Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Of Pots and Pans

One of the most difficult trials for me in living away from our stuff is always the kitchen. I can't help missing all the little things that I never give a second thought to otherwise. My egg separator. A non-rusty wire wisk (several of them!). Multiple sets of measuring cups and spoons. Those things. I guess it's a good experience to have once in a while as it certainly gives me a greater appreciation for all that we have. While at home I'm usually so focused on what we still need that I forget how many wonderful little gadgets I have that make my kitchen life so much more enjoyable.

There are a few things that I always know I'll miss though. My knives, which I usually tend to think of as "not as sharp as they could be", until I use someone else's knives and then I thank my lucky stars that my mom was always so insistent that we would all have high quality knives. My food processor. My griddle. But the biggest of all these is my pots and pans.

I was hopeful in coming here that we'd have better pots and pans than in corporate housing (those are terrible). And we do, thankfully. They're Calphalon. I'd heard good things and many ravings about Calphalon in the days since our marriage, so I'm actually grateful for the opportunity to try them out. But I must say, I don't like them. For all their supposed non-stickiness, food sticks to them something awful. Rice, oatmeal, pasta. You name it, it sticks. Foods that don't stick (or at least come off easily if they do stick initially) in my All-Clad pans, stick to the Calphalon - and don't come off easily, even after soaking. Now, I will admit, eggs stick terribly in my All-Clad frying pan. But they also stick terribly in these Calphalon pans. (I do need a solution for eggs, but I've found it in something else entirely: cast iron skillets. They're insanely inexpensive and clean-up is also insanely easy. I've got several recipes just waiting for me to invest in a few cast irons.)

Maybe this set of Calphalon is just old enough that the non-stick surface is getting worn out. That's a part of non-stick pans that really bugs me, though, the whole wearing off thing. I cooked something in one of the frying pans tonight that used canola oil. And the pan seems to have the same problem as my non-stick George Foreman grill - after you cook with certain substances the surface becomes super-gummy and almost impossible to clean. I've spent hours working at the grill surface, and it's just not worth it! I gave up on the frying pan tonight. I'll have to purchase some vinegar or something and see if that can work it off.

I don't want to sound ungrateful for what we have here, because I'm incredibly grateful for it. As I said, things are far and away better than what we'd have in corporate housing. But I'm looking forward to a joyful reunion with my trusty All-Clad.


Amy Rose said...

My parents practically won't cook an egg unless they can use a cast iron skillet. My dad has some trick for never getting any part of the egg to stick, and I'm almost as good. Sometimes. Ha ha.

Alanna said...

I'm not much of a chef, but I think Calphalon is great when you first buy it, but it doesn't last super long (especially if you don't take perfect care of it-- it needs to be handwashed and stuff like that).

I'm completely afraid of cast iron! Anything that you're not supposed to use soap on completely bewilders me. HOW ELSE WOULD YOU CLEAN IT??? I know there's a way, but I just can't wrap my brain around it. (Probably another reason why I'm NOT a very good cook!)

Erin said...

I always handwash my pans and knives because the dishwasher is not good for them. Besides, then they don't take up room in the dishwasher that could be used for other things!

Cast iron clean up is incredibly easy. You have to let the pan cool down or else the sudden change in temperature if the water is colder than the pan could cause it to crack. But once it's cooled, you just rinse it with warm water and wipe it out with a paper towel. From what I've read, if you use soap it will damage the seasoning of the pan and you'll have to remove all of the seasoning and re-season it.

kristine N said...

I love my Calphalon pans--but we don't use the teflon ones for anything. My non-teflon Calphalon pans work just about the same as your All-clad pans, and I've never had a problem with them. You do have to use a fair amount of oil, but I never really used that much less with teflon.

As for cast iron, you don't have to let it cool down. We've used ours in the oven to steam bread, heating it to 450 to 500 degrees and then putting ice in it. I've found they're easier to clean if you add the water while the pan is at least warm. I usually use either my hands or whatever spatula I used to cook to scrape out the food particles, and then once the surface is clean I wipe the pan out with a paper towel. My grandma (who uses her castiron skillets for everything) re-seasons the pan after every use by rubbing with just a little oil and then heating it on the stove for 20 minutes or so.

I imagine you could use baking soda to clean the surface if that would make you feel better about it!

kristine N said...

I was watching America's Test Kitchen the other day and they use something like 1/4 c of table salt and water to clean their cast iron skillet and then re-season.