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Feb 17, 2010 04:37 PM

College Graduate Looking for a new set of pots

I've graduated a while ago and now looking for a new set of pots and pans to replace my old college ones.

I cook for just my boyfriend and I and I have a steady job and make a good paycheck. I don't want to wait till I'm married to get a nice set of pots, I'm looking to buy something that will last me for a long long LONG time.

I've been so use to cheap pots and pans that would chip all the time in college, I'm will to pay a heftier price for something that will do a good job and really last. Here's some things I'm looking for and my cooking styles:

-I sir frying vegetables A LOT. I usually never use a spatula, I just flip the pan till they're done, but I'm not very strong..I was looking at All-Cad frying pans but they're so heavy I could never use one hand to flip things.

-I sear meats a lot, too

-The pans have to be oven proof

-I love cooking dungeness crab so I'm looking for a steamer that will fit 2 dungeness crabs at a time. I only cook 2 crabs at a time so I don't need something too insanely big, and I have to be able to use it on the stove.

-Something to make soup in, not to big, not to small.

-What size pot do you recommend just to boil water? I usually just boil water to make coffee in the morning for my boyfriend and I, we use a coffee press.

-I make bread so any recommendations for a good dutch oven and size recommendation for two would be great! I've heard good things about both a Le Creuset and Staub.

-I also make Shabu-Shabu, and I'm curious about what kind of cooking appliance is used where they can keep the broth boiling on a table like that.

Thanks everyone for your help and recommendations!

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    I won't want a stainless steel stir fry pan. Not so much about weight but because everything stick to a stainless steel pan. It is not the right tool. I recommand a carbon steel pan.

    For searing meat, I like to go for a cast iron cookware.

    These two are often oven proof.

    I won't pretend knowing about dungeness crab, so I will skip this one. Let more qualified people comment this one.

    For soup, just get a 6-8 quart stock pot will do. Go for stainless steel for this one.

    For, Shabu Shabu just get a Japanese clay or cast iron pot and a portable gas stove.

    1. Since you say you are not very strong, you should either not get a cast iron Dutch oven or one not larger than 6 qts. This can work for searing, braising, and soup as you can do all those on the stovetop and not have to lift the pot until it is empty. On another thread, for bread baking there were suggestions for using a tagine, or, a cheaper alternative, a terra cotta bulb container inverted on its saucer (from the garden supply store).

      I won't get into comparative brands since I think that buying the status brands like All-Clad and Le Creuset is spendthrift, unless you get a deal at a tag sale or on eBay. Kirkland sets from Costco are very favorably reviewed.

      As for the shabu-shabu, look into a portable induction burner. America's Test Kitchen just rated them - recommending 1600-1800 or more wattage, and the Max Burton brand, which is under $100. These heat high and fast, without heating up the room (I am considering getting one before summer hits).

      1. I really like my Caphalon pots and pans. For the most part I bought these in pieces. Caphalon often has promotionals where you get one pan at a good price. I would guess this is to get new buyers. My husband and I have had pieces for 10-15 years and they have held up very well. I don't see us replacing them anytime soon.

        1. My suggestions:

          Stir frying vegetables - 12" carbon steel evasee
          Searing meat - 12" cast iron skillet
          Crabs - ?
          Making soup - 6- to 8-quart stainless steel stock pot with encapsulated aluminum disk bottom (might even go up to 12-quart if you want to freeze lots of leftovers)
          Bread - 5- to 6-quart enameled cast iron Le Creuset French oven
          Shabu-shabu - stainless steel rondeau with encapsulated aluminum disk bottom and a portable induction hotplate

          The pots and pans above should all be oven-safe and induction-compatible (so you can use them on your new induction hotplate now or on a full induction cooktop later).

          1. I won't use my LC enameled dutch oven for bread, since I don't know if it will crack the enamel. I've heard of people using old ones, so I'd maybe suggest a cheaper unenameled one for bread, or a second hand LC.

            I don't know how heavy carbon steel is, but it will be lighter than cast iron for sure.

            However, when you say you're not strong, I recognise that this relates to manipulating the stir-fry pan, which I agree would be difficult. A full dutch oven is still heavy, but you may be able to handle that.

            I'd also suggest a cast iron pan for searing, but you'd need to check that you can hold it.