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Tramontina Tri-Ply 5 Quart Stockpot?

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  • mliew May 12, 2009 10:37 PM
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Does anyone know if Tramontina makes a tri-ply 5 quart stockpot? I've been thinking about buying the 8-quart model that Walmart sells but I really don't need something that large. I tried looking at the Tramontina USA website but it seems to be under construction and doesn't contain much information.

If a 5-quart model does exist, I might wait and hope Walmart starts to carry it. Otherwise maybe I'll pick up the 8-quart.

Thanks.

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  1. http://www.125west.com/Tramontina_Tri...
    Yes, it appears there is a 5-quart "casserole with lid," pictured in the eight piece set, but also available separately. I think there seems to be a big difference in price btwn the item there and what you see at Walmart--whether it's the same product, can't say, don't know.
    Then there's this: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produc... which has the 5-quart included.
    The eight quart is going to allow you more options--sorry if stating the obvious. I find a five quart can be a little tight if making chicken soup from scratch with a whole chicken. I also prefer making pasta and all stocks in my eight.
    Consider this, if you will. I purchased a 6-quart Lodge enameled dutch oven at Walmart; it was on clearance for around $40 after Christmas 2008. (I LOVE this Lodge product, btw, and use it all the time.) Just this evening, I purchased a six and one-half quart Calphalon Contemporary Stainless sauce pot for $30, and a five quart Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick saucier for $40--both on clearance at Dillard's department store. Just thought I might present some figures and options for you in case you aren't dead set on the Tramontina Tri-Ply. The Tramontina products have gotten great reviews in Cook's Illustrated magazine, and I've been tempted by them myself--went for the aforementioned Lodge oven instead.
    Apologies if this is too much information. May your kitchen be filled with good food and great friends.

    1. If you're going to use this as a real stock pot or even a pasta pot, I STRONGLY suggest you go with an 8 quart. 5 quarts really isn't that big, and hell, even 8 quarts isn't that large when you're talking stock or pasta.

      1 Reply
      1. re: SQHD

        Tramontina makes four items in its 18/10 tri-ply all-clad line which are essentially similar but are designated differently.

        All are cylindrical.

        All have a fitted cover and two polished stainless steel handles.

        Item 80116/016 is the 5-qt. covered Dutch oven. 24cm diameter lid.

        Item 80116/017 is the 6-qt. covered sauce pot. Also 24cm diameter lid.

        Item 80116/019 is the 8-qt. covered stock pot. Also 24cm diameter lid. Sold by Wal-Mart including the 80116/026 deep, footed pasta insert, which is not available separately (except, possibly, directly from Tramontina).

        Item 80116/020 is the 12-qt. covered stock pot. 28cm diameter lid.

        When you remove the lids and the insert, all of these items are identical in shape and function, and differ only in height and a little in diameter, and obviously a lot in capacity.

      2. mliew, Unless you have a kitchen that needs an auxiliary radiator, I cannot imagine why you would want any stockpot with aluminum sandwich construction all the way up the sides. The ideal configuration for a stockpot would be one where the walls of the pot are effective insulators, so that heat applied to the bottom of the stockpot spreads through the liquid inside by convection, but as much of that heat as possible stays INSIDE the pot. The efficient heat conduction of the aluminum in the sandwich construction, however, facilitates the transmission of heat from the liquid inside to the OUTSIDE of the pot, heating the kitchen. Or, looking at the flow of heat from the other side, the cooler air within the kitchen that circulates around the outside of the pot effectively robs the heat that you are applying to the bottom of the pot through the efficient conduction of heat through the sides of the pot.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Politeness

          Wow - that's thinking a bit too hard.

          If you're such an expert in stockpot construction, why didn't you mention a brand or style that we could choose from?

          1. re: SQHD

            SQHD, no claim of expertise was made. There are different tools for different purposes: you do not use a hammer to shorten a piece of lumber or a saw to pound in a nail. Sandwich construction extending up the sides of the cooking vessel is appropriate for sautéing, but not for stock pots; on the other hand, you would not sauté in a stockpot.

