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Mistakes, I've made a few

Knowing what you know now, what would you do differently as regards cookware? In my case I might have purchased a carbon steel pan instead of my Staub fry pan. Instead of a 2 quart saucier and 4 quart AC Essential pan I would buy a 3 quart saucier. And why did I buy 3 roasting pans? What was I thinking? Oh, and that wok. Oy.

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  1. I had to have the All Clad pasta pentola. Total waste of money.

    1. I have run through a good number of pans - can't really say I regret any although I have finally upgraded to a point where I am pretty happy with my batterie - (I would like one or two nice copper pieces added) I do need to focus on weeding out the unused items that hog space

      I do have a set of VitaCraft "waterless" cookware that I just could not resist they were so cheap - and they are pretty nicely made SS/AL/SS with the lids that spin around and double as trivets LOL - and they stack nicely - but I really have NO USE FOR THEM If I could only communicate to my housemate how perfect they are for his type of cooking (reheating and boiling) he may keep his hands off of my CI and Anodized. If I could go put it back on the shelf and walk away I would

      Most of the "regrets" I have are more in the small appliance category

      Blender/food processor that did neither well and had a gazillion breakable/losable parts - now happy with a basic blender and a real food processor

      Rice cookers # 1 and # 2 (just not the place to go cheap and small) # 3 a Breville is perfect

      The biggest "dislike" is my slow cooker or "multicooker" - it was a very thoughtful and expensive gift - but I hate the Teflon coating because I am always afraid of scratching it -also It is supposed to do all this additional stuff like browning and steaming - but those features don't work and by the time I realized it was a common product defect and not my not understanding how to use it it was too late to return it

      also while it is very nicely styled brushed SS look I find the outside hard to clean and I cracked the plastic around the controls - for something that was pretty pricy it is sort of cheaply made

      that said I use it constantly but I will chose differently when the time comes to replace it.

      1. My Vollrath Tribute 2 qt saucier, while very well made, is too shallow. I should have sprung for a 3 qt Demeyere or Mauviel instead.

        6 qt. Vollrath Optio saute pan. It's huge. To be fair, the disk began to separate a bit from the pan, but it was still usable. I just don't need it.

        Cheap carbon steel stir fry pan - the base is too big for everything but popcorn. And it warped the first time I used it.

        That cast iron DO from Costco? I have no explanation.

        1. Where do I begin when my eyes are bigger than my storage?
          Popover pans. I'll start there.

          13 Replies
          1. re: monavano

            Popover pans....I have resisted so far but one day I will cave and no doubt use it only once.

            1. re: cleobeach

              That's exactly it- I have things that don't get used that often, or hardly at all, or never.

              1. re: monavano

                I have a tiny kitchen (and oven), but I love my popover pan. It makes me happy every time I use it.

                1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                  I have to just use it- I have every intention to. Just gotta do it one of these days.
                  Nothing against popovers. It's a lazy me thing.

                  1. re: monavano

                    blasphemy? i use my muffin tins for popovers.

                    1. re: eLizard

                      Not the same thing, eLizard. A popover pan is designed to allow air to circulate around each popover. That lets them pop bigger, and bigger...

                       
                      1. re: CindyJ

                        the popover pans produce a superior product, but i wonder for the amount i make popovers is the tradeoff one that i'm ok with..... is this my next mistake??

                        1. re: eLizard

                          Well, you can look at the question the other way -- if you had a pan that produced superior popovers, would you make them more often?

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            i dunno! i have a really good Madeline pan..... and i've only used that once.

                            1. re: eLizard

                              Cool weather is coming. Madeleines on weekend afternoons with tea.

              2. re: cleobeach

                No, no, no! You'll buy a popover pan and then you'll make popovers all the time.

              3. re: monavano

                I LOVE my popover pan! I can store a bunch of them in the amount of space wasted by my Zo bread maker.

                1. re: monavano

                  While DW is a self-proclaimed non-cook, she enjoys baking from time to time and is really pretty good at it.

                  In her wedding registry she asked for and received a popover pan. In the 14 years that we've been married, the only time that pan is been out of the cupboard is when we've had to move it to get to something else. And every time it comes out, she looks at it and says, "I've got to make a batch of popovers one of these days." And then it goes back into the cupboard. And so it goes.

                2. All Clad chop pan (12" with 2" straight sides, All Clad "fish" pan ( oval with handle mid-pan), both at irresistible prices. Mistakes only in that I suffer from Monavano's optical affliction. Oh yes, and there's that Staub mussel pot........

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Pwmfan

                    That mussel pot has called my name a few times...

                    1. re: Pwmfan

                      When my husband was allowed to shop at WS alone, he came home with a copper fish pan. I can't remember the brand but it was at least $300, if not more. I returned it days later.

                    2. Roasting pan with folding handles. Trying to raise the thinish handles (above image) in a hot oven so you can get a grip with oven mitts on is a pain. Below is the way to go.

                       
                       
                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jimonyc

                        I can see how the hinged handles could be overlooked until the pan is put to use.
                        Thankfully, I have the fixed handles as shown.

                      2. Not cookware, exactly, but I got this bug up my butt that I really needed to collect this certain vintage china.
                        Yeah, what the hell do I do with it now?
                        It's not easy to unload!

                        1. Not technically a mistake (given its price and non-culinary uses), but I've never put my 12-gallon copper stockpot to its intended use.

                          My biggest mistake was amassing--and persisting to cook in--many pieces of LC under the delusion that it's first-rate cookware.

                          27 Replies
                          1. re: kaleokahu

                            12 gallons? In the "mine is bigger than yours" contest, you are the man. Wow.

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              Do you want to sell that stockpot? :) I just made 10 gallons of marinara across three batches and was scheming how to get it done in one batch. A 12-gallon stocker would handle a 100lbs of tomatoes in one shot! But, it probably wouldn't even fit on my stovetop!

                              I think the biggest mistake I've made, and it is highlighted in this thread, is buying new items, at full price, before I knew I needed them. Dabbling in items at retail is a guaranteed loss when you find out you don't need it, don't want it, or just need a different size. If you experiment in the vintage and used market, you can usually break even or even male a little if you play it smart.

                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                Do you want to sell that stockpot? :) I just made 10 gallons of marinara across three batches and was scheming how to get it done in one batch. A 12-gallon stocker would handle a 100lbs of tomatoes in one shot! But, it probably wouldn't even fit on my stovetop!

                                I think the biggest mistake I've made, and it is highlighted in this thread, is buying new items, at full price, before I knew I needed it. Dabbling it items at retail is a guaranteed loss when you find out you don't need, don't want it, or just need a different size. If you experiment in the vintage and used market, you can usually break even or even male a little if you play it smart.

                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                  Kaleo, the stocker was not a mistake. Weekly stock is an easy ritual, especially vegetable stock from the preceding week's random trimmings. I made a vegetable stock, wine, mushrooms, and Espagnole reduction that was as good as all but a handful of veal demiglaces. Dig it out!

                                  Cheers!

                                  Tim

                                  1. re: tim irvine

                                    Hi, Tim:

                                    Ooh, that sounds good!

