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Sep 5, 2009 01:37 PM

Should I keep my Le Creuset round oven?

I bought a beautiful mustard yellow LC round oven a week ago on a whim. I know it's high quality, and it'll last me a lifetime and a half, but I'm starting to feel guilty that I can't justify spending the money since I already have a crockpot for all the braises and stews that I do. I know the end results are probably noticeably different, but as a student who is short on cash and time, is the crockpot so bad after all?

I know they are entirely separate issues, but I'm currently eyeing a food processor, which I can buy using the money that I get for returning the LC and I still would have money left over. Despite being a student, I love home cooking and do a lot of it, so I would like to get the most out of the money I spent on furnishing my kitchen. That said, I love the dutch oven to bits and it'll break my heart to let it go.

What do you think?

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  1. Heart (dutch oven) vs. head (food processor and crockpot) is never easy.

    I doubt you'll be a student forever, and even if you are, you still need to eat well.

    otoh, isn't there someone you can mention this to, just before they start their holiday shopping?

    Good luck!

    1. I've got nothing bad to say about LC ovens. I have five of them, and use them often. But in your shoes I'd return it. A dutch oven is a lot more versatile than a crock pot, so I'd suggest you have both, but there are lines of enameled cast iron that work just as well as Le Creuset and cost a whole lot less money. You can maximize the bang for your buck by purchasing a food processor and a relatively inexpensive enameled dutch oven.

      2 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Alan is right, as usual. If your budget has you trading one for another, it would make sense to check out the new Lodge enamel cast iron or Mario Batali or any of the others that are much less expensive. If there is any way to keep the LC Dutch oven, it will last you a lifetime, but I have a hunch that the other brands may last a long time too as long as they are properly cared for. I've had some of my LC for more than 30 years, and I have a crockpot also. You can cook more things in an enameled cast iron Dutch oven than a crockpot, so you really should have one in your kitchen. You may just have to compromise a little on which brand until you can afford to spend more on the one pot.

        Personally, I hardly ever use a food processor. I did many years ago when I used to bake a lot of pies, but that was a long time ago. I am far more likely to cut and chop with good knives, as one of the other posters suggests. That said, there are things that only a food processor can do, and if you are not cooking some things that you like because you need a food processor, it makes sense to take Alan's suggestion and just spend less money on the Dutch oven for now.

        1. re: alanbarnes

          I agree with Alan, too. I was in a similar situation when I started cooking, and I think a food processor is far more useful in the kitchen than even the most gorgeous dutch oven. That said, have you considered a mini-food processor (around $40). I use mine every day and rarely pull out the big one now. Also, consider a 2-qt LC if you're mostly cooking for 1 or 2. You can usually find great deals on the smaller sizes.

        2. Return the LC and get the food processor. You'll get a lot more use out of the processor now and later. You've already got a crockpot for stews, etc. You can always buy the round LC dutch oven later when you're out of school and making a buck. You'll be happier this way!

          1. you can cook things in the dutch oven that you can't in a crock pot. Try searing or browning meat in a crockpot, for example. You should keep the dutch oven if you're serious about cooking. Conversely, since I've acquired good knives and have developed reasonable skills, I almost never use my food processor. It's not really necessary, IMO

            3 Replies
            1. re: chuckl

              I say you return the LC and buy a couple of good knives instead of the food processor.

              1. re: pothead

                No doubt quality cutlery is important, but I'll put my Cuisinart up against your "couple of good knives" any day for making pastry crust, kneading biscuits, or whipping up a compound butter.

              2. re: chuckl

                FPs do a lot more than replace knives. Return the LC and get the FP and a knife

              3. Most respondents have told you why you should return the LC, and they make sense.

                I'm going to take the other side of the argument, and I think it also makes sense.

                But first I'm going to mention one caveat. If having bought this means that you will not be able to any bills you might have, you should return it. I'm not sure that this is this case, because you seem to want to trade it in for a food processor. But, just in case--remember, you can wreck your credit rating and thereby limit your life for YEARS as easily being a young student, as you can being an established 35-, 45-, 65-year-old. So if you owe anybody any money, or if you're worried about paying your expenses in the coming months, return the LC and *don't* buy the food processor right now.

                If that's not the case, then let me mention some of the reasons to keep it, just so you can think about this from both angles.

                1) There are times in life when you just have to give in to love. I'm serious about that. It can be about people, or places, but sometimes it can be about things that give you joy, make your life easier in some way, or motivate you to improve some kind of skill you'll use throughout life. Any of those reasons are legitimate.

