When I was growing up, our cookware was never really a cohesive purchased set. It consisted of pieces from several stores, along with a few free pots and pans that my Mother acquired through the S&H Green Stamps program. Later, she would get free pots and pans based on what she spent at our local grocery store. The old saying, you get what you pay for, applies here. We would typically have to replace these pieces every couple of years, because they would warp and the handles would fall off, burn or melt. They were not very durable.
At one point, I did convince her to purchase an actual set of cookware. Again, she choose one of the cheaper brands. I could never use one of the pots due to a hot spot that would burn the food.
After I went to culinary school, I started to use All-Clad® pots and pans. They last forever. They are a little more expensive than some other brands, but I used to buy one or two pieces a year until I had a full set. It is definitely worth the investment, even if you can only afford a few good pieces.
Having good set of cookware will ensure even cooking, with no hot spots. The All-Clad® stainless steel pots and pans heat up quickly and are extremely durable. They are exceptional for even heating. The stainless steel surface are ideal for searing, browning and pan-frying. The will also not react with food. A few of my favorite pieces are:
• 10” Nonstick Fry Pan
• 3 Quart Saute’ Pan with lid
• 3 Quart Saucepan with lid
• Nonstick Roasting Pan with Roasting Rack
• 6 Quart Soup Pot or Stock Pot (I prefer one that is wider vs taller and narrow)
Other cookware that comes in handy is a double boiler, a Dutch Oven and a Double Burner Griddle. If you love Chinese food a Wok is also a good investment.
You can determine the sizes you need, based on the size of your family.
To supplement my All Clad® set, I have a set of CorningWare casserole dishes. The blue cornflower pattern is iconic. I still use them on a regular basis. These casserole dishes can go from the oven to the table or refrigerator.
They are so easy to clean. Fill the dish with hot water and a little Dawn®. Then let it sit. Come back later and they will wipe clean. Very little to no scrubbing required.
CAST IRON COOKWARE
There are definitely benefits to using cast iron cookware. I love that they are naturally nonstick and chemical free. They also have a long life span. You can use cast iron cookware on top of the stove or in the oven. If you are low on iron, cast iron will fortify your food with iron, as some iron will leach into the food.
However, there are a couple of negatives. I am currently living in a brand new rental townhouse with a new electric stove. The paperwork that came with the stove specifically states not to use cast iron as it may scratch the surface. Additionally, these pieces can be heavy to hold. Someone with arthritis may find it difficult to use these pieces on a regular basis.
I do have a both LeCrueset® cookware and my Mother’s Lodge® cast iron skillet set, which I will never part with. Some of the best burgers and steaks that we had when I was going up, where cooked in a cast iron skillet.