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 Post subject: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:40 am 
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My husband has offered to buy me a new set of pots and pans for my birthday but he doesn't know what to get.. and I don't know what to ask for! Cast iron? Stainless steel? Non-stick?

Can anyone recommend specific types/brands of pots and pans and why you prefer them?

Thanks!!


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:05 am 
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What an awesome gift!!

I have both copper-bottom stainless steel and cast iron. Love the cast iron skillets! They heat really nicely, I can use any spoon and not destroy the surface, and I can bake in them. I also have a cast iron Dutch oven and it's pretty good but suuuuuper heavy, so I prefer my stainless steel pots instead or my lighter enameled Dutch oven.

I really don't like non-stick. They don't seem to heat as well and the coating has never lasted long on mine. Plus if you use the wrong spoon even one time, you've messed up the surface. If you have friends over who don't known better and use your stuff (my situation), you can lose a lot of pieces.

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:10 am 
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Cast iron and dutch ovens are the best, in my opinion. I used to use only non-stick cookware, but that coating comes straight off easily, so I've slowly replaced with stainless steel.

Instead of buying sets, I buy pots piece by piece at TJ Maxx. That way, I can choose diverse kind of pots instead of a set that has the same kind of pros and cons.

Enjoy your awesome gift!

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:15 am 
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After I read this post and all the links I decided on the Cuisinart Multi-Clad Pro and I have been very happy with the set! It took some getting used to after being a non-stick person but now I love them!

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:27 am 
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I use cast iron pans for anything and everything I can, but I also love my Revereware stainless steel pots with copper bottoms. My mother has had her set for probably >20 years, so when I needed kitchenware a few years ago I got the same set.

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:28 am 
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I have mostly non-stick, but I'm a big fan of enameled cast iron. It heats evenly like regular cast iron, but it doesn't require seasoning. I'd also pick and choose, over buying an assembled set. I'd say a big pot or dutch oven, a small pot or saucepan, and a big skillet would be enough to get you started. BUUUT, regular cast iron does give you a really nice brown on stuff if you're into that.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 11:37 am 
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I've converted over the years to stainless steel. Is there a specific budget in mind? If you have a large-ish budget, I'd look at getting some all-clad pans.

Cast iron are good as well but you have to season them and I've never been exceptionally good at doing that. Lodge is a good cast iron brand. They may even have some enameled cast iron.

I don't think non-stick are good for the environment unless that has changed?

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:24 pm 
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I love stainless steel. I have an All-Clad that I couldn't afford if it wasn't 80% off, and I love it. And I have a cheaper stainless steel one that's a different size, but didn't come with a lid. And another super big stainless one, all frying pans. And some cheap Farberware aluminum pots. They are easy to clean, anything that gets stuck on comes right off with Bon-ami, or a brillo pad. I find that non-stick gets just as much food stuck to it as the stainless, the coating comes off and it's not healthy to eat the coating, or appetizing. And you can't scrub non-stick like you can a good old metal pan.
I don't like cast iron, it's too heavy for me to work with comfortably. I don't like super heavy pans. Plus my bf has cooked emat in the cast iron and it's one of those things I'll never feel is meat free. Like a steel pan I can wash and it's fine. I have a lecreuset dutch oven kind of thing that's awesome too.
But like others have said instead of buying a set I'd by individual pieces and make a set to suite my needs. I bought a cheap set a long time ago, and used the non-stick frying pans cause they just sucked. The sauce pans were fine. So if you buy the pieces individually you get exactly what you want. Then you can switch it up and get different types of pans too.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:13 pm 
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I like stainless steel for things with liquid (sauces, boiling pasta, soups, chili), and use inexpensive nonstick pans for pan-frying. I've tried pan frying in oil in an All-Clad stainless steel saute pan, and have had to scrub that pan enough times that I don't even want to look at it. It's probably operator error, but the nonstick pans are so much more foolproof.

The nonstick pans won't last forever, but I've come to terms with replacing them periodically. They aren't that expensive, and the technology does seem to be improving.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:21 pm 
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Are you using some oil when you pan fry? I don't use a lot but generally 1-2 tbsps for things I cook in the pan. I have 2 all-clad pans that are my go-to pans. Last night, I made something that looked like it was going to be pretty ugly cleaning, I put some water at the bottom of the pan, let it soak for an hour and it wiped clean with a sponge.

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:28 pm 
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linanil wrote:
Are you using some oil when you pan fry? I don't use a lot but generally 1-2 tbsps for things I cook in the pan. I have 2 all-clad pans that are my go-to pans. Last night, I made something that looked like it was going to be pretty ugly cleaning, I put some water at the bottom of the pan, let it soak for an hour and it wiped clean with a sponge.