                                    I'm just not sure I could use (or even give away) 8-10 gallons of stock per week. I have a 2-gallon that gets some use, but the 14-quart is the go-to.

                                    The big one handles kindling and party beverages well, though. It's registered in the Strategic Copper Reserve.

                                    Aloha,
                                    Kaleo

                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                      I use a 10 qt. clad stockpot and it produces about three quarts of rich vegetable stock from a chock full one gallon Ziploc freezer bag of trimmings. So it starts about half full. That is a manageable amount. When I do chicken or otter meat based stock I usually start at about seven quarts total volume. Anyway, it is awfully nice to have around so I can make impromptu risotto. BTW the Momofuku ramen broth is addictive.

                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                    Could you elaborate on the LC? The only piece I have is a stainless 2.5 quart open braiser. You loved and lost regarding the ECI, yes? Tell us more. Chipping? Weight? Your opinion is much valued.

                                    1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                      Hi, btc:

                                      Yes, my divorce was from the ECI. Terribly slow, terribly uneven. Yet terribly expensive given the true performance. Yet adroitly marketed.

                                      Weight was not a problem at all. I did have some chipping/cracking issues, but that was as much my fault as LC's.

                                      I stuck with it far too long... Spent far too much that could have been better spent...

                                      Aloha,
                                      Kaleo

                                      1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                        Hi btc,

                                        I hope you'll forgive me for chiming in. I've been on the fence about ECI for a long time. Specifically, I've been interested in a skillet or braiser. I wanted to know if there was a pan that would do a great job of searing meats and building fond, was non-reactive to acid sauces, and was also relatively nonstick. I only wanted it all.

                                        I've spent the last few days playing with one of Kaleo's LC skillets and have experienced some joy with it, but yesterday I ran smack into it's biggest limitation; downward response.

                                        I was making some onion cream sauce for a BLT pizza. After cooking the bacon, then onions, I added sour cream and cream cheese. That's when things began to get a little dicey. I needed the pan to cool down a bit, which it was reluctant to do. The cream sauce came perilously close to ruination. It was a wee bit scorched, but still worked for the pizza. I'd only been cooking over low-medium heat, at 4 of 10 on my GE induction range. Still, the pan had been on the heat for almost 15 minutes and had plenty of time to store up some heat. Lesson learned.

                                        The joy I got was from smashed burgers, which cooked up crispy and moist on medium heat after pre-heating the pan on med-low for 5 minutes. I liked it's ability to maintain an even temperature right throughout the cooking, even with a second batch. That was nice. It also excelled at fried eggs. My only difficulty was judging when to turn the burgers, because the black pan really threw me off. It kind of filled my field of view, the sort of thing I suspect I'd get used to in time.

                                        What has been a total surprise is just how nonstick the pan is. Eggs were just as easy to fry as they are on my carbon steel crepe pan that has only been used with butter over low to med heat. The burgers stuck for about 10 seconds, then released. The cleanup from the cream sauce was a breeze, too, with most of it rinsing right out. The rest washed out with a soapy sponge. This puts to rest the complaint of everything sticking to the black enamel. I don't know what Kaleo did to it, but it is remarkably nonstick when a little fat is added to it.

                                        This week I want to see if the heat retention can work for me. I'm going to use it in place of our wok for several stir fry meals. Stay tuned.

                                        Duffy

                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                          I have the 10 inch Staub fry pan. It is great for searing and is okay with the smooth top stove. It is a pain to clean. Make that a royal pain. Salt, then Soft Scrub, then Barkeepers Friend, then Dawn.

                                          1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                            <Salt, then Soft Scrub, then Barkeepers Friend, then Dawn.>

                                            Um, why?

                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                              That combo works. No one single method does. I try to keep it looking new.

                                              1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                Is that much effort needed for the exterior more than the interior?

                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                  When I sear filet mignon so I get a bit of crust, there is some protein which adheres to the inside of the pan. When the pan cools a bit I add large crystal salt and a wee amount of water. Scrub out with paper towel. Rinse with hot water. Then a bit of Soft Scrub, then BKF, and a final wash with Dawn. It is about 7 minutes total, probably.

                                                  1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                    Thanks for explaining. I was getting weirded out, thinking I might be in for a nasty cleaning regimen if I buy a Staub pan.

                                          2. re: DuffyH

                                            Hi Duffy!

                                            Do you think a lighter weight ECI pan might alleviate some of issues you experience with downward temp response? Or something like a Graniteware or Chantal fry pan? It occurs to me that they have less thermal mass and would be induction compatible... Easier to lift too.

                                            Catherinholm and Dansk enamel on steel frying pans come to mind as being lighter than LC with white interiors and a reputation for quality durable enamel. Mario Batalli has a line of lightweight ECI pans with stainless steel handles, though I've not seen any reviews on them. They sure look cool though.

                                            1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                              Hi, CJ:

                                              The problem with light CI is that it means thin. And thin CI means hot-spotting. Among other things, such as fragility.

                                              Making matters worse is CI's vaunted heat-holding ability. It doesn't just go away if you cut the thickness some. This is why CI is sometimes classified architecturally and industrially as an insulating material.

                                              Aloha,
                                              Kaleo

                                              1. re: kaleokahu

                                                Ok, that does make perfect sense... In the back of my mind - trying to make sense of induction magic - it occurred to me that some hot spot issues might be mitigated because of the way induction works. It was a half baked thought.

                                              2. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                Hi CaliforniaJoseph,

                                                Adding to what Kaleo wrote, thin carbon steel lacks the fragility of thin cast iron, but it's a fact that my egg pan (thin crepe pan) takes a long time to cool down after spending 5 minutes on med-low heat.

                                                Hot-spotting is best overcome, I think, on a radiant electric range, where the heat covers the entire base of the pan, provided you're sensible about matching the pan to the hob. But then we come back around to the worst of all worlds for downward response. It couples a slow-cooling pan with a slower hob.

                                                I could see limited use for ECI on induction, which is no different than using cast iron on gas or electric. I did a nice veggie stir fry in Kaleo's 12" pan a few days ago. It was very good in that context, remaining sizzling hot throughout cooking, over medium heat. I suppose it's not for nothing that cast iron woks are still around and favored by many.

                                                I also think it would work well for batch cooking efforts, like pancakes. As I mentioned upthread, it did a great job batch frying ultra-thin burgers. Shallow or deep frying in oil is certainly going to be right in it's wheelhouse. Last night we tossed some frozen potatoes into a thick clad sauté pan for a shallow fry. Heat bled out of that rig like we'd plunged it into ice water. I should have used the ECI skillet or my wok.

                                                If we cooked steaks indoors an ECI skillet would be a no-brainer for me. But even with the limits I've discovered, it's still worthy of consideration.

                                                Duffy

                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                  < I suppose it's not for nothing that cast iron woks are still around and favored by many.>

                                                  I went to "The Wok Shop" in SF with the firmest intent to buy a carbon steel wok when the grand dame of the show insisted "oh honey, you have electric? This wok you want!" And thrust into my hands an enameled (exterior) clay cast iron wok - the thinnest I have seen or felt (it weighed about the same as a comparably sized cast aluminum caldero). I sheepishly/dutifully accepted, purchased, and hung on pot rack where it hangs looking wonderful & unused.

