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What cookware to buy?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I know there is some controversy on cookware and I'm wondering what is the best to buy that is reasonable and safe. Also, for a family of 4 (me, my husband, daughter and son) what cookware (cast iron, anodized, non stick, ceramic, argh!!!) should I have in my kitchen. I can't afford to go out and spend $500-$1,000's right now so I need to probably buy it by the piece instead of a set. Anyone want to shout out the must haves and can't live withouts for me? I know I need a large skillet. I'm looking to just get the bare essentials and throw my old stuff out. Help!

Thanks, I appreciate any advice.

Cheryl
post #2 of 16
For openers, see if there's an outlet mall near you- my dad got me a set of All-Clad non-stick for Xmas that Williams-Sonoma is selling for $1200, for $199. Yes, $199.

Just surfing through this site, you'll find that major names, plus what stinks. What can you not do with what you've got now?
post #3 of 16

How to Buy Cookware

1. If you can't afford it, don't spend time researching it. You can do that later, when you are better able to afford it.
2. Don't buy cookware in sets. Sets of cookware almost always include pieces that you will never use and don't include pieces that you might like to use.
3. Try working out a plan that allows you to buy a few quality pieces of the type/style you like and "make do" with some lesser quality pieces until you can afford to get the next quality piece you wish to add to your collection.
4. No-one else can tell you what kind of cookware to purchase. Cast iron has its strengths; and drawbacks. So do those light weight coated varieties of cookware and their heavier "all stainless" (with copper or aluminum encapsulated in their bases) counterparts.
Here's a couple of links that you might want to view to get you started in your research.

http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/showt...=best+cookware

http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/showt...=best+cookware

http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/showt...=best+cookware

I'm a big fan of cast iron and I have a bad back to prove it:look:
My failures in life are few. The most blatant of these is my attempts at retirement. I've studied the process carefully but cannot begin to understand how it is done.
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My failures in life are few. The most blatant of these is my attempts at retirement. I've studied the process carefully but cannot begin to understand how it is done.
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post #4 of 16
As you can surmise from my screen name, I, too, am a big fan of cast iron.

That said, I think that the answer to your question is "yes." You should get all of the above.

By that, I mean that different kinds of cookware have different strengths and weaknesses. A full set of any type of cookware will be great at some things and horrible at others. So, as said above, avoid cooksets.

Instead, get what you need for what you're actually going to cook.

A basic set for most home cooking should include (in my opinion):

a 12" cast iron skillet
a 10" non-stick skillet
a 2 qt. or so saucepan
a 4 qt or so saucepan
a 10 qt or so stockpot
a couple of 1/2 sheet pans.

The cast iron skillet will be the workhorse of sauteing and building pan sauces. It's also **** cheap. (Check other threads or PM me for curing and care advice.) The non-stick skillet will be for egg dishes, crepes and other things that really need a non-stick coating. (NEVER pay a whole lot for anything non-stick, as even the very best coatings with the best care are temporary.)

The saucepans should be heavy stainless or aluminum. Avoid thin saucepans.

A great place to shop is a close-out store, such as Tuesday Morning, which has a lot of very inexpensive skillets, saucepans and sheet pans.

Don't be taken in my gimmicky "features." You don't need (or want) see-through lids or lids that double as strainers or skillets with hinges to flip your food, or other stuff more suited for late-night TV infomercials. In fact, if you see anything that says "as seen on TV," avoid it.

Once you have your basic set together, you can slowly add more specialized cookware, as your own needs dictate.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

So glad I posted!

Thanks alot for the advice! I'm really glad I asked. Yeah I was feeling the same way about a cooking set, thinking that there will be pieces that I won't really use. But sometimes I will be at someone's house and see for instance a spaghetti pot (tall) which I don't have and I think, wow that would be nice, because I cook alot of pasta. Then I think well maybe I should have one, maybe it should be a staple. I guess it's really depending on what you cook. I do alot of stir fry, rice, pasta, love crockpotting (mainly easy stuff). So I guess I will really think about what I cook and then buy my pieces. Also thank you to the person who gave me their basic list. I'm going to print it out as a loose guide for myself.

