Getting Personal About Pots and Pans

It was a simple question, or so it seemed: What's Cooking reader "Clueless Bride," who's planning to register for cookware, asked for guidance about picking pots, pans and anything else to make her soon-to-be newlywed kitchen sparkle.

She got lots of advice all right, but what she probably didn't anticipate was being put on the spot about registering in the first place! (That's what you get when you ask a bunch of highly opinionated readers for their advice.) Her question in yesterday's chat spawned a lengthy, all-over-the-map thread that inspired today's blog post.


The skeletal crew that is my baterie of pots and pans. (Kim O'Donnel)

As many of you know, I'm a newly wedded bride, so many of the planning issues on "Clueless Bride's" to-do list are still fresh in my mind. The hows and whys behind a bride's choices for her wedding day are highly personal, with deep psychological, cultural and socioeconomic roots that go beyond the scope of a cooking blog. There's no right or wrong but we can probably all agree it's pretty fascinating to watch a bride-to-be in motion.

Many readers ganged up on "Clueless," accusing her of taking the fun out of gift giving by telling her guests what to buy to make her kitchen dream come true, or that she's opportunistic, eager for all the loot that comes with being an American bride. Whether or not you want it (I was in the undecided, conflicted camp), it's inevitable -- the loot does comes with the territory --- people want to celebrate your milestone and shower you with gifts.

Another reader asked why must a woman wait to get married to properly equip her kitchen -- and as someone who waited to say "I do" until she was 40, I can appreciate this sentiment. What about couples living in domestic bliss without the paperwork, or cooks (both men and women) content to be single? Are they not equally entitled to a culinary baterie of their dreams?

Still, the issue remains: What does a home cook need in the way of pots and pans? Is there a benefit to buying a boxed set? Stainless or nonstick? And what about cast iron? How much should I spend?

As mentioned in yesterday's chat, I advocate the mix-and-match method over buying a boxed set. I prefer quality to quantity, too, with an emphasis on function (versus fashion). As you'll see in the photo above, my pots and pans are few (okay, there are a few more, but they couldn't fit in the photo) but carefully selected for the jobs they perform. Here's a sketch of what I use on a regular basis, give or take a few pieces. It's minimalistic, but I like it that way.

The Le Creuset four-quart enameled cast-iron pot came into my life about seven years ago, and we're still in love. I cringed when I plunked down $145 for that pot, but in hindsight, I can say I haven't regretted a cent. I use that thing a few times a week -- for stews, curries, soups, that polenta from earlier this week, even deep frying in a pinch.

At first I was resistant, thinking I wouldn't use it much, but my wok has proven to be quite the workhorse. Woks are not just for stir fries, people; they scramble eggs in under one minute, fry up gloriously crispy fish and chicken, handle simmering curries with gusto. I don't know why I waited so long for one, and I spent less than 30 bucks.

On the back burner, you'll see a nine-inch cast-iron skillet, which I use for all kinds of dishes -- from grilled cheese to corn bread. I paid fewer than 10 bucks for mine at a thrift shop several years ago.

You're probably wondering why I've got a saucepan with a nonstick interior. In a word: candy. A nonstick surface is key for cooking sugar, and I like it for eggy custard, the foundation for many an ice cream.

In addition to this skeletal crew, I have a very small saucepan (about one quart), which I like for sauces, a nonstick skillet that I reserve for pancakes and a deeper (but not too deep) stainless skillet (with a missing handle) that I like for searing fish and making risotto.

On my wish list is an additional saucepan of the stainless variety, and perhaps a griddle. But if they don't materialize this year, that's fine. I'm still cooking up a storm with my small armory.

Your pots-and-pans thoughts are most welcome in the comments area below.

By Kim ODonnel |  January 9, 2008; 11:02 AM ET Cookware
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Comments

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I asked for an immersion blender for a gift and got one! Now I need to get away from the non-stick set we bought right after we were married - only 4.5 years ago and I have had to throw out the largest fry pan, which I miss deeply. I am looking to replace it with a large stainless, but it was a 13 inch one and they are hard to find.

So - I need a large pot of some kind in stainless and a fry pan in stainless - I think they are better for us in the long run, anyway. I am getting a little nervous about the stuff they use for the non-stick coating on the surfaces - it just can't be good for us!

