In Praise of Paula Deen

This is going to be a bit of fluff turn from my usual more “important” topics.

I really really like the Paula Deen pot that I bought.

Paula Deen Cookware

Paula Deen Cookware

Walmart has a whole 10 piece set for something like $90. I’d originally just bought the “1 quart butter warmer” for something like $14? whatever.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Paula-Deen-Cookware-Set-Red/10251229

http://www.cookware.com/Paula-Deen-Cookware-C147101.html

Why?

Well, it’s a bit of an embarrassment, but … I was in the decades long habit of putting a pot of water on the stove then going to the living room, or turning my back to do dishes, and when I’d hear the soft murmur / hiss of a pot on the boil, pouring it over a tea bag.

But my hearing was damaged long ago, and recovered, but has started to fade again. Especially in the high frequencies where water hisses and boils.

So, well, “more than once” I’ve returned to the kitchen after forgetting the pot, smell alerting me to ‘something too hot’ in the kitchen… to find a pot ruined. I’ve lost a couple of “bottom pots of double boilers” this way. One was “stainless steel”, (bought after the ‘aluminum bottom’ one had the bottom melt…). Turns out the cheap Chinese “stainless steel” had a core of ‘something else’ that also melted. I suspect aluminum… So the bottom ‘skin’ of Stainless steel is now delaminated from whatever was under it and acts as an insulator…

So I bought this “cheap pot” to make my tea water. Besides, I’d watched her shows on The Food Network and liked her style. (She also has her own web site: http://www.pauladeen.com/ ) What the heck.

Paula Deen Butter Warmer

Paula Deen Butter Warmer

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Paula-Deen-1-Quart-Covered-Sauce-Pan-Red/11015399?sourceid=1500000000000003260370&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=11015399 (Yes, the link says “covered” but the “butter warmer” does not have a cover…)

Well, the inevitable happened. I came to the kitchen to find the pot, dry, on a glowing red element. The deep red enamel finish a dark black all over. Ruined, I thought. Turned off the burner. Grabbed the handle. The bottom of the pot is fused to the heating element. After some tugging, I wrenched it free. (A mistake… more below). And set the pan aside.

It cooled. And the black slowly returned to a perfect red. What?

Seems that the enamel changes color with the heat, but suffers no fault. More importantly, though the label says it is made of aluminum, it didn’t melt. I figure they used some higher temp alloy than most? Or maybe the black radiates heat really really well? Or, one would think, maybe I was just lucky and got it off in time?… but… So I looked at the bottom of the pan, and there are some minor divot / scar points where some of the enamel was damaged from wrenching it loose, but nothing else really. Maybe the non-stick in the bottom looked a bit odd, but it was still there. So I keep on using it.

The label says the pan is “porcelain nonstick” so who knows what part is what.

Another day, another “focus moment”… then come from the office a good 1/2 hour later to see, yes, a jet black pot on a cherry red element. This sucker has been cooking for “a while”. Knowing it’s stuck (a small tug to confirm), I just shut the burner off and go to the living room to contemplate my stupidity. I’m deaf, I think. I know I’m deaf. No, not stone deaf, “only” about 40 db or 50 db, but still. I’m NOT going to hear water boil any more, and I’m NOT going to remember it when I get sucked into something interesting. Idiot.

I go back to the kitchen about an hour later, to try again. There had been a faint “click” that I figured was something cooling. I go to wrench the now cool enough to touch pot loose from the burner and find: It is completely free. On cooling, it releases itself. Inspection of the bottom shows nothing new in the way of marks. The teflon or porcelain or whatever inside is clearly thin / evaporated some (and I’d applied ventilation to let smells out when first found).

OK the really embarrassing part. I did it again. Same thing.

Now each time the nonstick coating got a bit thinner (or at least turned a grey metallic color) and this time in the wash, the bottom inside of the pot is clearly metallic silvery. Up to about 1 inch on the sides. Food doesn’t seem to stick (then again I only really use it for heating canned goods or boiling water) but I’ve toasted the coating or strongly discolored it.

However

The pot is still FINE. Exterior finish is fine. No distortions. Not melted. FINE.

I don’t know WHAT it is made of, but it’s good stuff.

So today I bought another one. Next “pay day” I plan to get the whole set.

The ‘wrapper’ on my new one says: “Made in Thailand for Meyer Corporation, One Meyer Plaza, Vallejo, Ca. 94590″ and it lists “Suitable for” and has pictures with captions for “Solid Plate, Ceramic, Radiant Ring, Halogen, Gas”. From which I learned that there is a ‘Halogen’ burner stove… who knew? Well, something else to absorb / learn about… ;-)

Also, to ease folks minds, I now require that I stand at the stove and watch the water for tea… It seems to boil much faster than it did a few years ago ;-) and I’ve not had a ‘hot pot’ episode since.

One other point. The pots have a very pleasing “curved” shape to their sides. It almost reminds me of something you would see in a 1950′s cartoon pot. I don’t know why, but it just makes me feel good to look at it, and to hold the handle. It also seems to stir a bit easier (things headed up the side get sent toward the middle of the pot, so don’t slop out) and it pours very nicely from the pour spout on either side. I don’t know what they did, exactly, but these pots are just fun to use. Also the handle is a kind of plastic over metal. Realize that I grabbed that handle when the bottom of the pot was fused to a red hot surface. It was very warm / somewhat hot, but not dangerously so to grab. I suspect it must be a silicon of some kind as it had ZERO damage from the heat in the metal. I don’t care what you are cooking, unless you have the handle over a flame, it will be OK to grab it. The wrapper has the note: “Dual riveted handle provides a comfortable, secure grip and is oven safe to 350 F” so whatever it is, it’s sturdy.

