Home on the Range

By staff September 19, 2006

My new favorite appliance, the bagged spinach scare, and more.


by Judi Gallagher


Recently we purchased a new range. (More on that later in an upcoming issue of SARASOTA Magazine.) My favorite feature is the bridge burner, a cooktop element that evenly heats a large, oblong griddle. I bought a $99 Circulon griddle to use on the bridge burner, and headed to Whole Foods (

to select some items to test out on my new equipment.

Although the butcher must have found me odd, I purchased one turkey feta burger, one enormous beef cowboy burger (consumed while humming Willie Nelson tunes), one chicken kebob, one thick-cut pork chop, one marinated beef kebob and one lamb kebob. Please note that I was going to be home alone all day and do not even eat lamb.

My scientific research has led me to this conclusion: It is not the price of the range, nor the price of the griddle pan that readers should consider. It is the price of tight pants that you must pay when you devour perfectly cooked burgers, steaks, chops and meat skewers that taste as good off the griddle as at your favorite steak house or bistro. Trust me—get the bridge burner and the griddle pan, unless of course, you have just started a new diet!

Coming next week: eight types of grilled cheese sandwiches.

While you are at Whole Foods, stop by the seafood counter. On the lower shelves, you will find Kariba Farms’ all-natural “Nutcrusters.” Try the macadamia-coconut coating for jumbo prawns or the pistachio and onion and garlic coating mix for fresh brook trout or roasted veal chops. At less than $5 per bag (resealable vacuum-packed) these coatings will give you restaurant quality without the mess and mounds of leftovers.



My husband, Paul, and I just returned from a magical trip to Houston to visit our new granddaughter, six-week-old Sophie Grace. Rest assured I have let the proud parents know that Nana Judi would like to buy the first Easy-Bake oven and Little Tykes play kitchen. I could tell that she seemed stimulated when I was holding her with one hand and delicately balancing chopsticks full of ginger beef with the other. And I’m sure that I heard her murmur yumm!  the following day when I was consuming hot pastrami on rye with a smear of chopped liver. Never can start the senses too young, I figure. Next visit we will introduce her to the aroma of chocolate chip cookies. It does seem ironic that I needed to go to Houston, Texas, to find great Chinese and an authentic Jewish deli. Maybe there is something to those big Texas hats, as Houston is possibly one of the best eating cities in the country.




Of course, we have all been concerned about the recent outbreak with fresh-bagged spinach. I eat several bunches of the fresh green leaves each week. It is even more worrisome that the contamination does not wash off. Here are a few suggestions that I have implemented in my kitchen to adjust recipes. Use frozen spinach, cooked and drained, for recipes such as chicken Florentine and vegetable lasagna. Braised endive is a lovely substitute for sautéed spinach, although a bit pricey. Sweet Bay (

has some of the freshest available.



Next week we will announce our winner for the sassiest summer cocktail. Remember, the proud winner gets a free dinner at one of downtown’s hot spots—Zoria. Stay tuned and keep those e-mails coming. Bon appetite!
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