            Here is one stock pot I can recommend without reservation, but there may well be many others just as well suited for the specific task to which you wish to put them. http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?CI...
            Here's another excellent choice, which you probably could get for less monetary outlay: http://www.amazon.com/Berndes-Cucinar...

            There are many others available in restaurant supply houses, I am sure. Look for a thick sandwich (aluminum or copper disk) base and stainless steel sides. All-stainless sidewalls work almost as insulators compared with other pot materials.

        2. Thanks for the suggestions and links everyone. I have a slow cooker that I usually use for making chicken soup from scratch and usually when I cook pasta it's only for two people so a 5-quart should suffice for that, however I can see that an 8-quart is probably more versatile so maybe I'll give it a try.

          Politeness, so basically you're saying that a clad stockpot is not the way to go and that an aluminum disk base is the best? I would think that the advantage of having the stock pot clad is that the heat would distribute more evenly so it would be easier to control something like a simmer. Even though having the walls conduct would allow heat to flow out of the pot, heating up the kitchen it seems that it would also help keep whatever is inside the pot at a more consistent temperature as well.

          15 Replies
          1. re: mliew

            When making a stock the thing to consider is that you're not creating as much of a "radiator" as some would like to imagine. Stocks are cooked at a low heat so any radiation isn't exactly going to melt the dining room table candles in the next room, if you get my drift.

            1. re: mliew

              mliew: "so basically you're saying that a clad stockpot is not the way to go and that an aluminum disk base is the best? I would think that the advantage of having the stock pot clad is that the heat would distribute more evenly so it would be easier to control something like a simmer."

              Yes, that is basically what I was suggesting. The only place you want to distribute the heat evenly is where the heat is applied, at the bottom. The nature of fluids is that heat rises, whether the fluid is air or the liquids you have in your stockpot. Over time, with heat applied to the bottom of the pot, the fluid at the bottom rises and displaces the fluid at the top, which sinks down to the bottom and gets heated to rise again. Applying heat from the side actually disrupts those current flows inside the pot. However, the low heat of a simmer is not going to end up heating the liquid from the side anyway. At any point on the side of the pot, the outside of the pot will be cooler than the inside of the pot, and so any heat conducted through the sandwich layer of a tri-ply pot would mostly go toward the cooler, outside, direction than toward the warmer, inside, direction. As SQHD points out, the heat needed to keep a pot on simmer is not likely to melt the dining room candles, but of the heat that you do apply to the bottom of the stockpot, most of it will end up going out into the room without having passed through, or providing any benefit to, the contents of the stockpot.

              There used to be a lengthy discussion of the principles on the old Demeyere website, which contained enough information for an entry level college course. The Demeyere website has been streamlined in recent years, but the Knife Merchant apparently copied off a snippet of the copy from the old website for republication at its site:

              "As the worlds only producer of cookware made specifically to suit different cooking methods Maurits Demeyere, Jr. has taken his company to the forefront of innovation in pan design. The technological requirements are quite different for boiling, frying, stir frying, casseroling etc. Therefore the construction of each type needs to have a different technology application. For example the saucepans and stockpots have conductive cores on the bottom to focus the heat to where it is needed. Adding heat-conducting metals on the side of the saucepan would draw the heat from the bottom to the side making a pan hard to control and a radiator of heat. " http://www.knifemerchant.com/products...

              And see page 32 of this very long .pdf file: http://www.demeyere.be/media/demeyere...

              Here's another line of stockpots that you might look into: http://www.previninc.com/cgi-bin/quik...

              1. re: Politeness

                "the heat that you do apply to the bottom of the stockpot, most of it will end up going out into the room without having passed through, or providing any benefit to, the contents of the stockpot"

                So based on that theory the heat knows how to radiate ONLY into the air and NOT into the stock pot liquid? I didn't realize my burner heat was that smart.

                1. re: SQHD

                  SQHD: "So based on that theory the heat knows how to radiate ONLY into the air and NOT into the stock pot liquid? I didn't realize my burner heat was that smart."