Is that for me? Yes, I've used a little oil (1-2 T) or a lot of oil (1/4 inch layer in the bottom of the pan). It all ends up a horrible mess - soaking overnight, scrubbing, scouring with Barkeeper's friend, etc. I think I need to re-learn how to sauté if I'm going to use stainless steel. I appreciate the advice, but I've read a lot of tips and it's just not working for me. I'll stick to the nonstick in the meantime.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:37 pm 
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Beanitarian wrote:
linanil wrote:
Are you using some oil when you pan fry? I don't use a lot but generally 1-2 tbsps for things I cook in the pan. I have 2 all-clad pans that are my go-to pans. Last night, I made something that looked like it was going to be pretty ugly cleaning, I put some water at the bottom of the pan, let it soak for an hour and it wiped clean with a sponge.

Is that for me? Yes, I've used a little oil (1-2 T) or a lot of oil (1/4 inch layer in the bottom of the pan). It all ends up a horrible mess - soaking overnight, scrubbing, scouring with Barkeeper's friend, etc. I think I need to re-learn how to sauté if I'm going to use stainless steel. I appreciate the advice, but I've read a lot of tips and it's just not working for me. I'll stick to the nonstick in the meantime.


I just thought it was a shame you had what should be a decent stainless steel pan and it wasn't working out was why I mentioned it.

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 1:46 pm 
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I have the same set at LazySmurf and looove it! I added a Cuisinart 5.5 qt saute pan and that's really all I need. I was reading a recent issue of Dwell and they profiled some famous chef in his kitchen and he had the same cookware! FYI, I've found that when cooking with stainless steel you need a lot less heat than with some other materials.

I'm one of the rare people who hate cast iron. I've tried so many times and just can't stand it! I have one enameled Dutch oven (Martha Stewart) which is great, and I use a "green" nonstick griddle and grill pan by Ecolution.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:01 pm 
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linanil wrote:
Beanitarian wrote:
linanil wrote:
Are you using some oil when you pan fry? I don't use a lot but generally 1-2 tbsps for things I cook in the pan. I have 2 all-clad pans that are my go-to pans. Last night, I made something that looked like it was going to be pretty ugly cleaning, I put some water at the bottom of the pan, let it soak for an hour and it wiped clean with a sponge.

Is that for me? Yes, I've used a little oil (1-2 T) or a lot of oil (1/4 inch layer in the bottom of the pan). It all ends up a horrible mess - soaking overnight, scrubbing, scouring with Barkeeper's friend, etc. I think I need to re-learn how to sauté if I'm going to use stainless steel. I appreciate the advice, but I've read a lot of tips and it's just not working for me. I'll stick to the nonstick in the meantime.


I just thought it was a shame you had what should be a decent stainless steel pan and it wasn't working out was why I mentioned it.

It is a shame! It sounds like you may have the heat a little too high when your sauteing. Try turning it down a tad from what you normally have it on.
Bon ami works better than barkeepers friend. You can also try deglazing the pan after your done cooking with a little water and vinegar (but take the food out first) or if the pans already cooled down, bring water to a boil in the pan and once it's boiling, add baking soda. Scrape with a spatula, metal is probably better.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:09 pm 
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I bought the Farberware Classic SS 15pc set at Bed Bath and Beyond at Christmas time. I was using my Grandma's old pots because my Wolfgang Puck set's rivets were like corroding or something and it worried me. Anyways, I love this set and I use it all the time. I do still keep my Grandma's Revereware Dutch Oven because I have yet to find another one like it that doesn't have rivets on the inside. In addition to that, I have a 12in cast iron skillet that gets weekly use.

I love my stuff!


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:56 pm 
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Alaina wrote:
It is a shame! It sounds like you may have the heat a little too high when your sauteing. Try turning it down a tad from what you normally have it on.
Bon ami works better than barkeepers friend. You can also try deglazing the pan after your done cooking with a little water and vinegar (but take the food out first) or if the pans already cooled down, bring water to a boil in the pan and once it's boiling, add baking soda. Scrape with a spatula, metal is probably better.


I really do appreciate the advice, but I have exhausted my patience for troubleshooting at this point and didn't really want to derail this thread with my own problems. When I'm ready to give it another go, I might post a new thread.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:21 pm 
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I have pieces of a set of copper-clad stainless Revereware and pieces of a set of aluminum-clad stainless Farberware, both of which were purchased in 1990 when my now-ex-husband and I moved out of our parents' homes for college (they just got jumbled up when we split up.) They've clearly stood the test of time and, other than the black plastic handles now being dull instead of glossy, they are none the worse for wear 23 years later. I don't see why I won't have them for another 23 years. So, I stand by a good set of stainless, and I have added an additional size pot to that collection more recently. That said, I very rarely use the stainless skillet that came with them. I have a couple of spendy nonstick skillets that I've had for 4 or 5 years and are still in nice shape because I am very careful with them (I'd have to go home any check what brand they are) and a couple of cast iron skillets, and I just like both of them better than the stainless, largely for clean-up reasons.