On returning to the store, for the first time I discovered that the sets come in a variety of colors. (The ‘lone butter warmer pot’ was only stocked in red). I’ll likely get the Aqua / blue ones (as I’m usually not fond of red pots). I hope the Aqua enamel is as sturdy as what’s on the red ones, but I have no intention of ever finding out ;-) It also comes in black and orange, and a yellow for the 12 piece and in stainless steel with copper bottoms for $40 more.

Paula Deen Aqua

Paula Deen Aqua

Google Products online store list for that 12 piece set

At any rate, I’m just one very satisfied customer who has found one very reliable product. My only complaint would be that the set does not include a double boiler (and I need a new one ;-) But there is one for $40 in stainless steel that google found at Target and several other stores.

http://www.meijer.com/s/paula-deen-signature-stainless-steel-2qt-double-boiler-set/_/R-135057

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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33 Responses to In Praise of Paula Deen

  1. Tom Bakewell says:

    They do make electric tea kettles that can shut themselves off. Usually I use microwave to heat up water and tea bag, (and then forget until I want to use microwave for somethng else.!) Lately I’ve been using a small count down timer I carry with me. Egads, who would of thought of a conversation between two codgers about burning water…

    Tom Bakewell

  2. Jeff Alberts says:

    Lol, you must go through a LOT of heating elements!

  3. Malaga View says:

    I have a love affair with my 20 year old set of heavy bottomed stainless steel pans… they look better than she who must be obeyed does… they cook better than she who must be obeyed ever did… and they are faithful companions which is more than can be said for she who must be obeyed

  4. PaulID says:

    Paula Deen is wonderful I love her shows as well as those of Alton Brown.

  5. PaulID says:

    I tend to walk off and forget that my cast iron is curing in the oven my wife hates when I am seasoning the pots. Smoke alarms startle her a lot I guess. :)

  6. P.G. Sharrow says:

    My wife says “maybe you need a whistling” water kettle. ;-) pg

  7. George says:

    I have been partial to the All-Clad myself.

    http://www.all-clad.com/

  8. George says:

    But actually, I guess I am not fond of All-Clad’s website. This one is easier:

    http://www.cookware.com/All-Clad-Cookware-C199532.html

    I do like the looks of that stuff, though.

  9. pyromancer76 says:

    Your bit of fluff may be more important than it seems at first look. P.J. Sharrow’s wife’s idea of the whistling Kettle is a good one, but the main, essential point is that every bit of our current utensils, housewares, small and large appliances, tools, etc. deserve (need) thorough critical evaluation, no matter where it is made. They might look like we used to buy, but the “ingredients” are vastly different. How can we know? (Two preliminary statements: I try to buy American whenever possible; I want to be sensitive to the amount of real pollution, in comparison to CO2, that workers who make these products are subjected to.)

    My whistling kettle came from two experiences. The first, like yours — left-on-stove, burnt out pans. Oh, what was I thinking! The second came from buying new appliances, seemingly like the old ones that had worked for 20 to 30 years, but then fail after two, three, or less years. Toaster first; haven’t solved that one very well; been going through toasters — last one better than most.

    Then automatic coffee maker of many, many years went out. Did lot’s of research and got what appeared to be the technological and aesthetic (makes delicious coffee) best from a “good company”. Fail after a year. That was the last straw. Found a glass (I like to see clean) whistling kettle from Medelco (Germany) and use the large stainless steel vacuum pot from the damn appliance and now drip coffee “by hand” every morning. Tastes delicious, a little more work, but should last until the next large earthquake. Liked the kettle enough that I bought three just in case.

    Next, the washing machine. Ours of many, many years no longer fixable so got a highly touted (consumer reports evaluated), quiet, top-of-the-line from “most reputable company”. Paid a premium, but for 25 years’ service, well, ok. Superduper fail. All models are failing — ours lasted longer than most. Now back to a basic one, half the price, more than twice the noise, hope it lasts, will keep it. (A little more planning about when to wash.)

    Next, the hot air popcorn popper of at least 25 years. Delicious, delicious popcorn; get to season and flavor as the mood dictates. Read Amazon comments on the new ones. No more. Back to basics, cooking on stove top with minimal (good-for-you-type) oil.

    Need a new stove. I want a new one that will last as long as my old Wedgewood (from the 1950s, I think). Nothing digital for me anymore. Only standard, solid, old fashioned (cast iron?). I hope it will last another 60 years or more. (I did check carefully on how well it cooks.)

    Gratitude is my first long-winded point here. If you can find good quality (unusual quality) pots and pans like the Paula Dean brand, at a reasonable cost, what could be better. Thanks for the detailed description about what “they” have been through living with you in your house. I think lots of people would be interested in information like this. My one question: is the “porcelain nonstick” safe enough after being so well heated? .

    My second point is you might want to develop a Chiefio-Evaluation aspect to your web site, perhaps with a small charge for access. From “we will never run out of stuff” to Paula Dean Pots and Pans you are offering us post-US-manufacturing-at-the mercy-of-foreign-made(mostly Chinese)-products lost souls some American-made comfort and old-fashioned, real knowledgeability. Plus we get preparing-for-emergencies-advice, much of which is actual living-through experience. Then again, maybe the fun is in simply in the communication.