Any hints on good brands for stainless, or doesn't it really matter?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2008 11:57 AM

OK, I admit we registered. And I recently received a Le Creuset Dutch oven, which I'm really excited about as I know it will last forever. However, I don't really know what to cook with it (maybe this is part of the problem with registering - getting a bunch of gadgets you don't know how to use!). Anyway - Kim, if you have some great tips and/or recips for the Dutch oven, please let me know!

Posted by: new bride | January 9, 2008 11:59 AM

My mother-in-law bought me a set of the Roy Yamaguci fusion cookware pots and pans. I don't use EVERY piece I got but it was nice getting a NICE matching set of pots and pans. I like stuff to match. I would have been fine just getting a few pieces here and there but would have wanted them to coordinate.

As far as a gift registry goes, I don't think it's rude at all to have a registry. I got married a year and a half ago and my guests appreciated the suggestions. Just because you make a registry doesn't mean you expect people to only give you stuff you are registered for or that you expect to get everything on your list. The registry I created had items of varying prices so no one felt pressured to spend more than they wanted to. People that want to get you a gift are going to get you one, regardless of whether you register or not. Why not ask for things you want and need, besides some places offer free wrapping so it takes all the stress off of the giver.

Posted by: Southern Gal | January 9, 2008 12:03 PM

A helpful tip for those looking for pots and pans:

check out Amazon.com for products. They have awesome prices and great selections. You could also try hsn.com or qvc.com but you will probably be stuck buying sets instead of individual pieces. Sometimes they have good prices on quality products.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2008 12:07 PM

I guess some people may register for cookware they never even thought of before getting engaged. But, I think a lot of people have waited to get married to get expensive cookware they may have drooled over for years. I for one am single and have finally gotten tired of waiting to get married to have the kitchen equipment I want. I have decided to just save up and spend the money on myself. In the past year I bought a Mario Batali dutch oven (which was half the price of Le Creuset and is extremely high quality) and my Christmas present to myself was a Kitchenaid Artisan mixer (bought on Amazon for only $200). Next on my list is a full-sized food processor. If I do ever get married I may have nothing to register for!

Posted by: Sweetie | January 9, 2008 12:16 PM

Registering is wonderful. I have been buying wedding presents for 20 years. I love giving people things that they want.

Then, I got married in October and really understood. I purged boxes of stuff to move in with my wife, and it improved my life. I want fewer things. But we got severals gifts that were expensive and useless. In a store, I'd think, "That is a striking bowl/candle stick/tray." But I never would have bought them, and I don't want extra things. My friends meant so well. I don't mean to be ungrateful. But I'm bummed that their items aren't things that we'll use or even keep long-term.

My wife's younger cousin got married this winter. We didn't even buy off the registry. We bought a Target gift card because they were registered there. We received a thank you note about how they had gone out the night that the card arrived and bought the hot-dog-cooker that they really wanted. It made me very happy (even though I would never have picked that for them).

Posted by: Maryland | January 9, 2008 12:32 PM

Three words: Cast iron skillet. If you don't have one, your kitchen is sorely lacking.

Posted by: chicago | January 9, 2008 12:45 PM

I will be getting married later this year. Future hubby and I have both been married before and have completely loaded kitchens so the only thing we really need is more space.

The most used pieces in my kitchen are the basics that Kim discussed. Probably my most favorite two pieces are an ancient huge, deep skillet (Wear Ever, I think)and my 8 inch QVC Cooks Essentials skillet.

I have an entire set of All Clad and like it, but always go back to these two pieces. I found the Cooks Essentials products to be sturdy but manageable as far as weight and of really high quality. I purchased several individual pieces and was not required to purchase an entire set.

Best of luck to everyone searching for the ideal kitchen tools!

Posted by: soon to be bride | January 9, 2008 12:45 PM

The pan I use most is a Cuisinart 10 1/2" frying pan, the one with a matte black enamel interior, not the gray enamel or the non-stick. It has the advantages of a cast iron skillet without the cleaning issues.

Posted by: fran | January 9, 2008 1:00 PM

I'd get one of those Roomba robots to clean up all of the crumbs and stuff that falls on my kitchen floor as a result of cooking!

Posted by: when I dream | January 9, 2008 1:03 PM

We married at 39 and 40, each with fully stocked kitchens.
We got expensive gifts we have never used, and have moved 8 times in their original packing. (Cut crystal decanters, Sabatier knife sets, silver trays).
Having a registry means you get something either wanted or desired (and we bought from an on line registry at Galleries Lafayette to get a gift for a friend's child). They got what they wanted/needed. We didn't have to buy, wrap, ship. We could see what we were buying in the on line photos.

