Thursday, March 1, 2012

Pots and pans

When we bought the house I grew up in from my parents the first thing we did was redo the kitchen. Those 70s cabinets and the linoleum covering the hard wood had to go. The best thing we did was put a maple frame on one wall, fill the spaces with cork roll, and mount hooks on the frame to hang pots from. The whole contraption is a step or two from my stove and the butcher block counter where I do all my chopping. Pantry staples are in the cupboard above, knives, gadgets, and bowls are in the cupboard below. Everything in easy reach.

A few years ago while trying to figure out some health problems I decided to eliminate every thing I could easily get rid of that might be causing me problems. I was grasping at straws, but trying something was better than nothing. So I got rid of almost all of my non-stick cookware. (I kept my non-stick crepe pans, how often do I make crepes anyway?) I downgraded all aluminum to the top level of the pot wall, where it's hard to reach. The bottom row is cast iron, a variety of skillets and a dutch oven. The second row is triple layer stainless, a huge skillet, a moderate skillet, a sauce pan/double boiler, and three stock pots, small, medium, and oh-my-gosh-you-could-boil-a-whole-turkey-in-there.

I have been amazed at how much I love my cast iron. And if you are cooking for 5 the tablespoon of butter you need is hardly worth counting calories for. Fried eggs, bacon, sausages, seared steak, many things that go in the oven, corn bread, cast iron is perfect for so many things. I use the stainless for scrambled eggs, sauteed vegetables, and anything acidic that might damage the seasoning on the cast iron or leach too much iron into our food. As winter winds down I am making fewer bone broths, but I make soup at least once a week, and sometimes twice. It's great school lunch food in a thermos.

I can't say whether eliminating the non-stick cleared up my headaches or improved that achey fatigued feeling I had, but it really improved my cooking. That and getting over my fear of fat, but that's a story for another day.

1 comment:

  1. A friend of my mom e-mailed this comment to me, and I thought she had good information on cast iron pans so I thought I would post it here.

    So good to hear someone extolling the virtues of cast iron cookery. I have a few stainless steel pans for boiling things, but otherwise, my motto is if you can't cook it in cast iron, it isn't worth eating. Most of people's problem with them, as far as I'm concerned, is not knowing how to use them. If you get them good and hot, just a little oil will keep anything from sticking. When the oil gets really runny, I wipe the excess off with a bit of paper towel. Or I just cook with a little broth I save from meat. Then too, I don't wash them unless absolutely necessary, and then never with soap. A couple of my cast iron pans came down from my grandmother, a French cook, along with the advise to never wash off the oil that seeps into the pores of the iron and not only keeps the pan lubricated, but adds a mellowed flavor to the food. Contamination is never an issue given the high temperatures of the cooking process. People think Teflon invented no stick surfaces. That's just because we as a culture have been lured by the food industry into forgetting the age old wisdom of our grandmothers' kitchens."

    I agree with Shea completely! And thank you. I love the last sentence most of all. I would also add that cast iron pans are much much less expensive than any of the options. You can get lovely cast iron pans at the hardware store for under $20.00.