TRUE POTS and PANS, 



TRUTH, SOME PANS HAVE GONE TO POT!

SOME OF THE CHEFS ARE SMOKING IT

My equipment mantra is the three C’s of cooking, and they are Cutlery, Cookware and Contraptions.  This page and section addresses the second and third parts of  Cookware... I have lots of pots and pans.  Last count was 16+.  Maybe twice the average household and they all get used since I like to cook and I am single, and like the diversity of cooking what I want ( about five or six ethnicities and locales) and the gals love my cooking.  

But the average kitchen reviewer doesn’t also write reviews on food, restaurants and products, host groups, or parties.  I do, both worlds and I connect them.  Here is truth...The average kitchen guru today on TV is a chef or wannabe chef or total fraud highly paid for the use of his name with half a dozen or more helpers making cooking on HSN, QVC and others so simple.

😇  The Chef is on TV pitching and selling pots and pans.  And it’s nothing but sell, sell, sell.  It’s funny, I get a chance to see what does really get used backstage in the commercial kitchens, not necessarily the best solution for casual home cooking but a good kitchen does in one day what a home might do in a year.  

If you would have access, some of the pans you would see after usage in the commercial kitchen look like they were stolen from the Chernobyl kitchens.  Gas stoves can do that.  But the kitchen in a business is hidden you don’t see it, and we like to show our tools off so we like to look pretty.   

A simple spaghetti joint pretending to be high end Italian Ristorante` like a Carraba’s or Romano’s might have 60-70 pans aluminum, usually no non-sticks, they don’t last and two guys scrubbing.  And most neatly burnt in on all sides, from very hot grills and they develop a carbon finish.

NOTE:  There are many sources of pots and pans, here are just a smidgen with a few antagonistic comments thrown in.  I owe no one so truth will prevail, so will a few insults. I will simply tell you what I found, you decide for yourself.

ALL-CLAD   ✳️✳️✳️✳️✳️ STAINLESS
Yes, we can all go broke using the excellent fairly expensive All-Clad products which are probably on top of the list of best high end cookware made and then rationalize the purchase by the fact it will probably be the best and last stainless you ever buy.  I own a few.  They will still be usable when I die and for my grandkids.  

They make great stuff. I see it as an investment. But if you don’t understand these pots require less heat than some of the junk or carbonized lifetime no-stick bullshit coatings than buy cheap.

Superb quality and I know they will outlast me. That justifies the difference and you get to know the temperatures and other characteristics by using the same tools.  This means whopping lot if you are stuck with an electric range and I can use all my All-Clads, and Tramontina’s on Buxton HD Induction burners.


OVER THE TOP   
Or, we can go to real expensive named pots and pans signed by members of the prestigious Michelin Group.  I call a 300 dollar pan a collectors item and for me a fools errand, make that a rich fools errand, because I will cook in mine, it’s not for show even at 300.00 dollars.


CALPHALON UNISON   ✳️✳️✳️✳️  NON-STICK

I find the value in for the dailies eating ritual, great quality, they are always on sale somewhere, and hold up well to my style of cooking.  Fast and easy cleanup and the Unison is a lot tougher than their less expensive branded Calphalon lines.  They hold up well to heat distribution, and even cooking because of their thickness.  Just let them cool and they clean marvelously.  Use silicon tools and they’ll never scratch.

Its time to spell out what’s going on. Calphalon like any large corporation occasionally shifts things around by offering different levels of quality or features and they also brand their products to specific outlets so there is a unique style for each outlet.  Also competition breeds change in the marketplace.



BRAZILIAN TRAMONTINA - AND ALL-CLAD

For seared dishes and fond scrapping I prefer stainless and I have for dishes that do better needing sear and temperature control in the Induction Kitchen.  It’s a tough choice buying pots and pans but Tramontina are well made, with a ton of experience in the commercial cooking establishments. MyTramontina’s and All-Clads are beautiful works of art.