  10. David says:

    Thanks Chiefio, my wife complains that I read to much about CAGW, so I showed her your site with the entertaining variety you provide. She saw this post and I am now out $ 90.00

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jeff Alberts:

    The stove is a GE from about 1960 (during the Avocado Era…).

    The matching oven died about 3 years back (same vintage. The heating element quit. I was going to fix it, but discovered a sticker inside describing the asbestos insulated wires… and decided to ‘move on’. The insulation was intact, so not an issue, but you don’t want to be taking tools to that kind of thing… Replaced with the modern GE equal (specific small space model) that turned out to be 1/4 inch or so wider requiring hole in wood re-work resulting in desire to fix old, now at dump, one…) It is now a modern white. Oh, and two things about it piss me off. 1) It has a fan that ALWAYS runs when the oven is on to cool the electronics. Whenever you are cooking, it’s WHIRRRWHOOOSHing. I like things to be quiet (as noise can make my ears ring more than they aready do, and damaged hearing has a hard time sorting things like voices from noise). 2) They have admistratively set the computer in it to FORBID temperatures below 170 F. Undoubtedly to prevent law suits over bacterial growth. This also means you can NOT just set it to warm and make yogurt or rise bread. MAJOR loss. If I’d realised that, I’d have fixed the old one too…

    The matching fridge consumed ungodly quantities of electricity but never did stop working. It also made a modestly loud annoying compressor noise. It was replaced about a decade back with white one that instead of sucking down 900 W on average uses much much less (and cutting the total household electric bill significantly, like almost in half)

    Along the way, the stove (which has two large and two small elements) had both of the small ones quit. I got replacements from Orchard Supply Hardware. This was BEFORE I started melting aluminum on the stove… These elements work OK. Except. They are crappier than the 40 year old USA Made ones. First, they take a lot longer to warm up. Second, the red color is not evenly distributed. They have “hot spots” that glow cherry while the rest is dull red. Those spots will burn out first. Then again, it’s been about 8 years and they are still working, so maybe it will only be a 20 year life instead of 40….

    At any rate, the elements don’t get damaged in this process. The worst case was a RevereWare double boiler that had the aluminum bottom plate melt to the point of making slush drip extensions around the element. Not fully dripping, but conforming and sag starting. It came up without damage (as still in slush / goo stage) and is now in the garage used to hold bolts and stuff and to remind me not to be an idiot…. The others have had a hard surface cladding so melt contained to inside (like the cheap $15 on clearance sale from BBBeyond Chinese double boiler of “stainless steel” that has a core of something else… and also had started to get rust spots inside where the ‘stainless’ layer was scrubbed through to the non-stainless below… To Pyromancer76 point about ‘how do you know what it’s made of?”)

    At any rate, I’ve got a white stove top to replace it, gas, and the gas is plumbed to behind the top (like the way they did it in ‘the old days’ with stove plumbed for both, you get to choose ;-) But found out the ‘hole’ is slightly different between the old electric and new gas. Looks like I need to get an “adapter ring” that may no longer be made, or replace the whole counter top (YUCK!), or take the present stove out and do precision measuring to see if I can, by hand, reform / recut the round cornered hole to a square cornered hole with the required 1/8 inch precision… and if I fail…. so it’s sitting in a box in the corner and I’m happy to live with an old Avocado Stove Top…. while I fume at the folks who sold it too me saying “Sure it’s the same size” knowing full well they are NOT the same size… as later I found this is widespread industry knowledge; but they like selling all the “Upgrade installlation ‘oh, surprise, look at all the extra work we have to do to make it fit in YOUR odd sized counter hole’ labor and adapter parts”.

    At any rate, I half wish it WOULD die, so I’d be motivated to complete that ‘White / Gas’ conversion and I’m half glad the sucker is from the just post W.W.II USA made era and Just Won’t Die… asbestos insulated wires and all…

    @All:

    The problem with whistles, of all sorts and including tea kettles, is that they tend to be high pitched. My hearing is best at low frequencies and rolls off FAST with increasing pitch. I can hear men much better than women, for example. It’s fairly likely I’d buy one just to find out that I can’t hear it if I’m not looking at it…. All the electronic gizmos (including modern timers) tend to use high pitched cheeps and beeps that I also don’t hear. I’ve gotten tired of buying things I can’t hear, so I just don’t try anymore. If I can’t hear it in the store, it stays in the store. And most teakettles are not set uo on hot displays…

    Besides, it’s easy enough to just stare at the pot while thinking about convection, advection, heat of vaporization, radiant cooling and heating, mass transport… ;-)

    @Malaga View:

    So you are saying you like Heavy Bottoms more than SWMBO? Hmm…. ;-)

    @PaulID:

    Gee, I cure my cast iron in the oven too….

    A tip: Instead of curing it on God Awful Smokey Hot, just cure it longer at lower temp. The “smoke point” of each oil is specific, and can be looked up on line. You want a polyunsaturated oil (so it polymerizes more / faster) and then I just use about 375 F for about 6 to 8 hours. No Smoke….

