gran fran and her non-reactive pans

Gran Fran got some pots and pans in the early 1960s. She loves them. The Wagner Ware (pictured here) is her favorite, with her Le Creuset pots coming in a close second. News Flash! Wagner Ware is NOT non-reactive!! Only to be used for certain recipes, they are still Gran Fran's top pick. I believe Le Creuset came via her love of Julia Child, while the Wagner Ware was more of a day-to-day pot. Each, of course, has its special use.

There are, of course, times when one or the other brands of pots will be always used. While the Wagner Ware is usually used to boil water for pasta, the Le Creuset is its mate for making the sauce (you know, you can't use the Wagner Ware, it's reactive, after all...). There were times when the handles (held on by a single screw) would fall off her favorite Wagner Ware, which would not deter Gran Fran. Instead, she would just grab a potholder and grip it right onto the metal where the handle had been. Joe managed to order some new handles for her, so the pots continued on through the 70s, 80s, 90s and today.

Then, there are the dents and dings that all of the Wagner Ware pots have endured over the years. Gran Fran is a big proponent of shaking her pans whilst cooking. I noticed this on Julia Child's first episode, which featured omelettes. Julia shook her pan to fold the omelet. Gran Fran shakes her pans to keep things from sticking. But, she is known for her noisy pan shaking. You can't hear the dishwasher when she is making something that needs a good shake. And, she also likes to clear the kitchen when she is cooking in case ingredients come flying out of the pan.

Just this morning, I found myself frantically shaking a pan of potatoes and realized I am becoming my mother. In many ways this isn't so bad, but crazy pan-shaking isn't what I had hoped for as an ever-lasting trait from my mother. To be fair, Gran Fran makes a mean pan of fried potatoes, so it's not such a bad trait to have inherited.

As you may remember, Gran Fran just has a big birthday. My plan was to get her a new Wagner Ware pot to replace her dented one, but it's going on eBay for as much as $120 a pop, not including shipping. To me, this seemed excessive for a sentimental gift, to a woman who would less than likely use said new pan when her dented, dinged, handle-less pans have been so good to her.

Fried Potatoes ala Gran Fran

serves 4 as a side dish

*use whatever kind of pan you'd like, non-reactive not 100% necessary here



    • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed


  • Olive Oil to coat the bottom of your pan



  • Salt to taste



    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


  • Heat oil in pan, until hot but not smoking.



  • Add cubed potatoes to pan, over high heat.



  • Turn potatoes every 2 minutes. Alternately, you can shake the heck out of the pan.



  • Lower the heat to medium after 8 minutes. Keep shaking or turning potatoes to keep them from burning. But, make sure you leave them long enough to brown on all sides.



  • Once they are browned on all sides, remove the pan from the flame and place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.



  • Remove from oven, salt to taste and enjoy!!!