Bonnie: These Pyrex and CorningWare Portables make the food scientist in me very happy.

You see, I’m a stickler for keeping foods at the proper temperature. In fact, some of my friends refer to me as “the food police.” But I’m sure if they knew what I’d learned in my food-borne bacteriology classes, they too would keep their hot foods hot and cold foods cold. And they wouldn’t leave any food at room temperature for more than two hours.

Seriously, though, people do get sick from food mishandling. That includes keeping food at improperFB_CorningWare_Portables.jpg temperatures for too long. (And you thought that tummy ache after a big picnic was from eating too much….)

So what’s right? Simply keep hot foods at 140-degree F or warmer and cold foods at 40-degree F or colder. That was something not so easy when toting food to a BBQ, a party or a picnic — until, that is, these Portables were introduced a few years ago. Each set contains an ovenproof bowl or dish, a snap-on lid, gel “Unipacks” that heat or chill to keep the food warm or cool in transit and an insulated carry case, replete with a spot for that hot/cold pack.

I plan to carry my food in these to summertime picnics,and will check out how others carry their food before I indulge in their offerings.

Bryan: As I look at the Pyrex and CorningWare Portables sitting on my kitchen table, I immediatelyFB_Pyrex2.jpg think back to night ski trips in high school. This may sound like a strange aside when considering baking dishes, but I assure the court that I will come to the point. At that time in my life, skiing was a new sport and, with little money to invest, my gear collection was a motley assortment of reallocated sporting goods; I’d stuff my boots into a soccer bag, loop my climbing straps over my shoulder and carry my used skis unbagged. I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little jealous of my peers, some with shiny new Rossignol skis and boots neatly tucked away in their color-coordinated, matching bags. With their upscale outfitting, it’s not that they could ski any better than I, though one noticeable advantage was that their boots fit into their bags without almost breaking the zipper every time (one of the unique problems of my Adidas “skibag”).

Some things never change; there is good gear and bad. Riding the bus to a potluck dinner tonight, I would probably be the kid with a foil-topped baking sheet while the others would be carrying their casseroles in Pyrex Portables. While certain things will always be a pain to transport (one of the few crossovers of food and ski equipment), proper gear will always ease the burden. I now use a ski bag, not rope, to carry my skis and I will now only go to a picnic with a Portable.

Transporting food used to be Russian roulette. Will the mac & cheese slide to one side in the not-quite-wide-enough shopping bag? Will the roast beef juice leak onto the backseat through the foil? Cooking receptacles are generally designed for use in the home, so they travel at your own peril. CorningWare’s new portable 2.5-qt round dish and Pyrex’s new Portables 9×13 baking dish changes all that. Each set comes with the dish, a secure lid, precisely-sized, insulated travel bag and accompanying hot/cold pack. There really is not a better system available for transporting your food.

Some people may never plan to travel with prepared food, some people will. Those that do should take a look at the Corningware and Pyrex Portables. Be the cool kid on the bus.

Eric: I am a pushover for picnics and relish the opportunity to move away from the kitchen table and venture into a park for the occasional brunch (or dinner). For me, the picnic represents relaxation; it’s a retreat from the monotony of everyday dining, and a change from the daily kitchen-table meals. I can close my eyes now and smell the smoke of the BBQ and the scent of the freshly cut grass.

Although one of my favorite ideas about a picnic is the food preparation (mise en place has become a personal mantra), my mind is always worried about the storage of the food, and the ability to make it to the picnic ground intact. Unfortunately, not all of us have the Yogi Bear picnic basket, but if we did, and he was still swiping them today, I’m sure he’d appreciate the pasta salad still cold, and the tandoori chicken still warm. Take a break; enjoy a picnic.