    @George:

    I’d love to have a full set of All Clad, but at $100 a pot, it’s out of my league… I have a giant covered deep saute pan from Cuisinart that I like a lot (about $60) that looks like an All Clad knock off. I think it’s this one:

    http://www.cuisinart.com/products/cookware/chefs_classic_stainless/saut_pans_ccs/733-30h.html

    but that’s about as much as I can afford to throw at one pan. Makes a really nice italian vegetable saute… ( 1/2 and 1/2 butter and Olive Oil, saute onion and garlic, add Italian squash, mushrooms, celery bits, some carrot ‘flakes’ made with peeler, sometimes peas in pods and sometimes broccolil or spinach leaves, more or less what’s in season, add olives at the end if canned, earlier if not; sprinkle heavily with Italian seasoning mix and serve over “Olio con Aglio” noodles… top with real sheeps milk parmigiano reggiano. Serves about 8 or more if you have a bunch of side dishes and / or salads…)

    @Pyromancer76:

    I keep trying to be a “good capitalist” and money grub, but in fact my soul isn’t oriented that way. I tend to just give things away if someone wants it. The number of tools I’ve “loaned” is more than I presently posses, for example. If I find something I truely like, especially if other crap has had my money wasted on it along the way, the “greater good” of rewarding the good product maker while having folks not burned by the crappy ones is more important to me than money in my pocket. I wish I could learn to be greedy, but I can’t. It just isn’t in me. (And that fact has caused me grief my whole life…)

    FWIW, I have a cheap crappy Black & Decker coffee maker that works just fine and is about 6 years old. Used every day (and twice on Sunday ;-) along with a Toastmaster 4 slice toaster that never has a problem and that we bought about 10 years ago? No idea if the present production is the same, but likely is.

    But you landed on one of my Pet Peeves about “Made In China”. I know that the Chinese can make products every bit as good as anyone else. But they don’t. IMHO, this is due to a culture of corruption. “Get what you can and rip off who you can and it’s OK if they don’t notice” seems to be the rule. Little sense of “reputation”. So makers who apply STRICT quality control can get good products made. I’ve got a Nikon lens made in China that is just fine. BUT, if your QC slips for a moment, or they sense you are not watching closely, you end up with Lead Paint on your Mattel toys as someone had an uncle who ran the lead paint company or they could buy it for 1/10 cent cheaper per toy and “no one will know” as they pocket the difference.

    So how do you know if your “stainless steel” pot is pure stainless, or a stainless ‘wash’ over poorer metals? You don’t, and can’t. Until the thin surface wears through after 2 or 4 years and you start getting rust spots inside (as mine did… so I’m not that sad that the bottom delaminated). My answer? I only buy such things on deep discount clearance. That way my $15 for a full decent SS Double Boiler gave full measure of value, even if it did fall apart in a few years. I’ll also ‘buy one’ of something, then wait a year or three…. if if survives and the company survives and I don’t see it on deep discount, then I’ll buy more…

    But yes, “Creaping Crappy” especially at the level of “materials” is happening across the board. All you can do is depend on the manufacturer to enforce QC standards and hope. That, BTW, is why I included the name of the pot importer / maker in the info above. So you can find their name on other products too….

    BTW, for years I made coffee with a Melita Drip Cone and pot on the stove. The automatic maker came as a gift. I still use the Melita from time to time. Great coffee and I just don’t see much difference in effort.

    1) Filter to cone, coffee to filter, water in pot, boil, pour over.

    2) Filter to holder, coffee to filter, water in reservoir, hit on.

    IF it ever dies, I’m good with the Melita…

    Per the non-stick safety: I hope it is ;-)

    But really, it washed clean, has no residual smell. The surrounding areas don’t shed or peel bits ( I think it’s not actually teflon but ‘something else’…) and I’ve detected no ill effects. It just looks like it softened and rubbed off in the cleaning or perhaps evaporated and left with the enhanced ventilation. I suspect any ill effect risk was in the air, not the pot.

    We have a Maytag set that is no longer available. One of my other “Pet Peeves” is that a brand can still exist, but it becomes a different company. So the Maytag company of old has gone through a few mergers. I have a “Magic Chef” range top (to be installed), that is no longer made, as Magic Chef got mergered into someone else. My Magic Chef microwave oven has worked forever (decades) but a new one will NOT be the same not even from the same company. (And even if the box is ‘assembled in the USA’ all the parts will be ‘made in China’…) so even Name Brands are less trustworth. Chrysler has been, in the last couple of decades, Chrysler proper, mergered with American Motors (Jeep / Eagle / …), absorbed by Daimler Benz, spit out and into Fiat. So what IS a Chrysler? A Mercedes or a Fiat? Or?…

    The fact that I have to look up the merger history of a company to know if the brand is still the same just irks me.

    And, unfortunately, most people buy mediocre to crappy stuff as it’s cheaper. So the mediocre / crappy makers make more money, with which they buy out the competition and cheapen the competative brands over time. Those brands that are NOT bought out, must cheapen the product to compete with those that are bought out (while they cheapen the product and sell based on the older reputation). Until folks stop buying and a new brand comes along. Repeat.

    So WHEN our great 25 year old Maytag finally dies, where will we get repair parts? As it is now really a “Whirlpool”

    http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/03/whirpool_maytag_approval.html

    And when I go shopping, I need to keep in mind that Maytag now means Whirlpool… not really a Maytag any more…

    (Hint: When contemplating a brand, do a google on “{brand} merger”…)

    So maybe it would be a great idea to make a “consumer reports” style site that focused on actual votes by participants. A “reputation writ large” consumer site. But for now I’m just going to say what I know and hope folks can use it… while I contemplate “Greed is Good” and try to learn to internalize it even a little bit…

    @David:

    Glad I could help your spouse, and ‘sorry for your loss’ ;-)

  12. dearieme says:

    “They do make electric tea kettles that can shut themselves off”: that’s the answer.