Heavy duty and virtually wear proof, easy to take care of.  They too offer differing levels of price, quality, assortments, selling points, rebates and so forth.  Commercially two good features of Tramontina, they are carried at COSTCO at ridiculously low prices and Costco has a good assortment of their line seasonally. And everything they make is commercial grade or better.  NO junk.

I also own two ALL-CLAD sauciers, because I got the lids for nothing and they make a nice impression when cooking intimate dinners as many of my guests wind up in the kitchen with me.  I also have larger stock pots by TRAMONTINA. The two TRAMONTINA stockpots I have are heavy duty and priced quite right.  Stock-pots double for spaghetti boilers when needed because of their price points for large pots and I have inserts for strainers, their advantage is I can use the steel pots on my Burton Commercial Induction.  

A large All-Clad stockpot costs as much as a TV.  The Tramontina’s hold up well, and last as long, I have had them in the restaurants and stock pots which never or rarely get turned off, we just keep adding and adding.  

NOTE:  The most common complaint I hear about of any pot or pan is that the pan warped.  If you use electric you will find that the pan can warp because electric is uneven heating but nine times out of ten it’s the coils on the electric that have warped or bent with time and use and that ruins the pan.   Most of the newer pots and pans with heat conduction rarely need to go over medium heat.  I still keep one cast iron monster for outdoor or on the grill cooking.  I remove the coil and place it on my granite top upside down to see if it was warped. Then carefull bending or adding flat weights to return it to flat.


THE TV POTS AND PANS SCAM
And thats the problem, endorsed brands,  I tend to stay away from.  It’s a pan, nothing more, nothing less, few pans wind up in the Louvre.  The Mona Lisa is smiling she just discovered non-stick.  None of my pans are in the Louvre but they are good quality and they work.

The bigger sellers with addicted buyers are on TV.   You have to sift through house brands, celebrity chef brands, HSN, NBC. QVC,  and the CIA who all seem to have their answers to the worlds cooking needs though I will guarantee none have ever tasted your Chocolate Garlic Spinach Spiced Bourbon infused Guacamole Soufflé with Devils Heat Salsa.  And I hope they never do. 



I LOVE COOKING SHOWS
Intent is the word.   Are they real or just touting...  Cooking shows, personality based like Rachel Ray who needs a diet, and stop promoting her brand of tools and accessories, like Chinese fishing boats, JUNKS, they aren’t that good.  

The Black Chefs like Carla Hall and Chef G. Garvin who have brought unique and incredible cuisine in Black to the table. AND the famous Wolfgang Puck who is making more as a pitchman for Chinese crooker cookers.  Bobby Flay and Tyler Florence, both COOL guys.  

Then there is Southern Belle whose vocabulary, consisting of lots of  “You-all’s and scads of butter” even though she was a Diabetic and now has ( might not be anymore) a line of pots and pans, mostly banged out in the sweat houses of China which for some reasons reminded her of home.  When she got in trouble with a few racially bad statements, Target had her stuff off the shelves in two days.   They are all celebrity chefs and many have unique agendas.  Some are great and some are disgraces to the culinary business.


TV - BUT WAIT!
BUT WAIT” is the battle cry of the ignorant.   This is a clue to change channels when you hear “ BUT WAIT”  That piece of junk you are looking at isn’t worth what they are telling you.  $39.95 and get two for one just decreased the products value by half, so it’s only worth $20.00 dollars and just pay the shipping and handling for 39.95 just to find both came in the same box.  Screwed!  Twice!  And they are making a ton.  And it came from China, never warehoused here and no middle man profits.  And pallet shipping at a tenth of conventional costs.

The real value is determined by the additional fee for that second piece, the shipping is the same, flat rate by the shipper so if the second piece is only eight dollars more, you just got a five dollar item and they made three dollars more because they got a flat rate on shipping..............From China on a pallet with other crap....