                  Please quote me correctly; I wrote that MOST of the heat will end up going into the room, not all of it. Assuming (as I think is reasonable) that throughout most of the cooking cycle the air in the room is cooler than the liquid inside the stock pot, what I wrote was a simple local application of Fourier's Law, one of the variables of which is the heat gradient between the two conductors at the boundary.

                  Fourier's Law suggests that the energy transfer will be preferential toward the cooler of the two fluids flanking the side of the pot. Your burner will heat up the the bottom of the pot, and the aluminum heat conductor sandwiched between the two stainless layers of the side of the pot will conduct the heat away from the base, where it usefully could heat the liquid inside the pot, up the sides of the pot instead. Once that heat reaches the walls of the pot, more of it will be conducted toward the cool side of the steel-aluminum-steel sandwich than to the warm side; that is, most of the heat will go to the room, not to the contents of the pot.

                  And if you think that strange, consider the well known phenomenon (the Mpemba Effect) that hot water freezes faster than cold water. http://lanl.arxiv.org/PS_cache/physic...

                  1. re: Politeness

                    OK now you're getting a little scientific! And for reference, I did quote you correctly. I, however was incorrect at stating that the heat would "only" radiate into the air, my fault. Without doing any reading on Fourier's law, how does density of a fluid affect the result of heating? Obviously water is far more dense than air.

                    As I understand it Fourier's law is only valid when the densities, pressure, and mass of the two fluids or objects is equal. Basically everything but temperature must be equal. Am I not correct?

                    Also, I think you're suggesting that the heat from the burner would be transferred away from the base and up the sides of the pot. "[C]onduct the heat away from the base, where it usefully could heat the liquid inside the pot, up the sides of the pot instead." That's true to an extent but in saying that you're implying that the sides of the pot are now hotter than the base, and that the base does not serve as a heating area, which simply is not the case.

                    1. re: SQHD

                      SQHD: "As I understand it Fourier's law is only valid when the densities, pressure, and mass of the two fluids or objects is equal. Basically everything but temperature must be equal. Am I not correct?"

                      No, that is not correct. If a person is attempting to prove (or disprove) Fourier's Law (or for that matter, to prove or disprove any proposition about the physical world), it is useful to eliminate as many variables as possible, so that only the single process need be taken into account or described. Therefore, in some discussions of Fourier's Law, hypothetical situations of identical materials of equal mass are posited to isolate the operation.

                      However, in practical application, there always will be variables , and those are taken into account in the values that are assigned the specific terms that appear within the expression of Fourier's Law as an equation.

                      SQHD: "Also, I think you're suggesting that the heat from the burner would be transferred away from the base and up the sides of the pot. '[C]onduct the heat away from the base, where it usefully could heat the liquid inside the pot, up the sides of the pot instead.' That's true to an extent but in saying that you're implying that the sides of the pot are now hotter than the base, and that the base does not serve as a heating area, which simply is not the case."

                      SQHD, you are reading much more into what I wrote than the words would support. Just as a wire conducts electricity away from an electrical outlet to the light bulb that lights your room, the aluminum layer in a three-ply pot conducts heat away from the base to the sides of the pot. But, as long as replacement energy is being supplied by the burner at the base of the pot, the conduction of heat up the sides of the pot does not diminish the temperature of the base of the pot any more than the light bulb at the end of the electrical cord depletes the electricity at the electrical outlet. Because of transmission losses, the farther you get away from the energy source, the less of the energy will complete the destination, so the center core of the three-ply material will be cooler the farther it is from the source of heat at the bottom of the pot.

                      Where I may have confused you was my reference to the waste of the heat that is conducted up the sides of the pot. If a quantum amount of energy applied as heat to the bottom of the pot does NOT get expended in heating the sides of the pot (which, in turn, heat the air in the room), then that quantum of energy will get transmitted as heat through the base of the pot to the liquid inside, which, presumably, is the reason you are applying energy to the bottom of the pot in the first place.