    For coffee, after trying many devices, we’ve returned to the old filter-paper in funnel method. Though when we lived in NZ we had to get visitors from the UK to bring us out the kit: the kiwis thought it hugely amusing when we tried to buy locally, answering along the lines of “My granny might have one in her attic.”

  13. j ferguson says:

    Popcorn by pot.

    We had an air-blower popcorn maker and didn’t like the results. We eat a lot of popcorn. We live on a boat where the galley is on the starboard side of the saloon (official nautical term) and the couch, table and chair are on the port side facing galley. So we have no problem with forgetting something that’s on the stove.

    We use an ancient Wearever 3 quart pot for the popcorn and the stews we make out of leftovers. It’s one of those which has an aluminum bottom encapsulated in stainless steel. Popcorn is made by pouring Canola oil in the pot to cover the bottom along with a couple of drops of water. It goes on high LPG flame until the water quits popping and then the pre-measured popcorn is added. Once popping starts, we lift the pot above the flames to prevent scorching until it quits popping. Seasoning is 20% Old Bay and 80% salt.

    works for us.

    We’ve tried other pots, teflon all aluminum for example and find them trickier for popcorn. ????? no idea why.

    The old Wearever has a crack near the lip which is of unknown origin but is likely the work of the resident teen-ager many years ago.

    We want a new one just like the old one. But they all come with glass tops, or are REALLY expensive. The closest things we’ve found have big pouring lips – we want very small.

    This might seem to you guys a need easily satisfied, but what we are looking for isn’t in the stores we use.

    Anyone have any ideas as to brands we should look at? No glass lids?

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @J Ferguson:

    Don’t know if the ‘lip’ is to your liking, but Cuisinart makes a stainless with metal lid pot that’s nice. They have a couple of ‘quality / style’ choices.

    http://www.cuisinart.com/products/cookware/chefs_classic_stainless/cc_chefs_pan.html

    More “normal” shape:

    http://www.cuisinart.com/products/cookware/chefs_classic_stainless/saucepans_ccs/7193-20.html

    They also have an “aluminum outside stainless steel inside”:

    http://www.cuisinart.com/products/cookware/multiclad_unlimited/mcu_saucepans/mcu194-20.html

    and a line that looks like it’s SS inside and out with aluminum in between

    http://www.cuisinart.com/products/cookware/multiclad_pro/saucepans_mcp/mcp193-18.html

    so you can kind of choose your materials of choice. Looks like they have some with glass lids if you want, but these choices look like SS lids to me (and in the descriptions). Like this set that has the “curvey side” look like the Paul Deen pots, but with SS finish and glass covers:

    http://www.cuisinart.com/products/cookware/contour/419-18p.html

    I’ve got the one giant saute pan of theirs and love it. Only used it a few dozen times, though (don’t have a herd over that often) so can’t attest to ‘daily use for years’, but it looks like it’s going to last…

  15. Doug Jones says:

    Best electric tea kettle evar:

    We have one at the office, I have one at home. The cordless feature is the golden one; it makes it easy to clean, fill, and pour, with no “trip hazard” of getting hauled up short by the cord and causing a dangerous spill- my former GF got used to my cordless kettle, then burned herself at home on her corded one when she forgot. Auto shutoff, and if you put only as much water as you need immediately into it, it reheats quickly enough that you don’t get a chance to wander off and get distracted again….

  16. George says:

    Yeah, the All-Clad are pricey but they are tough. I bought them from a place that was going out of business many years ago (I think it was about 10 years ago) and they were marked down considerably from their usual price.

    My late wife had always wanted a set of them and the idea was that they would go to our daughter when she grew up so one year on her birthday, I got her the set (they were more than half off, as I remember). My daughter is now 12 and will probably inherit them in another 10 years or so and maybe I will get a set of the Paula Deen for me. Maybe she can pass the All-Clad down to her daughter.

    I see no reason why those things won’t last a hundred years.

  17. E.M.Smith says:

    @George:

    I have a cast iron skillet like that.

    In about 1958, my dad was digging in the back yard of our house. About 1 foot down, he found a very old cast iron skillet that was crusted in dirt and light iron scale. The house was built in ’18 something’ so who knows how old the pan was.

    Scraped, fired to red hot, steel brushed, washed, seasoned.

    I grew up with that pan from about 5 years old until I went to college. Later, when my Mom died, I got the pan…

    A bit coated in collected ‘bottom grunge’ (as the gas in that town made carbon deposits sometimes) but the inside had been well loved.

    Scraped, fired to red hot, brushed, washed, seasoned…

    That was about 20+ years ago when my son was about 3.

    When my son graduated college, I gave him the cast iron pan… and instructions on how to use it and it’s history…

    Maybe I’ll watch for All-Clad on sale… or just buy one piece per few years….

    The last two sets of “non-cast iron” I’ve bought have been the ‘cast aluminum / teflon’ pans. Good for a ‘few’ years, then repeat. Cheap enough you can do that (and the spouse likes the non-stick … while I’m good with the cast iron and stainless finishes…) but it’s “just wrong”. Part of why I like the Paula Deen. Durable / enamel but the spouse gets non-stick… and I do have my SS Giant Saute; Cast Iron skillets, dutch oven, griddle; and enamel over steel large pots, roasters, and 4 qt round roaster… Oh, and SS “stock pot / steamer” (that’s too big for “just two” 8-(

    But the ‘collection’ of frying pans are getting knicked / damaged non-stick (despite my best efforts to ‘enlighten’ the family about not using knives and metal utensils… ) They are the last vestige of “the cheap stuff”.