Posted by: Late to the party | January 9, 2008 1:17 PM

I bought my Le Creuset dutch oven at T.J. Maxx a couple years ago and paid half price for it. A lot of discount stores in this area including Ross and Marshalls have name brand cookware on clearance in their stores. They don't have the best selection and you have to look closely for defects but I have been able to get a few quality pieces I wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise.

Posted by: Debbie | January 9, 2008 1:27 PM

Wow! I registered for my wedding a few years ago b/c I was told it was tacky to just ask for cash. I'd been cooking long before I met my husband. My mother made sure that each of her daughters had a cast iron skillet. All I really needed next to a good pot for spaghetti and pasta. I sold the salad set and am purging the wedding china we received and bought for some vintage china I like better.

The thing to keep in mind is how much are you going to cook, what do you currently have, and do you have enough space? Are you going to eat out very often? Will you be entertaining?

Also, who says you have to register for kitcheware?

Posted by: LisaLuvs2Cook | January 9, 2008 1:28 PM

This article came out in the NY Times when I was engaged and trying to figure out what on earth to put on the registry. As an aside, my decidedly undomestic male coworker saw it and clipped the article for me which really warmed my heart. :) Anyway, maybe it will be useful to "Clueless Bride."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/07/dining/07yes.html?fta=y

Also, I have the Crate and Barrel Mario Batali dutch oven which is much cheaper than Le Creuset but has stood up very well so far. I LOVE it and use it weekly too. Maybe one day I'll invest in a LC but for now this works great.

Posted by: falls church | January 9, 2008 1:53 PM

My pot and pan collection

Rachael Ray oval 4 1/2 qt enameled cast iron pot (asked for Le Creuset, but this was cheaper as a b-day present and it has held up to heavy use pretty well)
3 1/2 qt calphalon annodized stock pot
cheap 5 qt Ikea stock pot (for pasta)
10 inch cast iron skillet
12 inch oven safe professional stainless skillet (from a restaurant supply store, I gave up on non-stick after a roommate trashed a nice non-stick skillet with a fork and I started finding pieces of Teflon in my food)
Steel wok (aluminum does not work as well)

Shy of a couple cookie sheets, bowls and a couple Pyrex pans this is all I have ever needed even to cook meals for 6+ people. I never could bring myself to buy any pot set since there are always 2 or 3 pots in each set that I never could figure out any use for.

Posted by: That Guy | January 9, 2008 1:58 PM

While we have more pots and pans than I really know what to do with, here is what I use 95% of the time:

* Le Creuset four quart enameled cast iron pot ($60 at TJ Maxx)
* All-Clad braising pan
* 3.5 quart non-stick saute pan from Wegmans (I probably use this 3-4 times per week)
* Cast iron grill pan with press

All that I really need now is a large (10-12 quart) pasta cooker with insert.

Posted by: CheekyMonkey | January 9, 2008 2:19 PM

I started with a set of Calphalon as a gift and have been adding to it for a few years. I have used every piece of the set, though not all equally. Of the additions, my favorite pieces are:

--Everyday Pan (I do use it nearly that often)
--omelet pan (makes all the difference in making an omelet...)
--double length griddle and grill pans

Don't have a dutch oven, but have two larger pots for soups and sauces and such. And as a previous poster suggested, other than the original set I added every piece from amazon.com. The Everyday Pan is over $160 retail, $20 at Amazon!

Posted by: dc | January 9, 2008 2:23 PM

I have a question. Hubby and I received gift cards to a store we don't normally shop at for Christmas, and he's given me the ok to buy kitchen stuff with them if I want (they are a higher end store that carried a little bit of everything). Anyway, I was looking at the Le Creuset, and I've been thinking of getting one for a while. I've picked it up a few times in person and set it down also. I'm worried about owning it because I've got carpal tunnel. I find that I've lost strength when opening stuff, and when I was working as a cook, after doing a lot of lifting of the heavier pans and such I was having a lot of pain from my carpal tunnel. I have since gotten out of that line of work and don't have the problem as much as I used to. Would it be stupid of me to own a pot that is so heavy?

Posted by: JJ | January 9, 2008 2:30 PM

I received a set of All Clad Stainless Steel as a wedding gift. I use most, but definitely not all of it, so I highly recommend collecting by piece instead of purchasing a set. The small saucepans are great -- I use the 2 and 3 quart pots all the time. The 8 qt pot rarely sees any action (if I'm making something that requires that big of a pot, I generally prefer the weight of an enamel dutch oven). I also use my 10" non-stick skillet all the time. The pots show no signs of wear after 4 years of heavy use, and I'm consistently happy with the even heat distribution.

