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Cook on Clay: Rugged and Elegant Flameware Cooking Pots

Mac n Cheese

Human beings have been cooking in clay pots for thousands of years. In many cultures, entire cooking styles like tagine or tandoori have developed around specialized clay cooking pots. However, until recently, practical and beautiful clay cookware for everyday use didn’t really exist in the United States. Cook on Clay, the brainchild of clay artists Robbie Lobell and Maryon Attwood, offers flameware cooking pots that cook food evenly, can withstand extreme temperatures, and look beautiful on the table.

The development of clay cookware in the U.S. dates back to the early 1900s when advances in the chemistry of clay made clay pots more able to handle high temperatures and resist cracking. It wasn’t until the 1950’s, however, when a small group of clay artists started working to produce high-fire flameware clay bodies. When they added petalite, a material used for tiles on the space shuttle, the pots were able to withstand temperature changes without expansion or cracking and flameware was born.

Handmade Clay Pots

Cook on Clay flameware pots are handmade from a special clay that withstands high temperatures.

Robbie Lobell and Maryon Attwood come from this tradition of flameware artists and create a beautiful line of high-temperature cookware in their studio on Whidbey Island, Washington. Their pots are made with a custom-mixed high-fire “flameproof” clay body formulated to withstand thermal shock when heated. Cook on Clay pots and platters can withstand more extreme temperature changes than typical earthenware pottery, they’re microwave and dishwasher-safe, and easy to clean. You can cook with them in the oven, on the stovetop, or even on your BBQ. They can also go from the refrigerator to the flame without worry. And, while they’re elegantly beautiful, they’re heavy and very sturdy.

Robbie Lobell, Clay Pot Artist

Clay artist Robbie Lobell explains how they make Cook on Clay flameware.

Additionally, these artists care about the environment. Their cookware is 100% environmentally safe and non-toxic. The pots are fired at an extremely high temperature (2300 degrees F.), which creates a durable, non-porous surface that doesn’t leach metals or other chemicals into food or the environment like some metal cookware can. They fire all their pots in a clean-burning gas-fired kiln (they’ll soon convert to biofuel). They also ship their pots in 100% recyclable and re-useable materials

RFT Tested

soda-vapour kiln

Cook on Clay pots are fired at 2300 Degrees F. in this soda-vapour kiln and have a non-pourous surface that won’t leach into the food or environment.

RFT Editors Anne Weaver and Bobbie Hasselbring recently put one of Cook on Clay’s square baking pots to the test with a macaroni and cheese recipe. Normally, we use a Pyrex glass baking dish. It works well enough, but sometimes foods sticks and, often, we have to scrub off blackened food from the white surface. We had no such problems with our Cook on Clay flameware pot.

Food releases easily from the flameware.

We immediately noticed two differences with the Cook on Clay pot: the food cooked much more evenly and it slipped out of the pot easily. Of course, our pan of macaroni also went from the oven to the table and looked great. There was no unsightly burned on food like we often get with Pyrex dishes. In addition, the macaroni stayed hot much longer.

Shelf with Cook on Clay Pots

Cook on Clay pots feature a soft, pleasing finish.

Our final surprise was when we cleaned the pot. It was absolutely effortless. A few swipes with a plastic scrubber and it cleaned up nicely. These clay pots also do well in the dishwasher.

All Cook on Clay pots are designed by Robbie and Maryon. As savvy cooks have become aware of their beautiful cookware, demand has risen, so Cook on Clay has some of their pots made with a mold and ram pressed. All are hand finished and fired for 28 hours in their soda-vapour kiln, which produces beautiful Boudreaux or Tuscan gold finish finishes.

Cook on Clay pots aren’t inexpensive. Our small square flameware pot retails at $95. However, these are works of art you’ll have for a lifetime. Beautifully handmade, they’re pots you’ll be proud to pass onto the next generation of cooks. They make casseroles, platters, paella/oval roasters, and square and rectangular baking pots. They’re pots are available or in their small showroom at their studio on Whidbey Island.

Rugged Pots

These rugged pots will be passed onto generations of cooks.

For us here at RFT, we’re looking forward to trying all of Robbie and Maryon’s designs. If fact, I’m dreaming about using Cook on Clay’s paella/oval pan on the BBQ grill with a wonderful recipe for Spanish paella we got from a chef in Spain or maybe using a Cook on Clay pizza stone to make that incredible lobster pizza from Boston chef Lydia Shire…

UPDATE: I was so impressed with the even cooking of Cook on Clay products, I ordered a Cook on Clay pizza stone from master potter Robbie Lobbell. Of course, I’d shopped around. I could have purchased a standard $30 stone from a kitchen shop, but it was RFT Editor Anne Weaver’s birthday and I wanted to give her a really great pizza stone. So I shelled out the $150 and ordered a Cook on Clay pizza stone. We weren’t disappointed.

Like all Cook on Clay products, Anne’s new  Cook on Clay pizza is stone is beautiful. More importantly, it bakes perfect pizza– crisp yet chewy. In addition, the stone cleans up easily with a little soap and water, even when cheese bakes onto the surface.

Clay Pizza Stone

Cook on Clay’s pizza stone bakes up perfect pizza — crispy and chewy.

Real bottom line: Cookware comes and goes, but Cook on Clay’s, beautiful, handmade ceramic flameware can withstand extreme temperatures and is cookware that you’ll treasure for a lifetime. And you’ll have great fun baking pizza with one of their incredible pizza stones. http://cookonclay.com/  – Review by BH

 

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Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

RFT co-founder Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. An award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook, Bobbie is editor-in-chief at realfoodtraveler.com.


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