                    2. re: Politeness

                      "Once that heat reaches the walls of the pot, more of it will be conducted toward the cool side of the steel-aluminum-steel sandwich than to the warm side; that is, most of the heat will go to the room, not to the contents of the pot."

                      I wondered about that because I have an aluminum stock pot that at one time I thought must be tremendously inefficient. But it is not hard to simmer in it on low heat, so how much heat can it be losing to the surrounding air?

                      More heat might transfer to the cooler of the two fluids, except the liquid in the pot has a much higher thermal conductivity than the air around it. In fact the conductivity of water is 24 times that of air. Think about putting your arm in a 300 degree F oven, even a convection oven. No big deal. Imagine putting your arm in 150 degree water. Ouch! Even though the water is not nearly as hot, it would hurt because its conductivity is so much higher.

                      Think about holding you hand 1/2" above the surface of a hot pan. Not a problem. That is radiation and/or convection. Now imagine pressing your hand against that same hot surface. Ouch! That's conduction.

                      Much more heat will be transferred into the liquid in the pot than the surrounding air. Will an aluminum or tri-ply pot transfer more heat into the surrounding air than a pot with plain SS sides? Some, but air is a very good insulator and who cares, since you don't need a lot of heat, and any pot with a lid will easily simmer liquid.

                      The real issue is that a disk bottom stock pot is a more economical. Tri-ply cookware is expensive, and you are paying for conductivity in the pot sides that is not really necessary because stock is waterey and conducts heat well. All-Clad SS stock pots have a disk bottom in the largest size, because a fully clad pot would just be too expensive. The extra cost of tri-ply cookware is better used in applications like sauciers, where you want to get lots of heat into the pan to encourage evaporation, like reducing a sauce. Tri-ply is also recommended by some people for a fry pan, where food like bacon or a large piece of fish may touch the gently curved sides of the pan.

                      I have a strange personality defect where I like matching stuff. To the OP, buy a tri-ply stock pot if you want, but consider if a cheaper disk bottom one would serve your needs as well.

                      1. re: BruceMcK

                        Thanks for the well-informed post Bruce!

                        1. re: BruceMcK

                          BruceMcK: "I have an aluminum stock pot that at one time I thought must be tremendously inefficient. But it is not hard to simmer in it on low heat, so how much heat can it be losing to the surrounding air?"

                          Possibly, a very high percentage. You have just described the method by which the dormitories at my college were heated back when the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth. The rooms had radiators in them, through which hot water, heated in the college's giant central boiler, flowed. Within the dormitory room, air convection currents circulated around the radiator and kept the room's occupants toasty warm even though the outside temperatures there in Central Massachusetts sometimes dropped below -20 degrees F. or lower. Of course, due to the central boiler continuing to supply heat to the water when it recirculated back there, the water throughout the system continued to be very hot inside the pipes -- well above a simmer -- despite the fact that the radiators were "losing" heat. As long as external heat is applied to a closed container of liquid in which convection currents may flow, the liquid may be maintained at just about any temperature.

                          BruceMcK: "More heat might transfer to the cooler of the two fluids, except the liquid in the pot has a much higher thermal conductivity than the air around it. In fact the conductivity of water is 24 times that of air. Think about putting your arm in a 300 degree F oven, even a convection oven. No big deal. Imagine putting your arm in 150 degree water. Ouch! Even though the water is not nearly as hot, it would hurt because its conductivity is so much higher."

                          Yes, but the situations are not apposite. The issue is what is happening to the energy that is conducted through the aluminum filling of the sandwich construction up the side of the pot. There, it has layers of stainless steel on either side of it.

                          On one side, the stainless steel is sandwiched between the aluminum and the liquid inside the pot, which liquid is being heated from below, and convection currents are constantly bringing hot liquid upward from the bottom of the pot. The temperature of that liquid is likely to be very close to the temperature of the aluminum filling in the sandwich of the wall of the pot -- it is easy to think of circumstances (strong convection currents, more likely under high heat) where the liquid inside the pot may actually be hotter than the aluminum sandwich filling (which, having a thin profile, is not as efficient a heat conductor as the thick disks often seen at the bottom of pots).