I covet a good saute pan, but I can't decide on the right size...

Posted by: cooking is my therapy | January 9, 2008 2:56 PM

Well, it IS very heavy but I find I don't usually need to pick mine up too often. I leave my dutch oven on the stove because I use it so much and don't have enough space in my cabinets (small kitchen). When I cook with it (several times a week) I usually use a ladle so besides lifting the lid a few times there is not too much lifting involved. It is very nice to cook with so I hope you can find away to use a dutch oven without it bothering your carpal tunnel! Also, mine is dishwasher safe so you may want to consider that as well. I'm not sure if all brands are but it can be cumbersome to hand wash that heavy pot!

Posted by: re: dutch oven | January 9, 2008 3:03 PM

Count me as one who's ambivalent about wedding registries. On the one hand it just seems plain crass to dictate to guests how they should spend their money. People have already traveled and made other arrangements to celebrate your nuptials so I feel like someone just showing up to celebrate you as a couple is present enough. I even had a friend who married in her 40s specify in the invitation that in lieu of gifts, checks were requested so that the couple could make donations to one of their three favorite charities. Sounds noble on the surface, but again it denies the giver the opportunity to think about the relationship he or she shares with the recipient and to choose a meaningful gift that symbolizes the good feelings both have for one another. Plus, if one doesn't like those charities for whatever reason, one is being asked to support something he or she doesn't believe in.

On the other hand registries are convenient for the giver who is clueless about what the recipients want. And there's no denying the convenience of having it wrapped, shipped, and taken care of. But whatever happened to "it's the thought that counts"? Is it now the gift's utility that is more important? For the clueless I would say open your checkbook! Money is always appreciated and is not limited by store as gift cards are.

I will say after reading the post by someone who ended up registering for things that were received and then never used, it's no wonder that some of us regard registries as opportunistic. Adults can act just like kids at Christmas, asking for things they don't really need and spending other people's money. (My sister-in-law registered at Bergdorf Goodman where they don't actually send the gift to the recipient. The money for the gift goes into an account so that the recipients can come back whenever and choose to spend your money on what they actually want! How eminently practical!) I'm equally heartened by the poster who said that she had no expectations that anyone would feel obliged to buy from the registry and that the price range meant people could spend as they pleased. I'll never forget when I was just out of college and invited to a wedding of a college friend who'd registered for stemware at over $80 a glass. Foolishly I shelled out the money but wished I'd had the gumption to go off registry and just get something for her of my own choosing.

Posted by: ShawDC | January 9, 2008 3:14 PM

I would just like to add to this thread that I like when my friend/relatives register for gifts. It saves me from purchasing gifts they have already received/already have. Then they don't get duplicates and have to go through the hassle of returning when all they want to do is enjoy recently wedded bliss.

As an anecdote, a friend from college did not register and received three sets of stainless steel cookware and two very ugly, but very high quality sheet sets.

Posted by: BlackBear | January 9, 2008 3:26 PM

Love, love, love the Le Creuset dutch oven (mine is 3.5 quarts, perfect for two).

Otherwise, I most often use a large skillet (for sauteeing tofu, and for stir fries), saucepans (for pasta). Also recommend Amazon, particularly for the Kitchen Aid stand mixers. Best prices around.

One of my favorite purchases (at a Williams Sonoma outlet store) is an egg poacher, basically a small frying pan with inserts for the eggs. This way you get all the white, which I always end up losing a lot of poaching directly in water. Also, love my Dualit toaster (full price is about $300, but got it for $69 at a WS outlet, with a very small dent).

Posted by: anon | January 9, 2008 3:26 PM

New Bride: A Dutch oven is very handy to have in the kitchen. I use mine regularly for all kinds of soups, stews, and risotto and for baking bread. It's great for braising as well and would work for large batches of sauce. I don't see why it couldn't be used for cooking pasta too.

I don't have an issue with registering in and of itself. As others have mentioned, it gives guests an idea of what you want, but don't have. I do think people should include gifts in a range of prices rather than only asking for $100 spoons and glasses.

