Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The fifth choice from Oprah, and it ain't no "five golden rings", yo...

Oprah's fifth favorite thing...drum roll please...


Oprah's description:

The Melamine Bowls, Measuring Cups and Spoons come in a rainbow of colors to brighten up your kitchen. They feature built-in, no-spill spouts for easy pouring and can be stacked to save space. Plus, no-slip rubber rings at the base keep your bowls in place.

  • Approximate value: Bowls $32 (set of 3);Measuring Cups and Spoons Set $18 (cups $14, spoons $8)
  • 800-541-2233; www.williams-sonoma.com
Before I go any further...you're probably asking yourself, "What the hell IS Melamine?" Well, for those who give a damn, here's what Wikipedia has to say about Melamine and its uses.

Melamine is an organic base with the chemical formula C3H6N6, with the IUPAC name 1,3,5-triazine-2,4,6-triamine. It is only slightly soluble in water.

Melamine is a trimer of cyanamide. Like cyanamide, it is 66% nitrogen (by mass) and provides fire retardant properties to resin formulas by releasing nitrogen when burned or charred. Dicyandiamide (or cyanoguanidine), the dimer of cyanamide, is also used as a fire retardant.

Melamine is a metabolite of cyromazine, a pesticide. It is formed in the body of mammals who have ingested cyromazine.[2] It was also reported that cyromazine is converted to melamine in plants.[3][4]

(For those of you who know what the hell this all means, I salute you. The only part I really get is "fire retardant"...that means it takes a while to burst into flames. I had pajamas like that as a child, which really helps when people want to set you on fire because it takes longer for the flames to burst and that way you have time to stop, drop & roll...ANYWAY...)

What do we use Melamine for, Wikipedia? Well...

Melamine is used combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a very durable thermosetting plastic, and of melamine foam, a polymeric cleaning product. The end products include countertops, fabrics, glues and flame retardants. Melamine is one of the major components in Pigment Yellow 150, a colorant in inks and plastics.

Melamine is also used to make fertilizers.

Melamine derivatives of arsenical drugs are potentially important in the treatment of African trypanosomiasis [7]

Melamine use as non-protein nitrogen (NPN) for cattle was described in a 1958 patent.[8] In 1978, however, a study concluded that melamine "may not be an acceptable nonprotein N source for ruminants" because its hydrolysis in cattle is slower and less complete than other nitrogen sources such as cottonseed meal and urea.[9]

Yep...if any of you have grandparents that own "Texas Ware", that's Melamine. However, it kind of scares me with the whole "non-protein nitrogen for cattle" thing. Does that mean the cows take longer to cook, or that you wait longer for a well-done steak?

I don't know about you, but I am still a little leery of something made from something like this. I know Williams-Sonoma wouldn't lead me astray on a regular basis, but read on, MacDuff...

The practice of adding "melamine scrap" to animal feed is reported to be widespread in China in order to give the appearance of increased protein content in animal feed.[32] Melamine has also been purposely added as a binder to fish and livestock feed manufactured in the United States and traced to suppliers in Ohio and Colorado.[33] The presence of melamine has not been conclusively linked to the deaths of animals, as this chemical was previously thought to be non-toxic at low doses.
Uh...exsqueeze me? Baking powder? Do you really want to make food in a container that has this potential for chemical weirdness? I sure don't.

So let's look at the alternative I've found for today. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...

Sudiegirl alternative:

Sensations II 8-Piece Nesting Bowl Set, Red

Before I go further, let's see what good ol' Wikipedia says about stoneware, shall we?

Stoneware is a category of clay and a type of ceramic distinguished primarily by its firing and maturation temperature (from about 1200°C to 1315 °C). In essence, it is man-made stone. One widely recognized definition is from the Combined Nomenclature of the European Communities which states, "Stoneware, which, though dense, impermeable and hard enough to resist scratching by a steel point, differs from porcelain because it is more opaque, and normally only partially vitrified. It may be vitreous or semi-vitreous. It is usually coloured grey or brownish because of impurities in the clay used for its manufacture, and is normally glazed".
Clay refers to group of minerals that generally exhibit plasticity when mixed with water, and which chemically primarily consist of alumina and silica. Potters refer to combinations of clays mixed with other materials as clay bodies. Different kinds of clay bodies are created by mixing additives, such as feldspar, grog, quartz, flint, many other minerals are used and these can include spodumene, wollastonite to modify clays. Clay bodies can thereby be formulated to fire at a range of temperatures. Darker clays often contain iron and other metal oxide impurities. The clay used for porcelain and white stoneware clay bodies contain very little of these impurities.
So see? Have you ever heard of anyone feeding stoneware to cows or fish? I sure haven't. So right away, you can see this is a definite viable alternative. Woo-hoo!

Walmart describes these groovy items thusly:

Add instant color to your kitchen with this handy set of eight nesting bowls. Made from durable stoneware, each is a different size to accommodate a variety of kitchen tasks. These bowls store easily and are dishwasher, microwave and conventional oven-safe.

Sensations II 8-Piece Nesting Bowl Set, Red:

* Durable stoneware
* Eight different sizes included
* Nest neatly inside one another
* Dishwasher, microwave and conventional oven-safe
Price? $17.96 PLUS free shipping if it's shipped to your local Wal-Mart.

Note...EIGHT bowls. Eight DURABLE stoneware bowls, not Melamine. They NEST! You get five more bowls and you save approximately $14!

Now, if you want the measuring gadgets, you can actually get all kinds of kitchen goodies in a set...again, from Wal-Mart!

MyPlace 16-Piece Kitchen Kit, Red

This 16-piece set of tools is the essential kit to jump-start your kitchen. Great for college students and those who want to outfit their new home; this set includes must-have tools for any kitchen.

MyPlace 16-Piece Kitchen Kit, Red:
* One basting spoon

* One slotted spoon

* One turner

* One whisk
* Tongs

* One peeler

* One can opener

* Four measuring cups

* Five measuring spoons

* Model# 1071258
So see...you get the measuring thingies and other extra stuff (whisk, spoons, turners, tongs, peeler and can opener) for the low price of...$11.96, and again, NO SHIPPING if you have it shipped to your local Wal-mart.

Gee - granted, I'm assuming the utensils are made out of some kind of high-index plastic stuff, but something tells me that the waste from these bad boys wasn't used as filler for cattle feed or fish food.

So Oprah, m'dear...take that!

Maybe I can whip up a flame-retardant sirloin steak just for you with the help of my Wal-Mart utensils?