                          On the other side of the aluminum middle layer of a three-ply pot is a layer of stainless steel that is fully exposed to the outside air, which always will be cooler than the liquid inside the pot.

                          Conducted heat always flows from the warmer location to the cooler location. To which layer of stainless steel will the heat in the aluminum middle layer of the three-ply sidewall flow, toward the steel layer on the inside that has been heated by the liquid inside the pot, or toward the steel layer on the outside that has been cooled by the air in the room?

                          1. re: Politeness

                            There were not any dinosaurs roaming earth when I was in university, but there were lots of undergrad engineers wandering around with calculators on their belts. I'm not sure which was more primitive. (Just kidding.)

                            "Conducted heat always flows from the warmer location to the cooler location. To which layer of stainless steel will the heat in the aluminum middle layer of the three-ply sidewall flow, toward the steel layer on the inside that has been heated by the liquid inside the pot, or toward the steel layer on the outside that has been cooled by the air in the room?"

                            I believe that more heat will flow into the liquid in the pot than the air surrounding it. We can agree that heat is conducted from hot to cold. It's a good thing too. Otherwise how would we cook food? We would have to use microwaves. Yikes. Fourier's law also has a variable for thermal conductivity. The conductivity of water is more than 20x that of air. That will have a far greater impact than the temperature difference (about 30% in degrees K). What will drive more heat: 20x the conductivity, or 30% more temperature? So more heat will flow into the watery liquid than the air surrounding the pot.

                            The comparison to radiators does not hold water, if you can excuse the pun. The radiators you mentioned sound like steam radiators. Steam condenses in the radiators, releasing a lot of heat. Radiant heaters usually have a lot of surface area. Think about the openings in the radiators you mentioned, the metal fins on a baseboard heater or under-floor radiant heat that has lots of pipes and turns the whole floor into a radiant heater. A pot on a stove is not a great radiator.

                            We can debate theory and physics endlessly, but a tri-ply or aluminum stock pot will simmer liquid on low heat. If they are not efficient they would need to be turned up higher to maintain a simmer.

                            You don't have to believe me. The eGullet Guide to Stovetop Cooking recommends using a straight gauge (tri-ply) pot for getting a lot of heat into a pan, like for reducing a liquid, due to the fact that heat conducted up the sides flows into the pot.

                            1. re: BruceMcK

                              BruceMcK: "a tri-ply or aluminum stock pot will simmer liquid on low heat. If they are not efficient they would need to be turned up higher to maintain a simmer."

                              Low heat is an elusive concept. It does not require much heat to maintain even a moderately large pot (of any construction) at simmering temperature. We used to have a couple of Wearever stamped aluminum pots and some Club brand cast aluminum pots that were excellent conductors throughout; we could maintain a simmer at a low setting on the range that we had at the time -- and heat the room at the same time. (When we turned up the burner, we could heat the room even faster.)

                              The question we have been discussing is not whether a pot with a three-ply sandwich construction can be used for simmering; we can all agree that it can. Rather, the issue is whether the sandwich construction is the most efficient way to achieve that end without hot spots and without adding to the air conditioning load in the kitchen.

                              As for the hot spots, while aluminum is a pretty good heat conductor, its efficacy is directly related to its thickness. Among the pots that are constructed with aluminum disks on the bottom, the better ones have disks that are 4 mm or 5mm, sometimes as much as 7 mm, thick. (Copper-disk pots need a copper disk that is only 2 mm to 2.5 mm thick, because copper is a much better heat conductor than aluminum.) That thickness is what makes the disks efficacious in spreading the heat rapidly and evenly across the base of the pot. The inner aluminum layer of a three-ply pot is much thinner than 4 mm, and not nearly as effective therefore.

                              But to the extent that the thin inner aluminum ply is effective, it is effective in conducting heat that is applied to the base, where it will heat the liquid inside the pot most efficiently, up the sides of the pot, where it is very ineffective for heating the liquid inside the pot, but moderately effective in heating the room.