                I'm pretty careful about money. I don't buy a lot of "stuff" and I hardly ever pay full price. But as someone who is probably farther along in life than you are (not sure, so I don't want to assume), I can tell you that the purchases I've regretted in life have been things I haven't loved. OTOH, there were a few items earlier on in adulthood that I fell for, hook, line and sinker, that I had no business buying. They were too expensive for me at the time. There were other things I could have spent my money on that would have fulfilled a greater range of practical needs. You know what? Those things that I felt passion for, but which comprised a financial stretch, are the things that I've kept through the decades, that I've either gotten much use out of, or which have simply brightened one home after another, as I've traveled along, and restored my spirit in some way every time I use them or look at them. I'm looking right now at several oil paintings--not priceless masters, by any means...not even particularly expensive as these things go, but certainly a stretch for my budget at the times that I bought them--and I had to have them. They still sing to my soul, every day. I keep them right here in my kitchen and the adjacent room the kitchen opens up to, so they can cheer me every time I look at them.

                2) I know why you love that LC French oven. I love mine, too, and I love my big LC skillet and my Staub ovens, too. I love the warm, beautiful colors they bring into my home. I love the way they help me warm and nourish my family with a hot, delicious meal when they return from school and work on a cold winter night. I like the way they help me make our extended families and friends feel cared about, by helping me cook something to welcome them into our home. I appreciate the way they make my cooking and cleaning chores easier to do.

                3) I've never had a food processor. True, I do have a stand mixer and a combination hand mixer/immersion blender, but I've never had a food processor. I can't think of a single thing I've wanted to cook or bake, my whole life long, that I couldn't because I didn't have a food processor. I wouldn't be able to say the same about my pots and pans. Food processors are here to stay. You can still put it on your wish list for the future. If it will really break your heart to return the LC, then you know you want it more than you do the food processor right now. If it really nags at you not to have the food processor, then you know you want it more than you do the LC at the moment.

                4) Here are some of the things I could do with my French ovens, in a pinch, if I had no other specialized pots or pans:

                --Make stock
                --Make soup
                --Make sauce
                --Fry foods
                --Bake beans and casseroles
                --Brown and sear meats
                --Roast meats
                --Roast a tomato sauce
                --Caramelize onions
                --Bake corn bread or other quick breads
                --Braise meats, vegetables and fruits
                --Saute meats, vegetables and fruits
                --Bake desserts, like cobblers or bread and Indian puddings
                --Boil pasta
                --Prepare rice, risotto and other grains
                --Bake a pizza crust, tart shell, or even some cookies on top of the larger ovens by turning them upside down in the oven
                --Mold a refrigerated or frozen dessert, such as a Russe or a bombe or tiramisu
                --Serve a rustic punch for a party, such as hot apple cider
                --Use it as a food warmer
                --Use it to cook on the hearth if the oven and rangetop went out
                --I'd bet I could even bake a layer cake in one in an emergency, if I *had to*, for some reason.

                You get the picture. A French oven isn't the best pot for every job, by any means, but it can do most jobs if you absolutely need it to (obviously sometimes dependent on your FO's size). It is an EXTREMELY versatile piece of cookware. I use at least one of mine, every single day.

                So now you can think about both sides of the equation, listen to yourself and decide what's best for *you*, because every cook is a unique person.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Normandie

                  Beautiful description of the kind of joy some "stuff" brings. Thanks for articulating that and it's true, isn't it?

                  1. re: Normandie

                    Great post. Really spoke to me and the way I've come around to looking at stuff. I too am careful with money, almost never pay full price for anything and rarely purchase anything non-essential any longer unless I really and truly love it. I find that not only do I save money this way and enjoy the things I purchase all the more for it, I also find that it really enhances our home and our lives to be surrounded by the carefully selected items that we really feel a connection to - whether it be books, art, cooking utensils/serving pieces or furniture.

                    I also have used my Le Creuset oven for many of the things on Normandie's list. I keep it on my range at all times.

                    1. re: flourgirl

                      The things I've regretted buying, for the most part, were the CHEAP things, the poorly made items, the tawdry and the flashy...(kind of like love affairs, eh?) I've never regretted the purchases that involved love and high quality and durability.

                      You can buy the *cheapest* little junko food processor thingies to tide you over. There really aren't many "cheap" versions of what Le Creuset does. Go for the pot (I just got a dijon yellow, 7.5 quart, by the way...)

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        I agree with you so much re, in essence, editing the things we keep around us. This is my second marriage and my husband was married before, and I've moved quite a bit in my adult life. gifts....combining two households...all those housewarming gifts...hand-me-downs from our parents' homes... It gets to be a lot of things and, while we appreciate (*very much*) everybody's generosity, some of these things may not be what we would have chosen for ourselves. So I've been trying to purge the household, slowly but steadily, and I like coming home from the donation center to realize that more and more the house is more purely what we can use and what we find beautiful. Especially the kitchen, since I actually have to *work* in it. I'm not giving up my FOs or my Demeyere saute pan, though! ;-)