Cheryl
post #6 of 16
You're welcome. We all love to help, here.

If you cook a lot of pasta, you can use the stock pot (or large saucepan) and a large strainer/colander. No need for any specialized gear.

Since you stir fry a lot, I recommend a carbon steel wok, round bottomed if you have a gas cook top, flat if you don't. Do NOT spend a lot of money on a wok. The Joyce Chen woks are expensive and no better than the ones you'll find at an Asian market or well-stocked restaurant supply house. Forget about cast iron woks (blasphemy for me to say!) as they're way too heavy. Non-stick woks are lunacy.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Re: Wok

You know I would love to buy a wok. I have an electric stove, the kind that is a flat cooking surface. I have always been afraid to buy a wok because a friend of mine got one and had to season it and use bamboo or something and it just sounded confusing. This was about 20 years ago. Are there woks that are really easy with no special care? And what is the difference in using a wok as opposed to a pan? Sorry about being so unknowledgeable, guess that's why I'm here :)
post #8 of 16
Cheryl a carbon steel wok can be carefree. I'm a home cook with one that I got in a hardware store in Chicago's Chinatown many years ago. It has one long handle and one loop-type handle, but you can buy them with two loops, too. You'll definitely need a wok ring. All of this is CHEAP in such a store. You should also get the ladle and the flat spatula-type turner that has a curved edge. Here's what I mean:


(Uh... gosh, that's a big wok! I don't know how to scale it down....)

I gave my wok a good scrubbing with soap and hot water when I brought it home. They put an oil on it to prevent rust, and you'll want to get that off. Heat it up to evaporate all the water, then moisten a paper towel with a good deal of cooking oil. Wipe out your wok; let the oil smoke, then wipe again with a clean paper towel. This is how I treat the wok every time I use it. I'm no expert on seasoning, so I invite someone who is to say more about that.
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post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the Wok info!

Thanks! Wow that wok is almost life size :smiles: . Great information, I appreciate it..
post #10 of 16
TJ Maxx and the clearance tables at dept stores like Macy's are good places to find quality cookware like All-Clad or Calphalon at dirt-cheap prices. Stay away from the specialty kitchen stores (like the one mentioned above) or you will pay way too much.
post #11 of 16
Hi,

I've been looking for some additional pieces of cookware, specifically a skillet, saute pan, and another sauce pan. I think I want to go with All Clad, but have been considering the Calphalon as well.

When at a local store (Sur la Table) one of the staff mentioned that the copper core pans are less prone to sticking. Is that true?

The copper core pans sure are tempting, but very expensive. The regular stainless seems to be a good compromise between cost and quality. Do you think the copper core is worth the extra $$. I've never used it and don't know anyone who has a piece or two that I can try, so suggestions/advice is most welcome. I don't mind paying for the the copper core if it's worth the money.

Shel
post #12 of 16
I don't know about the copper core, but a well-cared for stainless steel All-Clad can be about as non-stick as you need but still give you good fond (yummy brown stuff) to make sauce with.

I have a lot of non-stick Emerilware and I never use it to brown anything anymore.

We have many, many threads concerning cookware. Try using our search tool to find them. Good luck!
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post #13 of 16
This post has served its purpose and has been edited by the moderator.
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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post #14 of 16
A wok is great for stir fry. However, the best results are used when using gas rather than electric. Gas heats faster and hotter and the Cantonese style dishes usually arecooked in high heat. I hope this helps
post #15 of 16

THANK YOU.  THE LINK YOU SENT DID NOT WORK. IT STATED THE SERVICE WAS UNAVAILABLE, BUT I SUSPECT THIS WAS SIMPLY A TEMPORARY PROBLEM OR BUG WITH THEIR WEBSITE. HOWEVER, I DID FIND A COPY OF THE ARTICLE IN A DIFFERENT VENUE, SO I DID GET IT. I SURE APPRECIATE YOUR HELP AND ASSISTANCE.

 

BRIAN -


Edited by BJS1957 - 9/13/10 at 5:53pm
post #16 of 16
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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