    I had a strategy that I first used when I had a VW (old air cooled kind) and no money as a high school kid. You buy a ‘full set’ of cheap tools you can afford. The 2 or 3 sockets you actually use and the 2 wrenches you use a lot will wear, the rest will not, as only used once a few years. As a piece wears, you replace it with a Really Good One. That way, in modestly short order, and with minimized cost, you are spending 90%+ of your time using Real Good Tools, but still have available all the “odd sizes” that you rarely use or need, should the need pop up.

    I’ve still got a really good 10 mm and 13 mm socket and wrench, and the ratched was replaced. Somehow I’ve never felt the need to buy a $10 13/16 inch socket ;-)

    I suppose I could just buy one covered non-stick Paula Deen skillet and one All-Clad and call it done for few years…

    And a P.D. double boiler…

    @LGL & Doug Jones:

    Looks interesting. The “not made in China” is nice too. I did notice several folks saying it could ‘leak from the bottom’. As I was pondering putting one on my wood desk near the computer, that would not be a desirable thing…

    One other point is that I’m the only one who ever would need it. One cup at a time. So 6 cups would be a bit of overkill. But… I’m reminded that in my ‘travel kit’ is a nice 2 cup “hot pot” that boils water, then automatically cuts back to about 210 degrees to ‘hold hot / not boil away”. I think I’ll just get it out of the travel kit, as I’m not “on the road” as a road warrior any more. ( In prior years I was “on the road” about 1/3 to 1/2 the time…)

    It’s the right size. Does what I want (which is why I bought it in the first place) and is otherwise going to sit unused for a year at a clip…

  18. Keith Hill says:

    Best I’ve ever had are a Swiss Diamond Pan and same brand Casserole Dish, actually made in Switzerland. Virtually unscratchable and you can cook on top of stove or in oven but I’ve never had to put either in the oven. Cook brilliantly on top with fractional heat on electric or gas.

    Now, EM, way off thread but I know your interest in earthquakes and I’ve just found a site on earthquake predictions (with remarkable accuracy to about 85%) I’m sure you’ll love.

    http://www.nextearthquake.com/earthquakes_long_term_forecasts.htm#earthquakes_top

    Run by Dr.J.Roberts Ph.D a former CSIRO scientist .

    Among many others he predicted the NZ Christchurch earthquake and even got the 6.3 magnitude right.

    Be sure to check it out. I’m sure you won’t be sorry!

  19. H.R. says:

    I love my set of Analon ”Titanium’ pans. They have SS lids, hollow cast SS handles which stay cool, and they are oven rated to 550F. I’ve had them 10 years. They also make a monster skillet which I have. Love it!

    My wife (not a cook) has fused green beans to the bottom of the saucepans a few times. Her recipe for green beans is; “open can, pour contents into pan, turn stove to high, remove pan from stove when smoke alarm sounds, turn on ceiling fan and open kitchen door, find dogs which have fled the piercing sound of the smoke alarm, throw away green bean residue, give me the pan to clean.”

    If she’s making green beans for dinner that means we’ll be having broccoli or corn.

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Didn’t now people made pots out of Titanium:

    http://www.titanium-cookware.com/

    the things you learn….

    Looks like really really neat stuff, and the surface would hoild up to the spouse…

    but at $300 for a 7 piece set, it’s a bit outside my legue…

    Even the $150 for three frying pans is way steep. While I’d love to have them, when the aluminum ones are $20 for a set of 3 at Costco, the “payback period” is infinite, even if the cheap ones only last a few years per set…

    Maybe I’ll put them on my Birthday Wish List and see if anyone loves me that much ;-)

    Oh, wait, redid the google with “Anolon titanium”:

    At $210 for a whole set of 10 pieces, much more ‘possible’… and a $40 pot is high, but inside the “every so often you just want ONE good ‘toy’ as a reward” budget… Hmmm….

  21. Verity Jones says:

    I love the story of the excavated skillet.

    A few months ago my father gave me an enamelled pail that had belonged to my grandmother. I think it might have been a milk pail, although I remember it from family blackberrying days when I was a child – my grandmother walking along with the pail and a walking stick (which she didn’t need, but was brought along so she could ‘hook’ and pull down the high up branches with the best berries). It has a lovely feel – quite light, and with a ‘rolling’ wooden hand grip that makes it really comfortable to hold.

    Any time I have bought something ‘quality’ for the kitchen (usually on sale or at a ‘factory shop’) I have not regretted it. Over the years I’ve bought some ‘professional’ quality stainless steel heavy bottom pots and pans that way that have ended up being such a joy to use that they are our most used ones. Last year I treated myself to two kitchen knives, spending as much on the heavily discounted ones as I would have cringed to spend on the ‘Sabatier’ ones I’d previously bought. Again no regrets – they are a joy to sharpen and to use.

  22. H.R. says:

    @E.M. I got a 12 piece set (with the giant skillet as a bonus piece) for my birthday. I’m thinking that it was on sale back when (10 years, remember?) for around $300+, so if you can snag a set for $250-$300 you are doing very well.

    My daughter-in-law asked for the same set I had for her wedding present. She’s Chinese (Shenzen Province) and once she started using that skillet well, “Wok!?! I don’t need no stinkin’ wok! Gimme one of them thar skillets.” (I think her accent is a little more Chinese than redneck, but you get my drift.)

