My Grandmother’s Cookware

I cook using old pots. Very old, ancient pots. I understand that plenty of people have a cast iron skillet or two that have been handed down, but I have a whole set of antique pots with matching glass lids.

My grandmother received a full set of Guardian Service waterless cookware for her first wedding to my grandfather’s best friend. My grandfather met his best friend when they were both in the Air Force in WWII. The best friend was a pilot and my grandfather was his navigator. When the war was over, they returned to their respective fiancees and got married like so many other returning soldiers. The two couples kept in touch and attended many bombardier group reunions. In the 1980s, my biological grandmother and my grandfather’s best friend both passed away. Through the late 1980s and early 1990s, my grandfather and his best friend’s widow continued to get together and attend their events.

In 1993 they decided to stop fooling themselves and to finally get married.

I never knew my biological grandmother, and I hear that she was a wonderful, strong, and classy woman. But I consider my grandfather’s second wife to be Grammy. Grammy was one of “those grandmothers.” The ones who move to Florida and immediately join a shell-collecting club. She took ballroom dancing lessons, went to bingo, and drank martinis. She always had a huge floppy hat tied down with a scarf that coordinated with her breezy, draping caftans and which ever of her myriad pair of ubiquitous sequined flipflops.

Three years ago, after a long fight with cancer Grammy passed away, leaving my grandfather again a widower. He downsized his living space, moving from their Florida bungalow to a fancy retirement complex in New England as his daughter lives up there. He sent most of the clothes and other stuff he wanted to keep in a moving van, but he filled his mini van with still more and started the drive from Florida to New England. On the way, he made a stop in Knoxville.

I didn’t expect anything from my grandmother as I tend to be rather removed from family events, but my grandfather told me that Grammy wanted me to have a good set of cooking pots. She decided that with everything else I had to deal with, she wanted me to not have to worry with the flimsy pots and pans us youngsters normally start out with. I think part of the decision making was influenced by the fact that my one other cousin on that side was getting married into a “good family” soon so she would not be wanting for quality housewares. So he directs me to pull out 12 boxes from his van. They fill up my tiny living room!

I was a little hesitant to start using them as they were so different from what I was used to. They’re hammered aluminum, about 1/2 of an inch thick! They conduct heat so very differently from anything else, which took some getting used to. Since then, though, they’re all I use. They go from the stove to the oven and back. They heat very evenly and hold onto it for longer than the thin cookwares do.

The Guardian Ware has pervaded my cooking so much that when I cook for other people at their place, I bring my pots with me and sometimes leave them there for a few weeks. Multiple times this has bitten me on the arse as the thought of losing one of Grammy’s pots after a breakup has caused me to explode the dude’s phone with messages about how I NEED MY POT BACK! You think I would learn by now, but I keep thinking that “this dude is a decent human being,” which thankfully they have all turned out to be in the applicable long run (long enough to get my pot back!).

I love my Guardian Ware, and am so very thankful that my grandparents chose to pass them on to me. If anyone reader gets a chance to try out a piece of Guardian Ware, snatch it up! You will find it to be your most used piece of cookware.

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