The thing that tends to amuse me is seeing registries from people who clearly don't cook, but ask for every item of cookware and every gadget under the sun. As others have asked, does marriage automatically turn people into kitchen dynamos who are cooking 3 course meals every day? I always laugh when I see registries with only one 8 or 9-inch round cake pan. I suppose it could be a replacement, but more than likely the person doesn't bake and doesn't really know that it's most useful to have at least two in the same size for layer cakes. I can't tell you how many people I know with closets and cupboards full of unused and unopened wedding gifts. I just don't get the appeal of asking for a bunch of expensive gifts you're never going to use.

Posted by: Allison | January 9, 2008 5:11 PM

Le Cruset is HEAVY. If you are worried about getting a Dutch Oven that will make your carpal tunnel worse, try an experiment. Fill an equal capacity pot with water and raw potatoes then try to lift it, put it in the oven, lift it out of the oven. If that hurts, or seems difficult, then remember that the Le Cruset will weigh so much more and you will not use it for fear of the pain.
I have not bought a Le Cruset Dutch Oven because of its weight.

Posted by: For jj with carpal tunnel | January 9, 2008 5:30 PM

I got married almost 10 years ago, at a young and tender age. I liked being in the kitchen, but my enthusiasm was greater than my skill. Since then, I've ended up buying the right pots and pans that I learned I needed, and the stuff I've registered for either languishes on the shelf or I've given away. So, my point is, sometimes you have to add your cookware gradually until you get a sense of what you use. For me, it wasn't the wok. Anyway, my favorites:

10-in cast iron skillet (any larger and it's hard to hold)

4.5-qt covered All-Clad saucepan; this is my new favorite pan and does similar things to a Dutch oven and may be easier to life for jj

a 12-in All-Clad skillet, for browning meat and making pan sauces. The 12-in is big enough to accommodate more meat for company

a 2-qt saucepan, for lots of things (this was on the original registry)

Emile Henry bakeware (also part of the original registry, although I have found Pyrex to be much less expensive and just as useful, though not as pretty)

Posted by: JMM | January 10, 2008 9:30 AM

i recently replaced my huge set of costco non-stick pans that i'd had forever, so this topic is fresh on my mind. i bought all my new pans on amazon, where i found the best prices & also appreciated the user reviews. that said, i also went into some stores & got a feel for the pans - for instance, while i was initially interested in an enameled iron stockpot, trying to lift (an empty one) disabused me of that notion pretty quickly!

what i ended up with:

a stainless steel 8 qt stockpot with glass lid (calphalon)

a 12" stainless steel everyday pan (calphalon)

a 2 qt enameled iron saucepan (mario batali)

and a 4 qt enameled iron saucier pan (mario batali)

we also have a wok which predates our recent purchases. so far, i've been completely happy with my new pans & haven't missed any of the "specialty" pans that came bundled with my old set.

regarding wedding registries, i was firmly anti-registry (and anti-gift) when i first got engaged, but had so many people tell me "look, i'm going to get you a gift no matter what so please make it easier for me" that we ended up breaking down & putting a few things on a registry. we only 'fessed up to having one to those people who seemed uncomfortable about not giving a gift and not having a registry to choose from for said gift. i think that approach worked out for everybody.

Posted by: ratgrrrl | January 10, 2008 3:01 PM

I am planning on getting new cookware as well (tired of my old nonstick stuff, and it's making me nervous). I'm thinking a mixture of stainless steel and le creuset- basically I think I want a LC dutch oven and one of their skillets, along with a few stainless saucepans. But I don't know what size dutch oven to get- we are a family of 3 which is about to turn into a family of 5, and I have no experience cooking for that many people on a regular basis. Would the 6 qt be enough, or should I go bigger?

Posted by: reston, va | January 10, 2008 7:16 PM

I bought the enameled Lodge 7 qt Dutch oven - the higher end line that comes in colors like Patriot Blue - because it is much cheaper than Le Creuset, I'm already happy with my Lodge cast iron skillet, and the lid is oven safe to 500 deg (neither the lower end line nor Le Creuset go above 450 because of the lid knob).

Posted by: Meredith | January 11, 2008 9:08 AM

I've been admiring a green Le Creuset Dutch Oven for quite some time at a little gourmet shop close to where I work, but have not yet summoned enough courage to plunk down the money for it. I know eventually I will give in!
My best loved cooking implement, to date, is a Calphalon wok with lid that I use almost every day, more than its companion pieces. I got it on Ebay last year and can testify it was some of the best money I've ever spent, strong, durable and very easy to clean. This week, I went to Ebay once again and purchased a two and a half quart chef's saute' pan with lid that I'm certain will also get a workout in my kitchen.
My old Black and Decker steamer, which I've now used for about 10 years, is another frequently used workhorse in the kitchen; it has turned out tons of steamed veggies, shrimp, chicken and rice and just keeps chuggin' along with no complaint!