    I am intrigued by the Paula Dean set. Good tip. I’m thinking of buying a set for my wife and telling her to stop using my cookware. I can tell you she would not take it as an insult and would understand. She has two temperature settings for cooking; off and heliarc weld. There is no middle ground.

    P.S. I looked and I did put single quotes around titanium. I have looked at real titanium cookware too, and it might be something I’d consider if I ever got to the point in my life where buying yet another Learjet had become boring. ;o)

    @Verity
    There is a pan-Asian marketplace in my town that imports knives from Japan and solid SS cleavers from China. The Japanese knives are relatively inexpensive ($15-$25 US) and take and hold an edge like you wouldn’t believe. The cleavers are $8-$12 US and will chop through anything. I once went through a bone-in ham with one. I just had to smack the top a few times to go through the bone. Then you can turn around and dice an onion with the thing. Next time you’re in your local Asian market, see if they have the Japanese knives and give one a try.

    @George
    Having carried on about my Analon set, still, I’d chuck them all for a set of All-Clad. Agreed: so long as my wife didn’t get hold of them they should last 100 years or more.

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    @H.R. :

    One of the joys of America is the “odd” ancestries most folks have. Nothing like hearing a full throated “Chinese Texan” with the accent blend: “I don nee no steenkin WOk! Give me one them thar skillt!”

    Is the Analong not ‘real’ titanium? The advert looked like it was. The “Analon” looks to imply “anodized non-stick” that ought to take titanium? Or is it just a surface and not the whole thing?

    I have a set of “Frontier” knives (with a western look and steer-with-horns branded into the handles) I bought 30? years ago when Japan was the source of “cheap” stuff. They are made in japan with wood handles. I’ve had dozens of other knives come and go, and these are still in the block… Though the boning knive has been sharpened to about 2/3 the original blade width… but it’s my “go to knife” for everything and cuts through chicken thigh/leg joints (and the occasional bone when I miss the mark) most easily… Not seen in the last decade ( I was looking…)

    @Verity:

    Thus my sporadic “Buy a good one, price be damned” habit. Slowly, over time, the good ones dominate the field and you never feel the price pain….

    I’ve got a SS Revereware GIANT roasting pan used every thanksgiving. Just Love It. Slowly accumulating knifes that are a joy (including my first ceramic one and a Chinese Cleaver… though I don’t know where it was made…)

    As each “crap” piece dies, I replace with a good one…

    Except the “non-stick” fry pans where the spouse likes to make sure her chops are done using a knife…. Then again, she became a vegetarian a year ago…. Hmmm….

  24. H.R. says:

    @E.M. There’s titanium somwhere in the Analon ‘Titanium’ though I’m not sure where. It might be a reinforcement in the non-stick coating.

    The Japanese know steel and they certainly know how to make katanas so it’s no surprise to me that they make a mean kitchen knife.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    Checked the “Cleaver”. It’s a Moly-Vanadium SS Steel from IKEA made in P. Rep. of China. At any rate, seems to chop through anything I’ve whacked with it, as long as I swing with a bit of vigor ;-)

    @HR:

    Just returned from BB&Beyond where they had an “Anolon” 8 inch frying pay “Test Drive” sale. It was $25 and I bought it somewhat on impulse. We’ll see…

    The Very Interesting Bit:

    It says, on the back “Made in Thailand, Manufactured for Meyer Corporation, Vallejo, Ca. 94590″

    Now where have I seen that before ;-)

    It is significanly heavier than the Paula Deen ‘butter melter’ with much thicker base and sides. The non-stick coating looks very similar (but don’t they all). It is described as “Dupont’s Autograph (R) 2″ coating that the brochure says is safe for use with metal implements. We’ll See… it hasn’t met my family yet…

    At any rate, one slightly bent cheap 8 inch teflon with scratches in it wobbly handle fry pan is hitting the recycle and this one is taking it’s place. The brochure also said “Anolon SureGrip (R) Handles, a comfortable combination of Stainless Steel and Silicone Rubber”….”Dual riveted and oven safe to 400F”

    It looks to me like the Paula Deen pans are very similar materials and probably made in the same place ( I can’t imagine Meyer has a whole lot of facilites in Thailand…) but to a slightly “lighter” spec. I’m “good with that” given that a whole set cost $90 as opposed to $90 for one large covered frying pan…

    At any rate, what’s “on the cards” at the moment is a Paula Deen set to replace the broad spectrum of mediocre status pans; then over time, if any pieces die, replacing them one by one with either the Anolon (if the Test Drive survives the family…) or a real Titanium one ( as I just LOVE the idea of a hard core Titanium Pan… I’ve TRIED to destroy some of that stuff. Strong as steel, tough (barely dented a thin plate with a hammer), the anodized finish is rock hard… it’s just so danged expensive as you must hot forge things at a cherry-yellow heat…

    They also had a smallish double boiler “on sale” for $20. “Denmark” brand (made in China and reminds me of the LAST cheap Chinese DB I bought at BBB, though a different ‘brand’…). So I bought it. Cheap enough that I don’t care if it doesn’t last. And I’ve not been able to find a better DB in stores. (WHY they don’t stock one of the best kitchen pots you could ever own is beyond me… but a DB is, IMHO, the very FIRST pot anyone ought to buy…)

    At any rate, I’ll get a bigger and higher class DB over time probably via online order at this point.