It comes with a collection of totally cheap Chinese molded probably contaminated plastic valued at 40.00.  Actual value, I deal with China regularly, value under two dollars and it was probably included in the product to begin with when they dreamed up the equation.  And you will get it free.  Actually the junk was free to begin with.



NOTHING IS WHAT IT APPEARS - THIS IS TRUTH

😇  TRUTH - The shows that tell you it’s only thirty minutes and doesn’t tell you it took hours to prep or get the right ingredients some of which you never heard of and not available in your neighborhood.  It’s all a fairy tale.  Backstage there are fourteen professional people putting this montage of edibles together. 

Like the Martha Stewart show, she’s Americas darling of what’s right in culture, entertaining, lifestyle and cooking.  That’s why it takes 75 people to produce the one-hour show plus another 25-50 in vendor support.  Fresh herbs from the garden, why not when you have twenty acres and plenty of gardeners.

TRUTH - Somehow our host does the twelve-course meal in thirty minutes all endorsing some form of stainless polished bright and absolutely perfect stainless in 18-10 for six payments of 39.95.  After all they don’t do the cleanup and thank God for Bar keepers Friend.

TRUTH - The right handed Fresh Pepper Twist.  God help us if we used ground pepper from a can.  The mandatory fresh ground pepper twist is a required exercise.   Looks professional!  

When you cook for 300 you don’t hand grind the pepper, you use powdered onion, garlic and pepper.
If you use real garlic for small orders you prep the garlic with a four pound wooden hammer on a heavy wooden block with heavy saran wrap both sides in one mighty smash, pull the flakes away, then mince.
Or cheat with the powdered, minced or flaked stuff soaked a day earlier.

TRUTH - Knowing what I know about the industry, one example.  A full line of Wolfgang Pucks stainless sold at SAM’S had handles so weak I could bend them as they would bend at the pans edge.  It probably contributed to a small roast on the floor more than once.  They were priced accordingly but not of any quality.  Same with some of the Rachel Ray lines.  Improved somewhat last couple months but not quite as good. In truth most endorsements are for the money and not because of you.  And that ugly turquoise color she uses is out and dated.   Look for bargain prices as the fellow at BB&B told me customers thought they were ugly.

TRUTH - Then there’s box retailers with selection, Macy’s, Bed Bath and Beyond, Penny’s, Sears, K-Mart, Target, Wal-mart, Crate and Barrel, and a host of others on line. Slightly better but not the top end of any lines.   I tend to gravitate to Williams Sonoma, and Sur La Table for small items and sale items as they tend to go higher end in the quality of the lines they carry.  

TRUTH - I buy for the long run, passing on cheap stuff that rusts, breaks, peels and falls apart.  I best described half the stuff in the stores.  Only once I bought a set relying on individual designs suited for me.   I buy something just like I vote. I go NPA, no political affiliation, I vote for the person not the party. I buy the pan not the set.

TRUTH - We have a great mall not far from us with a Crate and Barrel for the classy tabletop arranging when called for and while my friend is shopping dresses and stuff, I am in Williams Sonoma getting lost in looking at everything, mostly better quality lines which is directly across, no more than fifty feet from the Apple store which is Mecca to me.  I am an Appleholic and suffer from Mac-itus and I gladly take her shopping and vanish to satisfy my selfish needs.   Many times since I know what I am buying, I use several vendors on the web.  A partial list is on the first page.

TRUTH - The required and regimented 1/4 inch diced onion chopping scenes followed by close-up dicing and mincing of fresh herbs most of which the store didn’t have.  Then the hand twist “ fresh ground pepper demonstration” as explained above using right hand twist only.

TRUTH - And the finale when they are  all sloshed together with “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” which isn’t in most cases isn’t really as tested  by the fine folks at UC-Davis has just published an extensive report on the fraudulent labeling of extra-virgin olive oil.  Our own Rachel refers to it as  “EVOO”  and her Imported labeled with her name olive oil failed the testing. It was a blend and not pure, ranked fairly bad.   Sorry girl but you should know better.  