                                                  I've yet to really understand (and I'd welcome tips and pointers!) how this piece would serve me better than the carbon steel wok I subsequently bought at the local World Market for $8 or the $12 Filipino cast aluminum wok I got near the local Naval air station (where you find Naval stations you will find cool Filipino markets!!) for $12.

                                                  Attempts to give this piece away have been thwarted by Better Half who insists it is a souvenir like onto a first class relic of that weekend trip. (I'm content with the Kiwi knife that I actually use[!] purchased on same visit serving as souvenir...)

                                                  If anyone could tell me how to make this thing sing and put it to use on my sad electric coil range in a task where it would excel past my carbon steel woks, cast aluminum kawali & caldero or cast iron skillets... I'm all ears!

                                                  Otherwise I'd file this one in the "mistakes, I've made a few" file.

                                                   
                                                  1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                    Hi CJ,

                                                    I can't help with your cast iron wok, I'm just breaking in and learning my own hand-made carbon steel wok.

                                                    It seems that with a CI skillet you likely know it's strengths very well. I know that my über-thin carbon steel stir fry pan, despite having a large floor, loses heat really fast when food is added. I steamed a few smallish meat portions before I consigned it to popcorn.

                                                    For now, I've only cooked meat once in my wok while I build the seasoning, but it's definitely thicker than your average thin carbon steel wok, so may perform differently, perhaps holding heat better.

                                                    Duffy

                                                  2. re: DuffyH

                                                    <If we cooked steaks indoors an ECI skillet would be a no-brainer for me.>

                                                    (Spending day off in waiting rooms - sorry if I'm writing too much)

                                                    Would ECI be your choice over plain CI for steaks?

                                                    I'm sure I missed something, but I'm not clear why that would be preferable.

                                                    1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                      <Would ECI be your choice over plain CI for steaks?>

                                                      I think either would do the job nicely.

                                                      <I'm sure I missed something, but I'm not clear why that would be preferable.>

                                                      It would only be preferable to me because the enamel coating makes it more versatile than a plain cast iron pan.

                                            2. re: kaleokahu

                                              A 12-gallon COPPER stockpot??? That piece must weigh 10 or more pounds empty. Filled, the stock, alone, would weigh around 100 pounds ("A pint's a pound the world around..."). HOW does one actually use a pot like that?

                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                Hi, Cindy:

                                                Actually, it weighs 25 pounds empty.

                                                Very carefully is how it would be used. That's part of the problem. I've since learned that pots of this size are best outfitted with a spigot, so that you needn't spend an hour ladling out enough stock so you can lift the beast.

                                                This thing, made by Elkington, was intended for large institutions with burly cooks helpers. White Star Lines ships (think HMS Titanic) carried these very pots.

                                                I think an Imperial pint of water weighs 1.25 pounds, which explains why this beast holds 12 gallons, yet is marked 10 Imp.

                                                Aloha,
                                                Kaleo

                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Ahhh... a spigot! Even a burly cook's helper might struggle with moving 125 pounds of hot liquid. So in what non-culinary way(s) do you use it?

                                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                                    I have used it as a party beverage tub and as a kindling bin.

                                            3. Most of my mistakes have been very small, gadget type things. Most recent bigger mistake was buying a Martha Stewart knock-off Le Creuset pot. I've used it about twice in 4 years. Nothing at all wrong with it, I just prefer my CI or stainless steel pans. Maybe I'll try no-knead bread someday and amortize the expense.

                                              1. When I changed pots because I got a new induction cook top I bought a couple of vessels I ended up getting rid of. I bought a Simply Calphalon skillet that I did not like, and a Cusinart non stick induction capable, that wasn't really very good.

                                                I still have a Fissler pot that I use, but it makes me mad every time I use it because after boiling water in it, on a low temp, for a couple of hours, it got permanent spots in the bottom. No idea what caused it, but I wouldn't buy Fissler again.

                                                I have a large Ninja blender that I was given, and I can't for the life of me figure out how to use it. Any sauces I would concoct are of such small quantities, that I think they would get lost in the deep container, and not be properly mixed or emulsified, especially because the blades are not located at the bottom. The two times I tried to use for pureeing soup, the results were disappointing. And I don't make smoothies. Maybe I'll figure out something sometime. And it is too tall to sit on the counter. The lid has to be placed alongside or stored separately.

                                                1. A 16 quart A/C stockpot. I'm a tiny woman with joint issues - what was I thinking? I can't even SEE into that pot. Granted, I bought it years ago - but still!

                                                  Well, my son can use it. Believe it or not, he's 6 ft. 3 in., built like a linebacker. He takes after me (ha, not physically) and loves to cook for many, so it's all good.

                                                  Also, I've had to give him and my daughter some of my bigger A/C skillets, etc.

                                                  Mixing bowls? Mine are Mason Cash from England and they are pretty hefty (considering S/S alternatives) but I won't part with them even though they are a hard lift.

                                                  Did I mention I HAVE S/S bowls? (I am a mixing bowl hoarder.)

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: breadchick

                                                    Hi BC,

                                                    I love the Mason Cash bowls that appear in so many of the kitchen scenes in Downton Abbey. The way they're often displayed, sitting on a table all alone, I'm pretty sure it's a product placement thing. I don't care. They're just so substantial and so very English.

                                                    Duffy

                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                      Hey there, Duffy:

                                                      I absolutely love the bowls, and got them years ago. I think they are now made overseas (??) and not the same as before. Well, what is, right? I do know I've seen the Two Fat Ladies use them and that's good enough for me.

                                                      RIP, TFLs.

                                                  2. A too-small counter-top oven. The apartment we moved into in Malaysia doesn't have an oven, which is common in these parts. So when we went to buy one - because I use an oven pretty much every day if for nothing else than to bake the husband his breakfast bread - I thought, well, it's only the two of us, so I'm going to buy the smallest one possible. Big mistake. I *do* occasionally have need of a larger oven, like if I want to roast a whole chicken, which I can't. And a larger oven heats more evenly. I made cream puffs yesterday and the bottoms burned in the first 20 minutes - the rack is too close to the element and the oven is too small to move it much further away. So, yeah. Bigger oven.

                                                    1. 12 qt all clad pasta pot with the strainer insert. maybe now that i have a potfiller and a professional style range, I'll use it more. but it's huge, take a ton of water to fill and a ton of time to heat.

                                                      le creuset covered casserole that is only oven safe. total waste. the dutch ovens are way better and versatile.

                                                      Madeleine pan. used once.

                                                      someone gave me a spring form pan. still in the shrink wrap.

                                                      tortilla press....still on the fence. that one time i used it to make pot stickers was so worth it.

                                                      sausage stuffer for Kitchenaid. never used. luckily it was cheap.

                                                      havent used my mandolin yet either.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: eLizard

                                                        My mandolin probably falls into the mistake category too. It was pretty cheap so sometimes I tell myself that buying a more expensive one will "solve" the problem. Um, no.