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 4:08 pm 
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I wanted to add that it's nice to have a non-stick pan for shiitake that REALLY likes to stick, like potatoes. However, we spent $100 on a nice big Caphalon non-stick pan less than a year ago, and we're really good about only using wood or plastic utensils, but it already has a notch in the coating. It seems like once that happens, it just keeps getting worse. Just something to keep in mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:11 pm 
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creep wrote:
I wanted to add that it's nice to have a non-stick pan for shiitake that REALLY likes to stick, like potatoes. However, we spent $100 on a nice big Caphalon non-stick pan less than a year ago, and we're really good about only using wood or plastic utensils, but it already has a notch in the coating. It seems like once that happens, it just keeps getting worse. Just something to keep in mind.

This is a good point, and a reason why I didn't want to spend much on nonstick pans. I forgot to mention the brand of mine - they are T-fal professional, which had been highly rated by Cook's Illustrated among similarly priced nonstick pans. I think they were in the $20-30 range (look for them on sale if you decide to go that route).


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:57 pm 
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This is a good thread! I'm going to be moving with my boyfriend to our own place soon, and we'll need to pick up a stock pot, a saucepan or two, and some kind of non-cast-iron thing for pancakes and other finicky stuff. I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with options, so I am glad to hear some recommendations.

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:04 pm 
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I was just talking about this last night! I have a pretty decent collection of pots and pans, and I would recommend that you get a nice selection of stuff to use for cooking different things. If you get a nice set, then supplement the additional pieces at discount stores or Amazon as you go along, as I did.

- 10-12 piece of good, heavy Stainless Steel cookware. $200ish. I got the Emeril Set **see below

- One really good non-stick large skillet (about $25 at TJ Maxx)

- One really good, deep, pre-season Cast Iron Skillet (I got a lodge one on Amazon, $20)

- One nice ceramic Dutch oven (on my wish list. I need one!)

**I don't usually go for the celebrity endorsed stuff, but I got this as a gift about 7 years ago. It is comparable to the few very expensive caphalon pieces I had that were $100+ each! I still have the set, and it is awesome. Really nice, heavy stainless steel. I even got a compliment on them from a couple of chefs that I had over as guests!


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:06 pm 
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I have a jumbled mix of pots and pans that I've picked up over the years. Right now I have a stainless steel sauce pot, a big enameled dutch oven, a ruined Le Creuset stock pot that I only use for pasta and steaming veggies, a medium size cast iron skillet, and a really big non-stick skillet. Plus my tiny little pot just for heating up the soy milk for my coffee every morning. I love the dutch oven and make lots of chili and stews in it, but we probably use the non-stick pan and steel sauce pot the most. Now that my cast iron pan is better seasoned I'm trying to cook with it more often. I second everyone that has mentioned buying by piece instead of a set.

I have decided I just need to buy all my cookware from TJ Maxx from now on because I've gotten so many awesome deals on really nice pans there. The non-stick pan we have is a Calphalon one I got there and it's really sturdy and well built and has lasted quite a while without any scratches in it. Still, when this non-stick pan bites it I really want to get one of the All-Clad pans I've seen at TJ's.

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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:07 pm 
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Because I'm a bit paranoid about the materials leaching into my food, all my cookware is glass (Visions??). I a, happy with it, though it's easy to burn stuff in it. I've been wanting a cast iron something for years, but still prefer my food in glass, even though I admit it's a bit neurotic.


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:41 pm 
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All my bakeware is glass. I haven't seen glass cookware. Hmmmm????


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 Post subject: Re: Pots and pans preferences?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:09 pm 
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mandycoot wrote:
I'm one of the rare people who hate cast iron. I've tried so many times and just can't stand it! I have one enameled Dutch oven (Martha Stewart) which is great, and I use a "green" nonstick griddle and grill pan by Ecolution.


This is me. Outside of my huge la crueset Dutch oven, I almost never use any of my cast iron. I do have a lovely enamelled cast iron frying pan that I adore looking at but hate cooking with.

My set is definitely of the cobbled together variety. I have my pasta/soup pot that we bought with wedding gift money, a huge huge HUGE stock pot that we got at the Salvation Army, this awesome non stick pan that's sort of wok shaped (best ever for stir fry, pasta sauce, etc) and a super cheapo set of three non stick pans we got at Walmart when we first moved. It's been three and a half years and this pans are horribly unbalanced but keep trucking and the only chipping of the non stick stuff is at the very tip of the pans' edges.

But no matter what you go for, shell out for a good, huge Dutch oven. Great for casseroles, stews, chili - I love mine.

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