Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You Are How You Cook.

 ....well if that's true than we must also factor in how we're cooking our best medicines.

Like most newlyweds we were gifted a set of cookware.  It was great, all shiny and red; complete with non-stick linings that made things oh so easy.  But as time wore on, just a few years to be honest, that inside started to change - flaking and cracking until we started finding bits of it in our food. 

A big red flag went up for this new mommy and I began the hunt for new cookware.  This is now one area where I find it is justifiable to relegate a nice chunk of change - particularly if you go at the purchase with longevity in mind.  So with my own permission to invest in a new set of cookware, trying to find new items that were trustworthy, budget friendly and guaranteed to last.

Now first I need to give a big shout of thanks to Frugally Sustainable's Facebook page, where they will post a question for their readers to respond to with their own experiences and knowledge.  It was the overwhelming response I got on this page, over 50 comments in less than an hour, that really sealed the deal for me. 

However, I wanted to share a little of the basic information I found while starting to research the topic.  If you've been using, as I have in the past, the affordable cookware made of aluminum or covered with Teflon I encourage you to look around at the new studies about the potential hazards of aluminum and teflon, and possible consider that it might not just be what you're cooking, but what you're cooking in that could affect your health.

For those of you new to the topic, here's a few of  the basics of cookware-ology that I've learned

  • Stainless Steel
    • Pros - Durable, easy to clean.  Non-reactive with acidic foods.
    • Cons - Does not distribute heat well with out aluminum or copper "clad" layers
  • Copper
    • Pros - Best for heat distribution
    • Cons - Expensive
  • Cast Iron
    • Pros - Long lasting, naturally non-stick if seasoned correctly.  Enameled Cast Iron, though expensive, solves many of the traditional problems with cast iron cookware.
    • Cons - Heavy, hand washing, needs seasoning to keep from rusting.  Can react with high acidic foods.
  • Anodized Aluminum
    • Pros - Light weight and low stick
    • Cons - Possibility of leaching aluminum into your diet.  Can react with acidic foods.
Thanks to the information I collected and all the suggestions I've come up with a game plan for our cookware.
  • Continue using our vintage Pyrex and other glass dishes whenever possible.
  • Ask relatives to go in on a good set of stainless steel pots and pans for my birthday (in a few weeks) and chuck all of our old non-stick immediately.
  • Slowly acquire cast iron and enameled cast iron pieces (Le Creuset, be still my heart)- looking out for deals, sales and perhaps adding items to the Christmas list for the next couple of years.
How about you?  Any type of pots and pans that you swear by?  


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Oh shoot, Sorry Steph. I didn't mean to remove your comment! I hit a wrong button. Thanks for the Le Creuset plug. I'm going to checking out our local TJ Maxx to see if they've got any deals. I really love hear that folks are still interested in buying something of quality once and using it for 10, 20, 30 years!

  2. My mother-in-law gave us these http://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Ray-Stainless-10-Piece-Cookware/dp/B000UZVSB0/ref=sr_1_26?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1330525750&sr=1-26 and I've been very happy with them. I think most of the complaints come from people who don't know how to cook without using non-stick pans.

    I've seen some great deals on individual Le Creuset pieces at Ross or Marshalls, but I actually want non-enameled cast iron because I want acidic foods like tomato sauce to pick up extra iron.

    Good luck with your cookware hunting! I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on whatever you end up choosing!

    1. Nice set, that's pretty much what I'm looking for. Just went a scouted out some things today!

  3. Cast iron! I use the skillet, a flat skillet for pancakes and I have a couple of cauldron (cauldren?) type things that I used for soups/stew/sauces. Love them.

    Lovely blog. I share your philosophy.

    1. I think I'm going add a Lodge skillet and flat skillet to my purchase, along with a Lodge enamel dutch oven (probably what you're talking about!) Thanks for the visit!

  4. i've been slowly trying to swap out all of our bakeware for pampered chef stoneware. i love the stones i have, there are a few more on my list, though! my non-stick stuff (i think i only have two skillets) is next on the agenda. :)

    1. I've been pretty happy with my glass (new and old pyrex) bakeware, but oh I'd love some stone bakeware!

  5. Hi Molly,
    I just found your blog and love it. Cast iron is amazing. I was not a fan for a long time but once I learned to care for it properly I fell in love. Just my two cents!If you like camping it's also perfect for camping trips. Dutch oven chili with skillet cornbread around a campfire might be my favorite meal ever.

    1. Nicaela - Cast Iron is the best for camping! - we've got a campfire dutch oven (though now that I mention it it's been a while since we've gotten it out, it probably needs some attention) I think my favorite is "Egg in a hole" Toast for breakfast!

  6. I have 1 stainless steel skillet (acquired at a fundraiser yardsale) I bought it for about $3 and my Honey had to put a new wooden handle on it. I like it pretty well, though it doesn't evenly distribute the heat like you said.
    All my other cooking is done in cast iron-- I have a huge 20 inch skillet bought brand new for me when I was a young bride--The Honey bought it at a flea market and I love to cook on the stove and then pop it in the oven (for casseroles) I also have a 10 inch and a pretty small one I think 5 inch, maybe? perfect for cornbread! yummie.
    I love the cast iron for that reason-- stove top to oven. Very easy. This past summer I bought a Bean Pot w/ lid at Canton First Monday -- paid $20 for it but well worth it.

    I do have a couple of WareEver (?) or is it Ever Ware aluminum pots but I hardly use those anymore. They don't have the teflon in them.

    My question to you is;
    YOU SAID: look around at the new studies about the potential hazards of aluminum and teflon
    is it only dangerous if these are together? Or do you mean at the individual materials? Is it ok to use just aluminum w/o the teflon?

    thanks for this post-- I found it thought provoking!


    1. I've been reading some articles about concerns about aluminum leaching into acidic foods - though the process anodized aluminum goes through is supposed to limit that, but combine that with the fact that many anodized aluminum pans have a non-stick coating (which has it's own health concerns) which wears and chips away with time and it becomes it's own issue. There might be new studies and information that comes out about aluminum and nonstick (teflon) coatings, but for my peace of mind I'd rather go with some tried and true.

      That being said, if I can't find a stainless steel option that appeals to me I think I will give anodized aluminum - ideally without any additional nonstick coatings a try!

  7. I found a good size cast iron skillet made by Lodge at Goodwill which is my go-to pan for almost anything. We're also fortunate to have a copper pot that my mom gave to us. I would keep an eye out at thrift stores just in case you run across something.

  8. I have found Le Crueset at our thrift store! It has made me the happiest mama. I love cast iron but it can really be a pain. I am a fan of your blog, we seem to have similar desires for our family. :)


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