                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                          I have a Borner V-Slicer and sometimes wonder if a better (read: more expensive, stainless) unit would get more use. It hardly ever leaves the cabinet. Mostly I use a knife, unless I need copious amounts of something thin sliced or julienned.

                                                          I don't really think a better unit will see more use.

                                                        2. re: eLizard

                                                          Hi eLizard,

                                                          I've been on the fence about a tortilla press myself, for a long time. We use a lot of tortillas, but I wonder if it's not one of those products that is "good enough" from the store.

                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                            well, i haven't made any tortilla yet, but i have to tell you, as far as dumpling skins go.....it was awesome. and i think it was only like $10.

                                                            i have this one.

                                                            http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-Cast-Alu...

                                                            and i feel like this might be my next mistake:

                                                            http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000...

                                                            1. re: eLizard

                                                              I am also eyeing one of those spiral slicers....

                                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                                i have the corer, peeler, spiral slicer for apples, and it's amazing. not sure how much i need this.

                                                              2. re: eLizard

                                                                Hey eLizard,

                                                                Ah, see, I look at curly fries and wonder why. Spiral thingies have no appeal whatsoever.

                                                                But thank you oh, so much for reminding me that my next mistake can be had for the price of lunch. ;-p

                                                                Duffy

                                                                1. re: DuffyH

                                                                  i know. i'm like how many times do i wish all my vegetables were in noodle form. and the answer is never.

                                                          2. Our first microwave oven was definitely a mistake. Too big--took up most of the kitchen countertop. And we didn't use most of the fancy features. I was so glad when it died and we got a smaller one that fit on a convenient shelf. (It was cheaper, too.)

                                                            In cookware, I've figured out, finally, that no matter how tempting the "offer" is, I have absolutely no need for a 1 quart saucepan.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: texanfrench

                                                              I have more need for a 1 quart saucier than a 1 quart saucepan, but a saucepan is what I have, so....

                                                            2. I've found that many pieces of cookware that I thought were "mistakes" and tossed into the closet later turned out to be exactly what I needed when I learned a new recipe. :-)

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                Every time I feel the need to clean out the kitchen this is my fear. Hence why I still have the Veg-o-Matic.

                                                                1. re: Susangria

                                                                  I just treated myself to a Presto Poplite Popcorn Popper. It's identical in all respects to the best popper we ever owned, back in the 70's. Damn, bu it makes fine popcorn.

                                                                  Keep your Veg-O-Matic. It makes perfect batons for french fries.

                                                              2. Curious about your wok regrets... What kind of wok and why the regret?

                                                                17 Replies
                                                                1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                  Wok is a Calphalon Commercial model with very low miles. My stove is a smooth top. Not a good match. And while I might roast weekly, I stir fry maybe twice a year. A wok is good for making popcorn, I'm told.

                                                                  1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                    Very good for popcorn. I used to make excellent stovetop popcorn in my Calphalon Tri-Ply 4.5 qt saucepan. My current Vollrath 4 qt is nowhere near as good, because it is too narrow. The popped corn gets crowded and seems to be somewhat trapped by the walls, not having the freedom rise up, as it were. Not an issue with a wok.

                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                      Stir Crazy... by Presto. My favorite popcorn EVER. And yes, it's in the pantry.

                                                                      1. re: Susangria

                                                                        I had one of those in a dorm room long ago and it worked well enough, but I preferred my Presto air popper for lighter, fluffier popcorn. I've recently bought another Presto Poplite that's identical to my old popper. It's every bit as good as the original.

                                                                        Oil or air, Presto makes the best poppers, for sure.

                                                                    2. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                      I love Calphalon Commercial but woks are better in steel - every cookware company makes a wok - all-cald le creuset etc and none of them should - cheap carbon steel work is better - use that sucker for popcorn.

                                                                      I have a worse wok - an old farberware eclectic one that was a gift - I have been unable to part with because it was given with good intention but it is now on the chopping block in the donation bin

                                                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                        Those old Farberware electric woks work well for a number of tasks excluding stir fry. I recall an aunt using one to fry french fries outside instead of a deep fryer.

                                                                        All in all I never much understood the appeal of e-skillets and woks (my mother had several over the years and as a kid I'd see her using one not 12 inches from the stovetop and I just did not get it)... but I've recently found out friends who are either off-grid or use propane love them for being miserly with energy usage/fairly accurate temp control...

                                                                        1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                          Common, and excellent uses of electric frypans are:

                                                                          1) Buffet pan - perfect for cooking many items and holding them warm. A dear friend uses hers for casual gatherings. She'll plug it in on the patio so she doesn't need to leave the fun to tend to the sides while her dude deals with the grill.

                                                                          2) Frees up much-needed cooktop space.

                                                                          I wouldn't mind owning one, and if I ever find just the right one, I'll likely jump on it.

                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                            Those both make sense. I've used a hot plate for similar before, but I could see the appeal of a one piece unit. My aunt used her Farberware wok to fry fish in her garage just off the kitchen on my uncles work bench - all the fish fried goodness, none of the lingering fish fried smell.

                                                                            I've read folks with off grid cabins have used them for baking as they are - I understand - pretty miserly with energy usage. I see the appeal of that. Co-worker with propane uses hers all the time too.

                                                                            1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                              I used to own (it was a mistake that finally got donated last year) a deLonghi Roto-Fryer. I would normally haul it out onto the patio or deck to avoid the smell of grease in the house (the filters are a joke). Our new gas grill came without a side burner (I lost that argument) and I've been giving more thought lately to finding something to enable outdoor frying again.

                                                                              I had thought perhaps a Presto Fry Daddy, but since most fryers don't get close to true frying temperatures, I've put it off until something better comes along. An electric frypan might be that something.

                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                I inherited a Presto Fry Daddy from a previous tenant that I use exclusively for french fries outside. I'm a lard fryer - for my quarterly home cooked FF fix I can't not indulge. I'm curious now about the temps and may have to make potato skins - in the name of science - to temp it. Will get back to you.

                                                                        2. re: JTPhilly

                                                                          Oh, yes. I had one of those, also. I gave that away in 1991-- after buying the Calphalon wok!

                                                                          1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                            I have an old West End electric wok that my mom bought when she came back from South Korea in the 80s. I keep it around for when I need to use two woks at once (for steaming vegetables while stir-frying meat, for example) or don't have stove space.

                                                                            1. re: Kontxesi

                                                                              I could see the use there. I have a $5 thrift shop steamer I use similarly as I do find it useful to sometimes "spread out" a bit and prefer to only have the wok on the range when stir frying. Stainless e-woks also look pretty cool. I always thought my mothers 70s era Farberware 'lectric wok looked like it was straight out of the Jetsons!

                                                                              1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                it looks cool but it is a space hog I also have a matching e-skillet - for you know - the apocalypse when we somehow have electricity but no gas!

                                                                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                  Hahaha! Friends with off grid cabins find theirs to be easy on the solar system... Now you just need the solar panels before apocalypse...