Almost 80% has been known to often have fraudulent or misleading labels, now certain US brands have been found to be mislabeling their olive oil as well.  “More than two-thirds of common brands of extra-virgin olive oil found in California grocery stores aren’t what they claim to be, according to a report by researchers at UC Davis, “ said the Los Angeles Times in the story linked to the tests to determine extra-virgin oil (acidity, peroxide level, etc.) are listed and described.  Their lab tests cast doubt on specific brands of olive oil’s virginity using scientific techniques (aka DNA).  
SEE
OLIVE OIL  (click)


AND POTS NEED STOVE TOOLS - WOOD - EXOGLASS - SILICON

Wood is natural and the best except for those who never take care of them which is 90% of the breathing public.  More expensive is high-temp plastic from resin and fiberglass, silicon and pure plastic cheaper sets.  

Forget the cheaper plastic light weight crapola, the kind that come in sets for ten dollars and include twenty ridiculous pieces. They will break, melt, actually I consider them dangerous in the kitchen. 

I have seen someone foolishly doing the heavy lift with  1/8 inch pieces of plastic import junk and the drippings and pulled pork meat went on the floor carefully filling all the grout lines with dark dye.  

Hot chicken frying in a pan and the cheap spatulas and tongs letting them fall back and splash you. Cheap tools are dangerous.

Exoglass cooking spoons, made in France, look like wood spoons but they are not. The color tan (not shown) looks like wood in your utility bucket.  Thats because it's natural in color.  They are a blend of resin and fiberglass with a heat resistant quality to 430 degrees which is quite sufficient for 99% percent of your stovetop cooking.  

Do not buy the red, yellow and blue colored ones!  Order the standard tan because the fancy colors will fade and become the standard tan.  The tan, natural color Exoglass spoons are quite durable and they can be thrown into the dishwasher. They do not melt nor splinter. Great for reductions, slow simmering and sauces.   Unlike wood, they don't stain or retain food particles, odors, or bacteria. (Carrots, Chili, etc.) they just fade away. 

I did find good stuff at Williams Sonoma, pretty reasonable and excellent quality, they are stainless handles and silicon paddles, the perfect combo. 

They are made of soft, durable silicone, these indispensable tools can easily withstand temperatures up to 600°F without absorbing flavors or odors and they won’t scratch your nonstick cookware.  $10 ea.-39.95 in sets.

  • Silicone heads are heat resistant to 600°F.
  • Lightweight brushed-stainless-steel handles ensure a secure grip.
  • Dishwasher safe. Excellent quality.
  • Set includes one of each tool.
  • A Williams-Sonoma exclusive and it’s a lifetime buy.

 GIADA DE LAURENTIIS' FAVORITE SPOONS 

Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis is all about multi-functionality when it comes to her favorite kitchen tools. Two of her top choices that she singled out were spoons that can handle many different types of recipes. The first was the classic wooden spoon. "They're great for risottos or stirring anything on the stove, really, but put two together and you also have salad tossers," she said. 

An Amazon best-seller and a favorite of over 1,000 customers is OXO Good Grips Wooden Corner Spoon and scraper $5.99.   De Laurentiis' second go-to spoon in the kitchen is GIR’s Silicone Ultimate Spoonula $13.99

“This guy can be used for something as simple as scrambled eggs but also for getting every last bit of cake batter from the bowl,” said the chef and not too shabby for 13 bucks. 



GREAT POT CARE

Stainless Steel

Use Bar Keepers Friend® to clean and shine pots and pans made of stainless steel and copper.  “To get rid of stuck-on food or discoloration, and stains from using too high of a heat, we recommend cleaning your All-Clad® with a product called Bar Keeper's Friend.” – All-Clad cookware FAQ (www.all-clad.com)


SAFETY HINTS and TIPS

WHY DO CHEFS SLIDE PANS 
ANS. - Habit for one thing. You see it on TV all the time the chef doing the flip to turn the dish, and sometimes they rub the pan on the stove for several reasons:  It breaks the food loose so it doesn’t stick.  It moves small particles down to the liquid area.  On electric stoves it reinforces the contact surface. The coils get carbonized.  Avoid sliding or dragging your cookware over the surface of your stovetop, especially glass top ranges, as scratches may result.  