                              Try this thought experiment: you are given a kettle full of water and a blow torch and asked to heat the water. Where do you apply the blow torch, on the sides of the kettle or on the bottom of the kettle? On the bottom, of course, because when you heat the water at the bottom of the kettle, it will create convection currents inside that will distribute the heat applied to the bottom throughout the kettle. You could heat the water somewhat by pointing the blow torch at the side of the kettle, but, at the same torch setting as you would use for the bottom, it would take much much longer to bring the water -- especially the water at the bottom of the pot -- to a boil. Every electric kettle on the market, bar none, has a heating element in the bottom only, and none in the side, of the kettle; there's a reason for that.

                              Now imagine that you are in a small room in winter that has no furnace, no fireplace, but does have a portable electric burner and a supply of pots. How would you heat that room most effectively? You could turn the burner on directly, and the air directly above the burner would heat up somewhat, as would air that passes across the burner as a breeze. But you could greatly increase the efficiency of the burner as room heater by putting a tall pot of water atop the burner and heating the water. That increases the heated surface area exposed to the air currents in the room, and the room will be much more effectively heated.

                              Now suppose that in that small room in winter, your task is to heat up as much water as fast as possible for use by people outside the room (beverages, hot water bottles, etc.). What you would do then is use that burner to heat up a pot the sides of which have been as thoroughly insulated as practicable to keep the heat inside the pot with minimal leakage to the room. That is exactly the prescription of the United States Department of Energy for residential water heaters: http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home...

                              So, if you want to use the heat that your range or cooktop supplies to the bottom of your pot to heat the contents of the pot (or to keep the contents of the pot warm), your best bet is a pot that has a thick conductive bottom and side walls that are insulated like an energy-efficient residential water heater, or like the better electric kettles with "stay-cool" side walls. If, on the other hand, your desire is to heat your kitchen from your cooking, then the most efficient means to that end is to have a pot with highly conductive side walls.

                              1. re: BruceMcK

                                BruceMcK: "Fourier's law also has a variable for thermal conductivity. The conductivity of water is more than 20x that of air. That will have a far greater impact than the temperature difference (about 30% in degrees K). What will drive more heat: 20x the conductivity, or 30% more temperature? So more heat will flow into the watery liquid than the air surrounding the pot."

                                In a previous post, I responded to this, but perhaps my expression was inadequate. The middle aluminum ply of the side of a three-ply pot does not have liquid on one side and air on the other; it has a layer of stainless steel on both sides. The conduction of heat from the aluminum center layer is to the adjacent stainless steel layer, not directly to the liquid inside the pot or to the air outside the pot.

                                Stainless steel is a very poor conductor of heat, almost an insulator, though the layers of it in a three-ply pot are fairly thin, and that thinness mitigates its insulating properties. In a pot constructed of stainless steel with a disk at the bottom, the walls of the pot are likely to have a greater thickness of stainless steel than the combined total of the two outer layers of the three-ply material.

                                Also, due to circulation of air in the room, the total volume of the cool air that comes in contact with the stainless steel layer on the outside of the pot is likely to be many multiples of 20x the volume of the warm liquid that contacts the stainless steel layer inside the pot.

                      2. re: Politeness

                        Politeness, thanks for your great help! I like the idea of the heat coming up only from the bottom. We're a household of two. We have a tiny kitchen and I don't want a lot of redundant pots and pans. We don't want to buy sets.

                        I ordered a Calphalon hard anodized everday pot and made chicken/rice/lemon juice. It cooked and cleaned great. Amazon stated in the description that it was "non-reactive". I was disappointed that the lemon deanodized the interior of the pan after the first use. Calphalon is sending me another. Amazon says that when Calphalon sends me the replacement that I can send that back to them. What a hassle.