                                                                          2. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                            Gotcha! My Magnalite wok (impulse novelty purchase I found second hand CHEAP) gets put to good use for haluski - cabbage, bacon & noodle dish. A whole shredded head of cabbage cooks nicely tossed with the bacon and egg noodles in one of those bad boys. Plus it looks cool hanging from pot rack.

                                                                        3. My list includes not buying more 3mm tin lined copper when it was readily available and buying the Matfer exoglass mandolin instead of the Bron. Also not collecting more gratins along the way. I've purchased a few regrets. Mercifully none were extravagances.

                                                                          1. Le Creuset grill pan, AKA the frickin' annoying-to-clean pan.

                                                                            Mandoline, because it hates me and I suspect was invented by a vampire.

                                                                            Rum pudding mold, have had it for ages and it has yet to mold anything but the garlic I've stored in it.

                                                                            Norpro nonstick tortilla bowl makers, set of 2, enough said.

                                                                            13 Replies
                                                                            1. re: AniseSpice

                                                                              I had a grill pan. And one day rather than clean it, I tossed it. That was a mistake; I should have mailed it to my X.

                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                  Grill pans and $5 gift certificates to IKEA make great gifts for those you've grown apart from.

                                                                                  1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                                    LOL! Grill pans so full of anticipation, subsequent disappointment and eventual acceptance.

                                                                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                      and I pulled the damn thing down last night to "gill" some zuchinni that I feared was too small for the grates on the real grill - I think it is the last time I HATE that thing - I feel like its almost mean to donate it and subject another to its endless disappointing results

                                                                                      (in full disclosure I will still have another larger LC grill pan & a raw CI lodge one as well as reversible grille so it's baby steps)

                                                                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                        Hi JT,

                                                                                        I stick skewers through my asparagus, as if building a raft. I line them up, then run three steel skewers through them. Wood or bamboo would work equally well. Painting them with oil and dusting with garlic, salt and pepper is a cinch. I can pick them up with tongs or a turner. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

                                                                                        If you want a challenge to equal the joy of cooking on your grill pan, try it with only 2 skewers, as I absent-mindedly did once. Oh, yeah... that's some fun!

                                                                                        Duffy

                                                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                          ha, that's a good idea - it did not occur to me to skewer the zukes that may have worked - I have these double skewers that may have been perfect too- live and learn - that sucker is getting donated

                                                                                          1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                            I have the double skewers too, and found that the best way I could do onions is this: run the skewers through the whole onion first, in rows. Then, cut the slices in between them. The skewers hold them in place, and you're not dealing with running double skews in between cut wobbly thin rings. Very sharp knife helps.

                                                                                    2. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                                      I like my Mineral grill pan a lot and use it to make a perfect hamburger.

                                                                                2. re: AniseSpice

                                                                                  Hi AniseSpice,

                                                                                  Do you use anything else to mold tortilla bowls, or just not bother?

                                                                                  Which reminds me of another regret, the Chicago Metallic Baked Taco Rack. I thought that by brushing oil on tortillas and then baking them, I could approximate oil-fried shells, without standing over a steamy, oily skillet. I was wrong. The damned tortillas slide right off the teflon-coated rack.

                                                                                  1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                    Haha, I want to bother but whenever I'm in the mood to make a taco salad at home, part of the reason is that they're such a fast meal to throw together. Taking the extra time to dig in the scary recesses of the cabinet for those unloved molds seems like a lot of frivolous work at those times.

                                                                                    Also, now that I'm older (wiser?) I highly doubt they can produce anything remotely akin to the deep-fried tortilla bowls found in the Americanized-Mex restaurants.

                                                                                    O, how I truly regret buying them! But I was thinking this morning of maybe figuring out some other use for them. Jell-O molds? Oh yeah, that's right, I hate Jell-O. Guess they would make interesting loaves of cornbread?

                                                                                    And that's funny about your slippery taco rack! I found a solution long ago for making oil-fried shells without standing over a steamy, oily skillet. I suggested we simply microwave the tortillas (you know, because they're healthier that way!) and the hubby has fried the tortillas for us ever since.

                                                                                    1. re: AniseSpice

                                                                                      I use broken tortilla chips for my taco salad. I figured the mold was more trouble than it's worth. To solve the steam/oil facial problem, I've lately begun eating more soft tacos. :-)

                                                                                3. I have a nice $80 Japanese hand-hammered Gyuto that I've used once in 7 months because I don't know how to sharpen a Gyuto or find someone who does.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: lamb_da_calculus

                                                                                    Lamb da calculus, I'm also having trouble finding anyone who knows how to sharpen a Japanese knife (Global, in my case). All you have to do is ask him/her at what angle he/she would sharpen the blade and you know you have an ignoramus, no matter how much expertise he/she claims.

                                                                                    It's not like you can't find the answer out in five minutes on the internet (or on the directions for a Japanese knife, which comes with the purchase).

                                                                                    Also, the last "good old boy" (I live in Florida) to whom I brought my knife, chortled at my Global chef's knife's single bevel edge, showed it to his compatriot, and they had a good laugh about Japanese quality control. What bozos!

                                                                                    Anyway, I may have to mail my knives away to somewhere, which I hate to do, preferring to deal directly with a (human) knife sharpener, but so far, all I have encountered are uneducated louts and sixteen year old kids working at the local hardware store. (The kids are nice but I doubt their degree of expertise to qualify them to work on my hundred dollar plus knives.) But meanwhile, my Japanese blades are getting duller and duller . . .

                                                                                      1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                        There are a few good mail in choices like:

                                                                                        Korin (the famous Japanese knife store in NY):

                                                                                        http://korin.com/Services/Sharpening-...

                                                                                        Dave Martell who widely considered to be one of the best sharpeners for Japanese knives:

                                                                                        http://www.japaneseknifesharpeningsto...

                                                                                        Like knifesavers said, Jon Broida:

                                                                                        http://www.japaneseknifeimports.com/a...

                                                                                        If you are interested in a local knife sharper, then I would suggest you post in the Florida section. I read that BuddyBlade is good and can easily handle Japanese knives, but I think they are out of business. Otherwise, I would have recommended it to you.

                                                                                    1. Mistakes ?

                                                                                      Not one, ever. C'est impossible !

                                                                                      Like Apple products, I see kitchen appliances and cookware items technologically getting better and better every 6 months.

                                                                                      As a Wunderkind, I'm just constantly improving, and staying ahead of the pack.

                                                                                      ( I've never had a set of Carnival-purchased "Waterless" cookware, but I did pick up a few Woks along the way ).

                                                                                      1. I would have bought a Peking-style wok (we didn't use Beijing then) instead of Cantonese-style.

                                                                                        I would have bought more original Calphalon Commercial (the current stuff is not the same).

                                                                                        I would not have bought that copper frying pan with tin lining.

                                                                                        1. I have a large slab of marble (that is both expensive and heavy) that I bought years ago when planning to get more into pastry. Though I have followed through with that plan, my kitchen is tiny, and there's no way I can use the marble. For now it's sitting in a closet, but I'm hoping my next kitchen will be able to accommodate it. (It's also true I've been able to get along without it, but I do like using marble and having the cooler surface to work on.)