Posted by: Rebecca in VA. | January 11, 2008 3:49 PM

One thing I find very useful in my kitchen is a salad spinner. It's not just for preparing salads. I use mine to wash herbs, leeks, greens for cooking, etc. I find it easier than filling the sink with water! It's even a good receptacle for washing baby potatoes or cherry tomatoes (no spinning necessary).

There's also a really good article by Marian Burros at the NY Times regarding teflon pans and what could reasonably replace them (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E01E6D81431F934A35755C0A9609C8B63). Ultimately she favors Le Creuset, but I'm not sure if other brands like Lodge are equally viable alternatives. I love my six quart LC dutch oven (received as a gift) which is great for everything from collard greens to spaghetti sauce to oven braised beef ribs. I've also got a 14 inch bistro pan (slight imperfections in the enamel; bought at TJ Maxx), which is equally utilitarian (paella, roasting a chicken, poaching fish, fritatas, roasting potatoes, etc.).

You should definitely invest in lifetime pieces (including knives), and only buy a set if you're already a cook and know that you'll use the pieces! But if you're not a cook YET, just get the essentials and acquire new pieces as you need them. Not everyone needs (or has room for) every kitchen item. If you narrow your list now, you won't end up with a bunch of stuff you won't use that just takes up space.

Posted by: Sean | January 14, 2008 1:50 PM

When I moved overseas, the company moved our belongings for us. But not when we came back. So I am still assembling the pots and pans that I am used to using. Ebay often has the exact ones that replace my old ones. I was overwhelmed when I went to US stores - too many choices! Not enough knowledge.

Posted by: Ellen | January 16, 2008 10:52 AM

Many people list a cast-iron skillet as one of their most-used items. I recently bought one, pre-seasoned, but am having a hard time with the not cleaning it part. Are you just supposed to use it for not-messy things? If I use it to saute vegs or whatnot, I cannot just wipe it out. I feel compelled to give it at least a quick cleaning with a sponge and mild detergent, and I immediately dry it and use a paper towel to rub a little oil on it. So far no problems with rust or anything. Any advice?
Thanks!

Posted by: Jenny | January 17, 2008 4:26 PM

I have been thinking of adding a food processor to my kitchen, but have put it off thinking it would be something else to take up space and wouldn't be used often. I have a nice blender, but are there times, other than chopping vegetables, etc, that a food processor is a must and a blender just will not do?

Posted by: Sharon | January 17, 2008 4:32 PM

I enjoy, in my humble existence, to be a cookware snob. Therefore, I enjoy Spring Culinox from Switzerland in the copper clad, stainless interior, aluminum core variety. It's similar to the All Clad copper clad, only the handle rivets are concealed leaving a smooth cooking area. My mishmash of cookware also includes Le Creuset and Calphalon. A Wusthof 10" chef's knife is also an incredible asset.

To the newly learning cooks I have one recommendation when using heavy cookware, unless you're constantly stirring as you brown something, keep the dial turned below 5.

Posted by: Dave | January 20, 2008 5:51 PM

You have to get the cast iron griddle! Ours is on the stove at all times and used frequently for eggs, grilled cheese, pancakes, french toast, quesadillas. We got our 2 burner model for a very low price at Target 10 years ago. It has ridges on the back to grill vegetables or meat. It is my favorite cooking pan now.

Posted by: Nisa | January 24, 2008 5:36 PM

I agree that we have to be careful with HEAVY pans. I have a lovely stainless skillet that I cannot use since I cannot lift it.

As for affordable stainless steel, the 10" stainless with copper bottom from Target (Chefmate brand) is excellent. The sister 12" version is lovely also but a bit heavy. The 12" skillet without copper bottom is a bit light to cook properly.

Posted by: justbarb | January 24, 2008 8:00 PM

At an RV Show recently we watched with curiosity one of those pull-up-a-chair and I-will-give-you-a-free-gift demonstrations of waterless cookware. They were selling what appeared to be high quality stainless steel ware that cost literally a fortune - about $300 a pan. We were impressed but, having rested up a bit, we moved on without buying any. My spousal unit though had the check book out. I had to pull her gently away.

Posted by: Mad Jayhawk | January 29, 2008 10:02 AM

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