We do like to eat here at Chateau Bingley, and that means we really need to like to cook as well. Oh sure, it’s a great excuse to empty several bottles of wine over the course of a few hours I grant you, but, still, even if we didn’t have the wine component I’m sure we’d still cook a lot. I’m not willing to test that hypothesis obviously.
Anyhoo, a rather key element in the cooking is the cookware, and I’ve reached (well, honestly, past) the point where I need to replace what I’ve been using for the past, gosh, 11 years or so at least, an Ameriware set I picked up at Costco. It’s served us exceedingly well but the non-stick coating is worn off in lots of spots and it doesn’t really do all that I want. I have a bunch of cast iron as well, which I love for certain things but ain’t no way I’d go completely cast iron.
At first of course I was looking at replacing it with another set of something, but as I thought about it it made more sense to look at the way we cook and live and choose some specific pieces based on that. The first question was non-stick or not? My current set was all non-stick, and that turned out to be less than satisfactory in some situations. What do I mainly use the non-stick for? Frying eggs, sautéing veggies, pancakes, that sort of stuff. So the first purchase was this 2-pack of 10″ Tramontina Proline frying pans for $30 (i.e. 15 each!) at my local Costco.
They have very good reviews, are made here in the US of A, and honestly for $15 each they are, in effect, almost disposable if they don’t work out. Having used them now a few times I am very pleased as the non-stick surface is amazingly slick; in fact, it’s almost too slick: this morning I was frying 4 eggs in one and I was having trouble getting the spatula under the eggs to flip them. The damn things kept sliding all around. So I’m pleased with these so far, as they are very easy to clean with just some warm soapy water.
The second part of this breakfast focus is a griddle. I’ve tried making eggs in a frame in a big skillet but it just was too crowded, and we had an old old griddle pan that my Bride had from before we got hitched that really properly belongs in a SuperFund site, so I decided to give this Nordic Ware 12″ griddle a try
cast aluminum, non-stick, made in the USA, slightly angled so the sausage grease/egg butter can ooze into the channel in the front…it looks like it should do the trick, and I’ll try it out tomorrow. And again, for $22 not a huge investment.
We don’t eat anywhere near the amount of rice and other such carbs that we used to, but I will keep my 2 qt non-stick pot for awhile, as that is a perfect use for non-stick (having burnt rice into many a cheap pan in college).
If you have been unfortunate enough to see my cooking posts, you’ll note that almost everything is done in one main pan, the 12″ sauté pan. It has been a tremendous workhorse and I knew this was the one that needed the most thought before replacing for it did have some things I didn’t like. It couldn’t go in the oven. It had a straight lip so it made a mess when you tried to pour out of it. And it was impossible to pour out of anyway because it didn’t have a long handle, only two short ones on either side. But the non-stick made cooking very easy (risotto was never ever a problem in that puppy) and it made the cleaning very easy (just warm soapy water as always). I was very tempted to get a newer non-stick version that claims you can put it in the oven, but then i thought about the fact that I am rough on pans, I have a cabinet that they get tossed and stacked in and many a non stick surface gets scratched by the base of the pan above it when they get stacked in the cabinet. Also, my current set was made of titanium and damn near every single one was dented and no longer perfectly round due to the rough and tumble life, so I decided to go back to my roots on this workhouse: stainless steel. This Cuisinart 5-1/2 Qt stainless sauté pan pretty much checked off every box I was looking for
mirror smooth finish, nice handle, rolled rim so it pours drip-free, steel lid (good god I would break those “tempered glass” lids in an instant!), oven-safe to 500º, and it goes in the dishwasher. I haven’t cooked on it yet, and I do anticipate a little bit of a learning curve to remind myself how to limit food from sticking when using stainless, but I look forward to it.
The one pot I’m still working on replacing is my sauce workhorse, which is a 6 qt stock pot.
All in due time.