                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: eLizard

                                                                                              I think I'd love mine -- if I had anywhere to put it besides the closet.

                                                                                              1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                I too have one of these, and am tempted to smash it. Not only isn't it ever used for its intended purpose, but its presence on the countertop turns 6 square feet of counter space into about 3. But it looks serious, and it sure is fun cleaning under it. Where's my sledgehammer?

                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                  i use it as if it were counter space.... don't know why i love mine so much. but it did help me decide AGAINST marble counters. it's etched to teeth.

                                                                                                  1. re: eLizard

                                                                                                    I went faux/low and picked up a cheap ($3) 24x24 porcelain tile at HD. It's not marble and it's not thick, but it does keep pie dough chilled long enough to roll it out nicely. I thought it would be better than my wood island top.

                                                                                                    That's when I realized my counters are granite....

                                                                                                    Hey! Don't judge!

                                                                                                    It's in the cabinet with my baking sheets, cooling racks, pizza trays and such. I roll out pizza dough (the closest I come to pastry) on my wood island top.

                                                                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                      Yours is probably a lot lighter too, and there's a lot to be said for that.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                        It's light, yup, but only in comparison to a thick piece of stone. Still, I would highly recommend it for anyone wanting to know if a big-ass cold thing for pastry is what they really want.

                                                                                                        Mine would make a nice cheese board, if I were serving 12 kinds of cheese, or a couple of wheels.

                                                                                                2. re: Chocolatechipkt

                                                                                                  Mine actually sits on the pantry shelf. Under my rolling pins and baguette forms. It makes the most fantastic holiday pie crusts, I tell myself... :)

                                                                                            2. I bought a carbon steel crepe pan. It's been replaced with a Lodge griddle pan which I enjoy a lot more. Go figure, carbon steel gets raves here. Crock pot! Thumbs down!

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: Cam14

                                                                                                A crêpe pan works well for crêpes. Can you make a perfect crêpe on your Lodge griddle?

                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                  We don't eat much flour (exception for birthday cake). I was trying the carbon steel for eggs and buckwheat pancakes. Too many sticking, seasoning and gummy residue issues, but the griddle is great. I have a feeling it would make a really super crepe too.

                                                                                                  1. re: Cam14

                                                                                                    The advantage of a crêpe pan is that it contains the batter to produce crêpes of a uniform size and shape, and is light enough to make tossing the crêpe in the air to flip it easy. I expect that would be harder with a griddle.

                                                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                      Please, please, please... I'd love to see you flipping crepes.

                                                                                                      What about blinis? Don't tell me you can flip a triple and have them back in your wells...

                                                                                                      1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                        I'm not a pan flipper, not enough strength for that. I have to rely on tools for flipping. I'll give a nod to the crepe pan for swirling the batter to coat the bottom, but the almost flat sides of the griddle are a plus when using a turner.

                                                                                                2. Knives.

                                                                                                  I inherited a hodge-podge of cheap BoxMart variety knives when I first started cooking and went years without sharpening or upgrading.

                                                                                                  I didn't get new knives because I found knife advice confusing... and I didn't get my CheapMart specials sharpened because "their just cheap and it wouldn't do any good and I'd be embarrassed if the knife guy saw what low-end junk I had!"

                                                                                                  This was a huge blind spot for me in my kitchen for years.

                                                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                      <I first started cooking and went years without sharpening or upgrading. >

                                                                                                      Upgrading is advisable, but sharpening is a must.

                                                                                                      <I didn't get new knives because I found knife advice confusing>

                                                                                                      If you don't want to spend a lot, then get some restaurant workhorse knives like Dexter-Russell or Victorinox for about $20-35.

                                                                                                      If you want to spend a bit more than try Henckels, Wusthof, Messermieser, F. Dick for European steel knives and Shun, Global and Tojiro for Japanese steel knives.

                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                        I've picked up some Henckles at super-red-tag-clearance and a couple of Asian knives at The Wok Shop in SF
                                                                                                        And a few workhorse restaurant supply shop pieces already.

                                                                                                        All are now regularly sharpened. I was confessing my past sins here, telling on my younger self.

                                                                                                        My big mistake was probably pride - I didn't want to look bad. I now look back and laugh at myself.

                                                                                                        1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                          Oh. So sorry. I thought I remember you got some Kiwi knives or something. Thanks for the correction.

                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                            Wow, fantastic memory! I did get a Kiwii knife at TWS! The conversation went something like this:

                                                                                                            Me: "So I've been reading about Asian knives.."

                                                                                                            Her: "oh honey, you want this! This knife you want! Best knife - all you need! I ring you up, here you go!"

                                                                                                            And that was that.
                                                                                                            And she was right.

                                                                                                      2. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                        I also always found the knife advice very intimidating - all the knife fanatics on line can make you feel amazingly inadequate and that nothing short of decades worth of developing your sharpening technique will render a decent egde - so why bother right -

                                                                                                        I also suffered from this - I would take my knives shamefully to be sharpened every so often but too often lived with dull knives

                                                                                                        finally I decided to use the combi-stone and small manual sharpener I have - and you know what - while it may take an expert to get a razor sharp edge it is pretty easy to make a dull knife, even a cheap one, serviceable. Just a little bit of work can take a thrift store $1 knife from a dull paddle to something that can effectively slice a tomato thin

                                                                                                        no excuse not to sharpen knives - even cheap ones.

                                                                                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                          ["all the knife fanatics on line can make you feel amazingly inadequate..."]

                                                                                                          I'm fairly confident in saying that none of them were born with the skill. The difference is 1) they tried, and 2) they didn't let their first few attempts (which were probably pretty horrifying, with uneven bevels and ugly scratches all over the place) stop them from continuing to practice and to learn.

                                                                                                          1. re: jimonyc

                                                                                                            and that's a noble effort but for people who don't want to make a hobby of knife sharpening google-ing "sharpen my kitchen knife" can lead to an overwhelming read. My point is you may need to be a master of the wet stone to get your Gyoto sharp enough to shave with but you wont be struck by lightening for running a Dexter Russell through a manual 'Chef's Choice' sharpener and you will be able to slice a tomato that you previously would have mashed.

                                                                                                          2. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                            Back in the early days of me living in Sri Lanka, we had a lady come over to do cooking and cleaning every now and then. This woman took one of my knives - granted, a cheap crap knife, but the best I could get there at the time - and went outside and sharpened it. On a random rock she found outside. The knife was... a bit beat up, but yeah, a bit sharper after that. So, yeah... :)

                                                                                                            1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                              I've watched youtube videos on how to sharpen a knife on the edge of a car window. I've not been so bold!

                                                                                                              1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                                Wow! Sounds like a good way to be mistaken for a car thief. :)

                                                                                                                1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                                  that seems like it could go wrong in so many ways

                                                                                                          3. OK. Just one more from me. Lodge cast iron skillet weight. Problem: handle is attached by two countersunk screws entering from the underside that makes contact with the food you're cooking. Screws are recessed so the result is you have two nice spaces for bacteria to reside. Used it once. And in all seriousness, it makes an elegant looking paperweight, however.

