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Straw Pan

September 14, 2018

Drinking straws are apparently killing the planet.

Look, I get the idea that small changes can have a big impact. I do. And I support the campaign of awareness to try and convince people to use fewer straws. That said, I think there is some lower hanging fruit. Actually, there is a lot of lower hanging fruit.

One of the issues I am passionate about also has something to do with my recent cookware purchase and my new kitchen project. So let’s combine all of those things together into one ranty—and hopefully informative—post on cookware.

Recently a friend of mine was interested in buying some new non stick cookware. So she went onto Facebook looking for recommendations. What I heard from the chorus of voices was shocking, but probably should not have been surprising.

As you probably know, the problem with most non stick cookware is that the non stick surface can degrade over time. It can get scratched, and the coating can peel, flake, and get into your food.

Now some people just continue to cook on these old and damaged pans. I guess they figure they’re going to die of something, so what’s a little bit of Teflon in their diet. Actually, it’s not the Teflon you need to worry about, it’s the perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA.

But even if you aren’t worried about the health benefits, who wants little black flakes of cookware on their food? Not me. No thanks.

These days, non stick pans can be found relatively cheaply and are widely available. So to combat the degradation of the “miracle” coating, I learned on Facebook that there are a lot of people who simply replace their pans about once a year.

Whoa. Let’s stop and think about that for a minute. My mind boggles from the waste.

We have lived in a disposable culture for so long, that the madness of this probably does not occur to many people. In the Fussy household, we try to get as much use out of everything before it gets tossed into the recycling or the trash. But even we fail more than I would like to admit.

Part of the problem here has to do with a lack of knowledge about cooking techniques and equipment, and a lack of confidence in cooking skills. Let me say this very slowly.

Non stick pans are almost entirely unnecessary for most cooking tasks. Full stop.

If you are going to be scrambling eggs, making pancakes, or frying up cheese crisps, non stick pans are a lifesaver. And there is an option beyond the heavy cast iron skillets I’ve recommended for years.

I’m talking about carbon steel pans. They are very much like their cast iron cousins, but they are a good bit lighter and easier to manage. The 9.5” Mauviel French steel one I just bought is now hanging on my new peg board. The layout is still a work in progress. I need to get some special hooks to put smaller item on the very top.

You can see my new pan on the bottom in between the All-Clad stainless steel and the cast iron skillets. It is yet to be seasoned. Heck, the tag is still on it. I’ve been busy. But hopefully soon it will take on a darker patina and release scrambled eggs and omelets just as easily as my older pans.

I bought it so that the kids, who have weaker arms, can start doing some of their own egg cookery. Plus, making a French omelet is really going to be easier for me with a lighter pan. The technique requires a lot of pan movement, and while I can do it with the cast iron, it’s really not the right tool for the job.

If you’ll take a look at the pegboard pic one more time, you’ll notice that all of the pans I have collected are built to last. The stainless steel is entirely All Clad which comes with a lifetime warranty. Sure, they are expensive. But I have collected them slowly, over time. Some were gifts, however most I purchased for myself.

With the exception of the cast iron and the carbon steel, all of those pans are gloriously full stick. That means when cooking, foods can properly caramelize, and the pans can be deglazed for quick pan sauces. For the record, I haven’t burned anything in them, nor have they been the cause of any kitchen disasters.

Should you find yourself cooking everything in non stick pans, let’s talk. My hope is to free people from the tyranny of non stick cookware, and open folks up to the experience of cooking with confidence.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 14, 2018 11:20 am

    You have way too many pans.

    I have a couple of non stick pans which I use occasionally for omelettes. (When I went to chef school we were required to buy our own non-stick omelette pan.) Not worrying about them getting beat up enough to peel. Have also tried a ceramic non-stick pan and it lost its non-stickiness almost immediately.

    The carbon steel alternative is interesting. Please report back after you’ve seasoned it and used it for awhile.

    • September 14, 2018 1:45 pm

      Looking at the pic, which of those pans would you have me cast aside?

      Because I find them all to be useful, and none of them to be redundant. Well, maybe one is redundant. But it’s so small that it barely takes up any space. And sometimes you need a second small sauce pan.

      • September 14, 2018 9:56 pm

        I can’t enlarge the picture so there may be some detail I can’t see. But it looks like you have 3 basically identical small high-sided pans I assume you use for melting butter. 2 of those can go. And what is that little tiny cast iron pan? A novelty item?

        You don’t tell us where this is located in your kitchen but if it is close to the stove the whisks and strainers are going to get grease on them so you will have to clean before using. I would put those in a drawer or a separate counter location.

  2. Ewan permalink
    September 14, 2018 2:45 pm

    I do use non-stick for anything that involves sauteing or similar. Purely for cleanup reasons: not worried about being able to cook just fine in any pan, really, but the additional time and effort to remove burnt-on gunk from base metal is a huge hurdle for us.

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