12 August 2008

Cookware

A friend of mine emailed me to ask my opinion on a set of cookware. I figured that this would be the best place to address all my stuff about cookware.

Never, for any reason, purchase a piece that you haven't held in your hands. The reason being is that you can spot any number of usage issues right there when you lift the pot up. If it's a skillet, you will expect it to be good for pan frying, and flipping foods. You'll not only want the bottom AND SIDES to be heavy and fairly thick enough to hold the heat well, but you'll also want the thing to be light enough to pick up easily. You don't ever want a handle that you'll need to use a towel for, because it becomes a safety issue. This means that any pan with those thin metal handles? Don't get them. Also, avoid plastic ones. Go for one with a comfort grip, made of metal (so that it's dishwasher safe), but with enough heft in it to stay cool as you cook.

Also, make sure it's easy enough for you to handle with your strength. This doesn't apply to cast iron, of course.

The point is that when you go into a store, and ask questions of the staff, as well as handle the pans yourself, you'll not only know how they'll react to your hand, but also how they're put together. In other words? Don't buy them online. Also, don't ask me what I think of online cookware, as I can't give you an honest answer.

Bear in mind that you work from home. Avoid extremely expensive pots and pans, as the maintenance alone will kill you. Copper is out, as is any sort of pot or pan that you can't slam around in your dish washer. Copper must be regularly maintained, or else it starts to get hideous. Ever seen the statue of liberty? It's made of copper. If you don't want your pots lookin' like that some day, avoid it.

Go for a heavy bottom, but look for heavy sides too. The weight of the pan being even will ensure that the food gets heated evenly, and stays hot evenly. Those large, cheap stock pots that're thin like foil aren't worth the space they take up. Stick with the best you can find.

Avoid getting a set. They price a set based on "pieces," meaning that you're paying for stuff you don't actively need. Also, I have yet to find a single set whose stock pot, saucier, skillet, and fryer pan I trust equally. Some who make excellent skillets don't do such great stock pots. Look around, find individual pieces that you like, be they from a department store, cooking supply store, thrift store, garage sale, or tag sale. You'll be surprised at the different places that you'll find good quality cookware.

Hope this covers it, lisa!