                                                                                                             
                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: jimonyc

                                                                                                              No bacteria should be able to survive a thorough pre-heating.

                                                                                                              1. re: jimonyc

                                                                                                                Ever try a sad iron? Heavy, thick, flat and solid cast iron.

                                                                                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                                                  Just ended up replacing the Lodge with something with a much simpler design and only ~$5.

                                                                                                                2. re: jimonyc

                                                                                                                  I actually use another frying pan as a weight. It's carbon steel and heavy so it usually works pretty well, and the bottom is flat.

                                                                                                                  1. re: jimonyc

                                                                                                                    i have that thing. it also rusts. i cover mine in tin foil. i bought it cuz the hubs used to use a tea kettle with water as weight.

                                                                                                                  2. I won't call them flat out mistakes because they worked, but I probably spend more money on Teflon nonstick cookware than I needed.

                                                                                                                    The Williams Sonoma wok I bought was kind of a waste of money.

                                                                                                                    1. My very thoughtful wife bought me a mandoline several years ago. I never use it.

                                                                                                                      A small wire mesh strainer.

                                                                                                                      My first non-stick pan was an All-Clad. A very expensive thing to throw away when the non-stick surface starts to go bad. Now I buy T-Fal.

                                                                                                                      And this probably isn't really a mistake, but: The nice heavy-duty measuring cups and spoons I bought several years ago. They look real nice hanging next to the stove. And when I bake I always get out the same old cheapie five-and-ten-cent-store cups and spoons we got for a wedding present 29 years ago.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                        <My first non-stick pan was an All-Clad. A very expensive thing to throw away when the non-stick surface starts to go bad.>

                                                                                                                        You didn't take advantage of the warranty when the nonstick went bad? I'm told AC is very good at replacing nonstick pans.

                                                                                                                      2. There's an angel food cake pan I've had longer than I've known my husband. Someday, I will make angel food cake and find out if I even like it.
                                                                                                                        The Le Creuset tagine was a well-meaning gift from my husband (so I can't even get rid of it). It's dumb because it doesn't fit the size of recipe I like to make (6-8 servings, I figure stews make ideal leftovers). Someone here called it a "braiser for two" and that's basically how it functions.

                                                                                                                        1. Kind of an off-shoot of this question, but I think (young?) cooks should consider carefully what they list on their wedding registry.

                                                                                                                          The one that sticks out in my mind is the Kitchen Aid mixer.

                                                                                                                          How useful is it really to the new couple and how will it fit into their (possibly) tiny apartment kitchen?

                                                                                                                          There are many kitchen tools that are ~great~ when the cook is 30+ and in a 800 sq. ft. kitchen.
                                                                                                                          The same tools may only suck up space in a galley in a 800 sq. ft. apartment.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                            I received a Sunbeam Mixmaster for a wedding gift. It's about the same footprint as a small tilt-head KA and I loved it. It handled a lot of mashed potatoes (before I learned about ricers), whipped cream and cookie dough in it's day. I always managed to make room for it in our apartments, but we didn't have a toaster oven, just a 4-slice toaster and an electric percolator for the Dude's coffee. Those didn't take up much room at all.

                                                                                                                            Today's young marrieds may have more countertop appliances to deal with.

                                                                                                                            1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                              I agree they are not necessary, big and bulky, and far too many recipes call for them these days for no good reason. But I loved the Sunbeam (RIP) my husband insisted we register for. It got 10 years of frequent use, especially once I became bakesale-and-cupcake-Mom, and I have now replaced it with a Kitchenaid. But I was always a baker. We also kept our old handheld mixer until the wires totally split, because it was easier to use in some cases. Stand Mixers are not a default necessity. But neither are unused LC pots, marble counters, showpiece fumehoods...

                                                                                                                            2. I never would have bought an enamaled cast iron dutch oven.

                                                                                                                              Clad stainless steel is much more durable, and I have less of a headache caused by the radiance of a thousand suns burst at once in the sky that is the result of worrying about scratching enamel with metal utensils etc. In addition, it is much easier to clean.

                                                                                                                              1. I regret not having kept my Mexican copper pot longer; I had thrown it out without realizing its quality, and could have had a few more years of use out of it. But then again, this was an exception..... Most of my pots I have kept, and they have sustained me and lasted quite a long time.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. A sin of omission: for years I rolled my eyes at the suggestion I'd have use for a stock pot larger than a very very basic 8 qt stocker. "I don't feed the army! Where would I put it? You think I'm boiling lobsters all day over here?"

                                                                                                                                  16 qt stockpot was a game changer. Once I got one I wanted two.

                                                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                                                    CJ, explain, please. What do you do with it? I use a lovely 4.2 quart Demeyere for pasta for two, and have a 7 quart MC2 that gets hauled out once or twice a year, maybe. Are you making big batches of stock, or canning?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                                                                                      Having a huge stockpot simmering slowly overnight makes me wake up happy.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                                                      I'm curious, too. I've got both an 8qt stewpot and 8qt stockpot. They're my least-used pans, maybe once every 3 months.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                        We've got a 5 qt saucepan and stock pots in 6, 8, and 12 qt sizes and use them all. The 5 and 6 qt sizes are used weekly for ourselves. The 8 and 12 get used primarily for entertaining -- e.g., we sometimes host buffets of multiple hearty soups for extended family or friends, which is a really easy format for casual, prepare-ahead entertaining. Also need the 12 qt for the annual ritual of turkey soup from the leftover Thanksgiving turkey carcass. (Helps that we have a large kitchen with ample cabinet space.)

                                                                                                                                        Edited to add: We did not acquire all of these in one fell swoop. The 8qt (as well as a 4 qt) were part of the farberware set that we got as newlyweds. The 6 qt was a gift a few years later. The 12 qt was an impulse purchase that my husband picked up at a resto supply store about 10 years later (before that he'd crammed the turkey carcass into the 8qt) and the 5 qt was picked up yet 10 years later, again as an impulse by my husband who saw it for $30 at BBB. The 8 qt got regular use, primarily for pasta, until we acquired the 6 qt.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: CaliforniaJoseph

                                                                                                                                        You will always find a reason to fill a big pot LOL! It's good to have a few in your arsenal - you just never do know when the opportunity may arise to feed an army!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: JTPhilly

                                                                                                                                          Yes. This.

                                                                                                                                          Large batches of stock, soups, canning, lobster this weekend!

                                                                                                                                      3. I would never have bought an All-Clad nonstick skillet. I don't care how carefully you treat them; it makes no difference who makes them, or what surface they're coated with, all nonstick pans scratch or flake, and eventually die. It's not worth the premium price to buy any quality nonstick pan. Buy a low-end pan and replace as needed.

                                                                                                                                        @DuffyH <You didn't take advantage of the warranty when the nonstick went bad? I'm told AC is very good at replacing nonstick pans.>
                                                                                                                                        And that was my second mistake; I'd heard about blasting the non-stick off with walnut shell media, but never got around to taking it to an auto body shop. I didn't even think about All-Clad's warranty, and finally I just threw it out.