USAGE, HINTS, CARING FOR POTS

😇  Never use your cookware in the microwave.  It's not made for that. Use only microwave approved cookware and Most cookware is oven safe to 350°F.  Cookware with stainless steel handles are generally safe in oven to 500°F.  

😇  Glass lids are oven safe to 500°F.  and never place a nonstick pan under the broiler. Cookware with metal handles and no nonstick is broiler-safe.

😇  Do not make a double boiler out of pots that are not designed for that purpose. Thats an accident looking for a place to happen and wet burns don’t heal so quick.  At the same time use low to medium heat only on Nonstick. Excessive use of high heat will cause pan warping and permanent nonstick coating damage. 

😇  Do not use nonstick cooking sprays on nonstick cookware – an invisible buildup will impair the nonstick release system and food will stick in your pan.   Oil is not needed on nonstick cookware, but if you prefer oil for flavor, olive oil or peanut oil is recommended. Heavy vegetable oils may leave a residue that can affect nonstick performance. Use low heat when heating up oils. Oils can quickly overheat and cause a fire.

😇  All cookware: Before first used and after each use, wash pans thoroughly with mild dishwashing detergent and warm water. If food remains on the surface, boil a mixture of water and vinegar into the pan to dislodge the food particles.  Copper pots have a protective layer that has been applied to the copper base to prevent tarnishing during packaging.

😇  BEFORE FIRST USE, remove this layer by dissolving 3 tablespoons of baking soda in 3 quarts of hot water and soak each pan for 20 minutes. Then rinse with cold water and dry.

😇  Never use oven cleaners to clean cookware. They will ruin the cookware. For Hard-Anodized: To lessen a stain, make a paste of baking soda and water, apply to pan and scrub with a nonabrasive plastic mesh pad such as Scotch-Brite. 

😇  Do not use steel wool coarse scouring pads or powder. Please note that plain hard-anodized exterior cookware is porous and staining will occur if food is spilled or allowed to boil over onto the exterior of the pan. 

😇  For Stainless Steel or Nonstick: A spotted white film may form which can be removed with a mild solution of water and lemon juice or vinegar.


THE DISHWASHER

😩  Yes, some pots and pans are NOT dishwasher safe.  Placing these types of cookware in the dishwasher will result in the discoloration of your pans due to high water temperature and harsh detergents.  The following types of cookware materials are NOT dishwasher safe,  regardless of promises made.  Hard-Anodized aluminum cookware, Porcelain Enamel-exterior cookware, Copper Bottom cookware,  Plain Aluminum cookware will discolor...

😇  Dishwasher safe.   That includes most Stainless Steel cookware, Aluminum cookware with exterior color coating (silicone polyester) with or without nonstick.  Machined base cookware with rings of exposed aluminum, Some hard-anodized cookware is specifically designed to be safe for use in the dishwasher and is marked as such and is noted also on the product packaging.  To avoid scratches or chips on the cookware exterior, place paper towels between pans when storing.

😇  Hot handles and knobs: Handles and knobs can get very hot under some conditions. Use caution when touching them and always have potholders available for use.  Remember to position pans so that handles are not over other hot burners. Do not allow handles to extend beyond the edge of the stove where pans can be knocked off the cooktop.

😇  Loose handles: Periodically, check handles and knobs to be sure they are not loose. If the handles are attached with screws, re-tighten the screws, being careful not to over-tighten.  Handles that are attached with screws that are loose can separate from the pan and cause personal injury or property damage.   Never use a pan that has a loose handle. Nine times out of ten a loose handle will have a screw that needs a good wire brushing, a cleanup, some Lock tight and retighten.