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Old 01-28-2005, 02:45 PM   #1
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Major Cookwre investment...help?!?

Hi, Im new on this forum. Sorry this has been discussed in the past. My girlfriend and I wnat to retire her aging T-Fal set with new cookware. The only one that we can both agree on is the Calphalon One series. But we want to get individual cookware and not the made up sets.
What, in your opinions, would be the sizes to get in pots, pans and skillets?
thank you
sean

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Old 01-28-2005, 02:55 PM   #2
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Hi, seanthelawndart. Bienvenu to the board.

I'm not too knowledgeable about that particular series, but I would advise getting a skillet first, preferably one that comes with a lid. That way you are covered for most cooking situtations, including just heating up leftovers. Next get a pot big enough to boil a fair amount of water in (for pasta, rice, etc), to make soup in, or braise a hunk of meat. After that, I think it pretty much depends on the kinds of stuff you cook most often, and which size pan or pot will handle those things the best for you.

Hope one of our members, Michael in FtW, reads this and responds. He usually has excellent general equipment advice.
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Old 01-28-2005, 03:45 PM   #3
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Welcome to the site. Glad to have you here!

Mudbug gave excellent advice as usual. And good for you for realizing that it is better to buy your pots and pans as pieces and not part of a set. That is almost always the best way to go. The sets will probably have pieces that you don't need or will never use.

My advice is think about what type of dishes you usually make and how much food you usually prepare at one time. If you cook on top of the stove mostly then a good skillet is a good piece to start with. If you are cooking for only two people usually then a 10 inch would probably be big enough for most jobs. I like Mudbugs idea about getting one with a lid. That can be very helpful. Don't worry if the pan you want doesn't come with one though. You can buy a universal lid separately.

A big pot to boil water in is very helpful. Make sure it is a good size. I always forget how much water to past you are supposed to use, but you want to make sure to use a lot, so get a nice big pot. This does not have to be an expensive pot either. You can get away with a pretty inexpensive one of these.

Do you like to make things in the oven. Perhaps a good dutch oven is something you might want to consider. Get one that is as heavy and you can find. Personally I like a 7 quart size. I find that works for me. I cook for myself and my wife, but we also entertain so sometimes I am cooking for 4 or 6. My 7 quart dutch oven comes in real handy for those times.

Personal preference is going to play into this a lot. They type of cooking you do and what dishes you like to make. A sauté pan might be better for you than a fry pan depending on these things. They are pretty similar and can be used sort of interchangeably for most things for the home cook. You could even use a dutch oven for some things you would use a fry pan for, again for a home cook.

Depending on the factors mentioned above and also how much money you want to spend will determine what your best course of action will be.
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Old 01-28-2005, 05:28 PM   #4
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thank you both. For the most its just going to be her and myself. there could be moments that we would entertain so the number would be from 4 to 6. I'd like to go the individual route so that i can have a mix of stainless and hard anodized with a splatter of cast iron and not be stuck ith odd size stockpots or sauce pans that we'd never use.
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Old 01-28-2005, 06:27 PM   #5
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I whole heartedly agree lawn d,
Excellent advice given here so far. Most of my cookware is mix and match.
I only purchase what I'm going to use. One thing that was important to me though was a 12" covered skillet. Even though I only cook for my GF and son most of the time, I often entertain during the holidays and a large skillet comes in very handy. Plus it's great for frying chicken!
John.
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Old 01-28-2005, 08:18 PM   #6
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its all about the covered skillet. everyone seems to be raving about them.
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Old 01-29-2005, 04:38 PM   #7
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Large, covered, deep skillet (I like to cook twice as much and freeze half for quick dinners another day), so I would go for at least a 12", if not a 14" one (then it will double as a Wok for stir-fries). My other 'essential' has to be my wonderful 5 quart pasta pot (Circulon), it has two sizes of draining holes in the locking lid, one side for small pasta & rice, and the other side for larger pasta/potatoes. The lid twists to lock on and it's GREAT!!! So much better than those cheap & nasty pasta pots you can get, and yet it's reasonably priced - around $49. I would also get a small 10" crepe pan, for crepes and omelettes, a good roasting tin and a large size griddle (which will double up as a baking sheet for cookies/pizza or roasting vegetables/potatoes). I wouldn't go to the expense of Calphalon One for your smaller saucepans as these are usually just used for gentle cooking techniques such as boiling veggies/making sauces/heating up soup, and a cheaper brand (like Circulon or KitchenAid), will serve you just as well.