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                          Now I just feel sad, for you and for your lovely pan. :-(

                                                                                                                                          If I could deal with the stinky handles, I'd buy an AC nonstick pan in a minute, because of that warranty. My non sticks routinely last 5 years or more.

                                                                                                                                          Yeah, the dollars make sense for me. But I can also see how they don't for most people, who replace their nonstick pans every year or two.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                            For the rest of my pots and pans, back in the late 90s-early 00s, I bought open stock All-Clad SS on sale piece by piece. The handles have never bothered me. I never wanted a set, but specific pieces like skillets, sauciers, and a petite brasier. I picked up an all-in-one stock/pasta pot @ Williams-Sonoma (also SS) around the same time. I could never see the sense in paying a premium to basically boil water. It's got a good thick disk bottom, so it works well for large pots of pasta sauce or chili, too.

                                                                                                                                        2. Good thread & I've definitely made a few mistakes, too.

                                                                                                                                          1) buying lesser quality stuff years ago when setting up my kitchen - it has all been replaced now, but would have been better financially to just buy the good stuff at the beginning. Ditto for the amount of pyrex I originally purchased - have had to replace it due to concerns about it exploding.

                                                                                                                                          2) In my ECI phase, I purchased a 2.5 qt tramontina saucepan online without studying the dimensions. It is awkwardly tall and narrow and not great for rice. No idea what to use it for. :-(

                                                                                                                                          3) I gave my old 12" Lodge CI skillet to a friend b/c I didn't like the brownish color it had taken on and I didn't know how to season. Now, his skillet is beautifully seasoned and smooth, but my newer one still has the rougher texture Lodge is putting out now. :-/

                                                                                                                                          4) The carbon hammered wok I purchased from the wok shop in SF (online) was a huge fail. It arrived warped and when I called and spoke to someone about it, the lady practically bit my head off and told me her woks were perfect. She said she'd take it back but I really didn't want to deal with her.

                                                                                                                                          5) I spent $249 on a beautiful 3.5 qt Le Creuset braiser, but Lodge has a 3 qt braiser that performed equally as well and costs considerably less. Should have gotten the Lodge and used the difference in cost to also get a 1.5 qt Le Crueset braiser considering how often I cook for 1-2.

                                                                                                                                          6) I have bought a lot of cookware with good intentions and big ideas.....cost a small fortune and requires a lot of storage space, but I think the mistake here is in not following through with my intentions. Maybe this weekend, I'll finally use that mini-cupcake/muffin pan I bought a few months ago!

                                                                                                                                          1. The $200 Demeyere 2.6 qt saucier ("conic sauteuse") that I craved for a year before treating myself to it. It's a good, high-quality pot, but vastly inferior to the larger and smaller copper-stainless sauciers I got for significantly less $.

                                                                                                                                            The main annoyance was the lack of a pouring lip, combined with a slightly too-shallow shape. I wasn't fond of the tubular handle, either -- a shade too big around, and I have fairly large hands.

                                                                                                                                            I thought the lack of interior rivets would be oh-so-important, and the ability to use it on induction. But as it turns out, I use sauciers on the front gas burner because they're in use for highly interactive cooking, and the rivetlessness just isn't a big deal.

                                                                                                                                            It remained the least-used of my pots and pans for more than two years, and last winter I moved it to the garage with the little pile of cookware I intend to sell on ebay this fall. This year for sure!

                                                                                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                              Hi ellabee,

                                                                                                                                              My Vollrath Tribute saucier is a little on the shallow side, and I'm what you'd call a vigorous whisker. It gave me trouble initially. But it cooks so well that I determined to overcome it, and did.

                                                                                                                                              Still, I didn't have those lovely copper pans to use. That would be a different story. I did recently add a 3-quart Bonjour saucier that's a more traditional shape and lets me whisk away.

                                                                                                                                              Duffy

                                                                                                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                That 2-qt Tribute is an excellent pan -- a third of what the Falk cost even in the olden days of 2011, and vastly superior to most saucier offerings. If I'd gotten it instead of the Demeyere, I'd probably never have sprung for the Falk -- and would have a good bit more whisking leeway for souffle bechamel base...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                  Well, the Tribute is shallow, the same issue you face with your Demeyere. It requires a bit of restraint.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                Wouldn't it be a lovely risotto for two pan? Ah, but it sounds as if you have several sauciers.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                                                                                                  It would indeed! I'll make a note for the ebay description... <g>

                                                                                                                                                  My small saucier is the 18cm 'try me' from Falk, which can handle a quart of liquid (technically about a third of a quart more, up to the rim, but in real life, with stirring, a quart is the limit). My big one holds 3 quarts, 9.5" across. I wish it had a helper handle, and that the long handle it has were stainless rather than brass -- it gets hot quickly. It's a great pan for curries, risotto, etc., and larger quantities of sauce (though a helper handle would make it easier to pour from). I'm glad it's only 2mm copper, because it would be that much harder to pour from if it were even heavier.

                                                                                                                                                  If I could only have one saucier, I'd want it to have about the same capacity as the Demeyere, 2.5 qts, but be a bit deeper and narrower, 2mm copper lined with stainless, with a pouring lip and a cast stainless handle. There apparently was exactly such a pan once, made by Mauviel from sometime in the mid-2000s to 2011, in their 'Cuprinox Style' line. My absolute favorite pan is a 9.5" skillet that was part of that line.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                    Just now checked ebay for the first time in a month or so, and what's there but my favorite skillet! The combination of a long, comfortable, cool cast stainless handle and 2mm copper-stainless isn't made any more (the handles are available on Mauviel pieces, but only on 1.5mm copper.)

                                                                                                                                                    I've only seen one or two 'Style' skillets on ebay since getting mine more than three years ago. The auction, with two days left, is at an extreme bargain level at the moment.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                      Hope you score it, and for a record low price, too!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                        I already have one just like it! Not in need of another; was mentioning in case anyone here might be interested.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                          Oh, right, now I see. Your favorite skillet, one you have. Duh. Don't have to spell stuff out for me, nosiree. :-D

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DuffyH

                                                                                                                                                            If I had extra money lying around, I believe I *would* try to snag this duplicate 'Style' skillet. Just to sell later; the current listing doesn't convey what's special about it.

                                                                                                                                                            I'm sure if I started doing that kind of thing, I'd also end up with a sizable pile of original All-Clad Master Chef, another superior product no longer made. Right now there's a 3.5 qt. saucepan with the rarely seen helper handle; hard to overstate what a handy pan that is. Over the winter and spring I've had similar pangs over an original MC 2 qt. saucier, a 1.5 qt. saucepan, and a two-handled 4 qt. soup pot [which was *truly* original -- from before they standardized the handles, and before they called it Master Chef].

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: ellabee

                                                                                                                                                            If it is the one I think, it sold for about $120 with shipping.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                                                                                                                              That's the one; just about exactly what I paid for mine three-plus years ago. Spring and summer seem like the times to get bargains on cookware, while prices firm up once the weather cools and the cooking/entertaining season approaches.