.

In truth, they aren't cookies sheets at all, but jellyroll pans with 1-inch sides. Somehow we knew enough to turn the pans upside down so that our cookies baked evenly. The interesting thing is their bumpy texture, which make the cookies come off easily. Because our cookies tended to butter, we seldom had to grease the pan.

Last month I traveled to Oil City, Venango County, to speak to members of the Belles Lettres, a friendly women's club formed more than 100 years ago to bring a library to their city. (You have to love women who care about books and learning. They had decorated their clubhouse with bouquets of lilacs and served punch out of a silver bowl with Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert. It was a special day.)

On the way, I spotted Abruzzi, a cookware store on the main street in Franklin. It had a cookie sheet unlike one I'd ever seen before -- its pebbly texture reminded me of Mom's. A brand called Doughmakers, it claimed to brown baked goods evenly, provide easy release and was "lighter and more durable than steel" and "will not rust."

It came with a wire cooling rack for $19.99. Sold!

When it came time for Mom and me to test it, I got around to reading the fine print: "Do not use aerosol nonstick sprays, which may cause sticky buildup" and "Not recommended for dishwasher."

It's great, but it may just go home in Mom's suitcase.

Abruzzi Kitchen Specialty Shop, 1236 Liberty St., Franklin: 1-814-432-3922.

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