I was tempted by the Calphalon one......but they just haven't got the right size skillet for me. The 7 quart sauteusse is too large (even when cooking double amounts), I wish they did a 5 quart one!

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Old 01-30-2005, 02:59 PM   #8
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Hi Sean - welcome to the madcap cookers discussion group! On the original Iron Chef one of the commentators used to say, "Bang a gong - we are on" - around here we just run amuck

You've already gotten some good sage advice .... the most important being to figure out what you cook, or want to cook, and buy cookware accordingly. It doesn't take a $100 saucepan to boil a couple of eggs! And, a $250 tri-ply pan isn't going to fry chicken as well as a $25 cast iron skillet from your local Ace Hardware store.

When it comes to Calphalon One - I'm afraid I'm going to rain on your parade. :oops: Calphalon had a great idea that just doesn't seem to work. Traditional cookware (not nonstick) can develope a good fond (those brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan) that you deglaze and make a gravy/sauce from. Nonstick has never been good at doing that because, well, it's non-stick and the fond can't develope because the proteins and sugars can't carmalize the same way because there is nothing for them to stick onto! The problem with Calphalon One seems to be that the advanced release polymer they infuse the pan with works great for developing a fond - but it's not very nonstick in cooking. To quote from a test done by America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated .... "This pan's only likeness to a nonstick pan appeared to be in the sink, where it cleaned up as easily as a nonstick if given a brief soak."

If you want to "blacken" or pan fry something (chicken, pork chops, chicken fried steak) or make cornbread - you can't beat cast iron. And, it's hard to beat a cast-iron dutch oven for stews, chili, or pot-roasts.

If you're boiling potatoes, or eggs, or heating up a can of soup - it really doesn't matter. If you're making mac-n-cheese .... a good nonstick would be nice.

What a skillet is can be a matter of nomenclature - something that cookware mfgs. don't always comply with in the true sense - and a lot of us cooks don't follow, either, so it can be confusing when we're all talking about the same thing but calling it different things. A skillet, aka fry pan, has rounded flared sides ... the diameter of the bottom being 1-2 inches smaller than the top. A saute pan, aka chicken fryer or chef's pan, has straight sides and the top and bottom diameter are the same. The saute pan is more likely to come with a lid than a skillet. Now, to bumfuzzel it up more ... a cast iron skillet has basically straight sides that slightly flare out from the diameter of the base.

Some people may poo-poo a 12-qt pasta pot ... but it has other uses, and you really need the capacity if you're going to cook 1-lb of pasta at one time. I have 2,4,6,8,12 qt pots (well, I have a 20-qt aluminum pot I keep under the sink for lots-o-pasta emergencies). They all come in handy for various things. I've got 8,10 inch non-stick omlette pans, 2,4 qt sauciers - hard anodized, anodized nonstick, stainless steel, cast iron ... what I grab just depends on my mood or what I'm cooking.

As for sets vs individual pieces ... sometimes a set isn't a bad idea. If you find a set that contains several pices you want - compare the price of the set to buying each piece you want in the set seperately.

As for baking sheets and such ... if you have a restaurant supply story nearby - go check out their prices for things like baking sheets, cake pans, sheet pans, etc. They are usually better quality and cheaper than the stuff you find at Wal-Mart, Target, etc.

I'm sorry if I used a "scatter-gun" approach to answer your question ... it was kind of a boad question. I would be glad to narrow it down if you have any more questions.
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Old 01-30-2005, 04:55 PM   #9
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I know I have said this before, but obviously I haven't said it in here, and you haven't seen it elsewhere or you would not have asked:

Go to http://www.legourmetchef.com. Le Gourmet Chef stores are located in outlet malls, so check their store locator to se if there is one near you. They have their own brand of tri-ply cookware that is just as good as All-Clad at 1/3 the price. They also carry Calphalon One at the best prices around, and Lodge cast iron. If there are no stores near you, it might be worth a day trip, or you can order from them on line. They only sell sets on line, but their sets contain common pots and pans, so you will most likely never get anything you won't use. I got their 7 piece set as a birthday gift a few years ago, and I consistently use every piece in it. I just keep adding to it.

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Old 01-30-2005, 05:01 PM   #10
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Caine, I have been trying to find your original post about Le Gourmet Chef so I could offer a strong supporting vote. Thanks for repeating it here.

Great prices, free samples of stuff, and tons of quirky gadgets too.

It's one of my "must" stops on my regular outlet mall circuit.
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