                        I want a pan that I can cook everything in and move it from stovetop to oven. After making myself more knowledgeable about cookware materials, I think I should go with tri ply stainless steel. I think I'll get the Calphalon 12" tri ply SS everyday pan.
                        It appears that anything can be cooked in tri ply SS without concern of reacting to acidic foods, great for searing and deglazing, braising. If I heat the pan, then add oil and let that heat up and then add room temp meat, I should have no problem with deglazing/cleaning.

                        These are the basic pans I think we'll need:
                        1) For most of my cooking (tomato sauces, searing, sauteing, braising, deglazing), I can use the Calphalon tri ply SS 12 everyday pan. Apprx $70.
                        2) For eggs/omellettes I was thinking of a replaceable 12" non stick for plenty of room, slight sauteing, and for easy clean up. Apprx $30.
                        3) For cooking pasta noodles, chili and chicken soup for two: an 8qt SS stock pot with just the bottom with an aluminum sandwiched bottom. But what is the nominclature of such a pot with only the bottom aluminum sandwiched at the bottom as opposed to all the way up the sides so I can find one? Can we find a decent one for around $40?

                        Thanks for any advice. We're both just starting out on our own and beginning to learn about cooking and it's very interesting.

                        1. re: sylvan

                          sylvan, my first impression is that you are looking at pots and pans that are too large for a household of two. My spouse and I are empty-nesters, and so we, also, are back to a household of two. Here is what we find adequate.

                          Taking your 1), 2), 3) in reverse order, for all but some once- or twice-a-year cooking events, we use no pot or pan exceeding 3.2 liters. That one, by the way, is a Demeyere Apollo "mussel pot" ($63.00 at http://www.knifemerchant.com/%5Ccatal... -- you may find it cheaper elsewhere), which is very versatile: the "high domed lid" is perfect as a place to bread cutlets; we use it to coat beef cubes for stew with peppered flour before dropping them into the mussel pot where we already have browned diced garlic in olive oil as the first step in making a stew. We use the domed lid -- which is actually flat at the peak of the dome -- by itself for dipping slices of bread into the egg mixture when we make French toast (in the fry pan described below). That mussel pot is the pot that we usually use to cook spaghetti and other pasta, also.

                          For scrambled eggs and omlettes, and also for a rasher or two of bacon, we never have found anything that matches a 7½" Copco Michael Lax enameled fry pan exactly like this one http://cgi.ebay.com/Blue-COPCO-Enamel... currently (ending date July 6) on auction at eBay, with a current high bid of $9.00, which I trust is well within your budget. (I have no connection with or knowledge about the seller.)

                          For daily "small jobs," such as vegetables and oatmeal, and such, you will find that a 1.6 liter or 1.7 liter saucepan is just about right. You certainly, in the long run, will want more than one, but I suggest that you get a pretty good one now that you will decide that you want to keep when you add others in the future. Here is a solid entry-level one to look at, http://www.irawoods.com/Berndes-06383... There are many other similar choices at about the same quality and price. You will never feel compelled to throw such pots away; you will just add others to your collection eventually. (Do not let the reference to induction at the example page scare you off if you do not have an induction cooktop; that pot is a well-constructed stainless pot with a thick encapsulated aluminum sandwich disk in the base, which makes it very suitable for any kind of cooking surface. )

                          For those few instances when we do need a really large pot (after Thanksgiving, we usually put the entire carcass of the turkey into a pot and simmer it for several hours to start a soup, for instance), we use an old thin-profile West Bend stainless pot of about 7 qt. capacity that my mother probably inherited from her mother. The pot -- except for the family ties -- is certainly nothing special, and you undoubtedly could get as good or better very cheaply at Tuesday Morning or -- even more cheaply -- at a yard sale. The kinds of tasks for which you use really large pots tend to require low heat and no special technology, and just about any pot will do. (Unless you want to cook tomatos, when you will want to avoid using aluminum pots.)

                        2. re: Politeness

                          BTW, considering that the temperature outside is 112 degrees today and I rely on an evaporative cooler to cool my house I appreciate the tip on heating from the bottom of the stock pot rather than the heat radiating from all sides.