    Oh, and I think I’ve got the answer on the “titanium that’s made of Aluminum”…. From an advert for a pot:

    Covered Saucepan – 81317 Great for cooking delicate sauces or hot cereal. Extra thick, heavy gauge, hard-anodized aluminum provides even heating. Specially formulated nonstick interior is designed to provide maximum food release, durability and easy clean up. Beautifully-styled stainless steel HollowCore handles stay cool during stovetop cooking and are oven safe up to 500 degree F.Features: Revolutionary titanium composite exterior – nonporous and easy to clean.

    So it looks like the exterior coating is a titanium “composite” of some sort… Not surprising when you realize that titanium oxide is the white pigment found in just about every paint. OK, it’s a ‘hard aluminum’ with a tough surface ‘paint’ of some sort…

    Starting to sound a whole lot more like the Paula Deen stuff, just with thicker sidewalls and bottom for a bit more even heating (then again, I’ve not seen any evidence of uneven heating even with my cheap pans… so that may be overplayed, at least for my stove…)

    Which now leaves me wondering if the other “titanium” stuff is really titanium… Oh well, be a decade before I can buy any anyway… ;-)

  26. George says:

    Overstock has some Anolon on sale. An Anolon Advanced 10-piece set (around $200), Anolon Allure 10-piece set for under $150 and plain old Anolon 13-piece set for about $160.

  27. Verity Jones says:

    @H.R. Actually we do have a Japanese cleaver and knife with a 10″ very thin blade – a present from Japan I think when a relative went to an ice sculpting competition). You’re right – they do take and keep a great edge. I do use the cleaver but the 10″ blade is unwieldy. I prefer a 6″ for most tasks.

    @E.M. Yes quality is worth it. Non-stick pans last as long as they last – I don’t spend too much, but I don’t expect too much either. But then I have a lovely heavy bottomed stainless steel frying pan too. Heat the oil right and it browns meat far better than any non-stick.

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    @Verity:

    I’m a bit schizo when it comes to pan ‘finish’.

    I’ve got everything from stainless steel and cast iron to enamel and various non-sticks.

    For just about everything but egg dishes, I like the non-non-stick better ;-)

    I can do fried eggs in the cast iron (that’s how I learned to do them when I was a kid… and what was done in the restaurant – the grill being just a giant iron plate… But the fact is that it’s easier with a non-stick pan. Essentially zero chance of ‘stickage’. And while a very sharp spatula on a grill doesn’t even notice (and they become knife sharp after a year or so of sliding on the grill at a 15 degree angle…) using a small household spatula with it’s square edge in a small pan is just not as ‘perfect’ for lifting an egg unbroken when stuck…

    But browning? Give me the SS and oil. I can ‘deglaze’ it later for “goodies” ;-) where the cast iron is not as forgiving to various things in / on the deglazing …. (though I make a mean chicken gravy from the cast iron ‘chicken bits’…)

    For me, the one thing I’ve come to hate is ‘laminated’ bottoms. They have inevitably become delaminated eventually. Solid cast iron is a ‘forever thing’ as is, as near as I can tell, solid copper and solid stainless steel and solid aluminum (modulo the melting / loss of non-stick issues 8-( that I’ve mentioned). So I “run away screaming” from anything “laminated” with the exception of the $20 “double boilers” sold cheap at BBBeyond as I just think of them as ‘disposable’. Someday I’ll save up the $100+ to get a solid SS DBoiler…

    At any rate, I’m “married to teflon” (literally …) as the spouse (and kid) use the fry pans and demand it (and destroy it over time). So every so often I blow $20 or so on a cheap aluminum teflon 2 or 3 fry pan set when they have done in the finish on the old one… (About every 5 years, I think…)

    And every so often I get a ‘permanent’ pan for me ;-)

    I think next it will be a solid SS 10 inch frying pan… no idea what brand, though… it will depend on money at the time.

    The Paula Deen set is interesting to me as my Revereware (stainless with a ‘copper wash’ bottom, not really a plate, more of a plating) is getting very old (at least 25 years…) and some of the pieces have worn through the copper in spots and the handles are getting a ‘dusty’ look to the finish. All still work fine, but… The only one to ever “fail” was the double boiler which had a laminated bottom… and the aluminum plate melted one dry day.

    So I’m thinking of a P.D. set with non-stick for the family and for the pretty finish, and a 10 ” SS skillet for me for the “forever set”.

    But we’ll see. The 8 inch Anolon has kind of filled the immediate need (as a couple of the cheapo non-sticks get ready for the pitch…) and the ‘disposable’ DBoiler fills that nitch for “a while” and the larger non-stick fry pans still have a year or two on them and the Revereware is not THAT worn looking …. and it’s only 9 more months ’till Christmas ;-)

    Sidebar on ‘dutch ovens’. I have a wonderful dirt cheap Mexican “dutch oven” bought at Walmart. It was something like $12 and is about 10 inches around and 4 or 5 deep. It will hold a chicken snugly. I’ve made a roasted potato dish in it from time to time (potatoes, meat, carrots/ cellery / onion, in layers with seasoning and gravy stuff like flour, based on a Cornish or Welsh recipe for an all day slow roasted pot meal) and it works great.

    Just cheap enamel over steel. Washes up with a wipe of the sponge, too. My only complaint is that it is this modestly bright turquoise color with speckles of something else too bright in it. Very Mexican color scheme.

    But thanks to that, I’m sporadically drawn to the idea of enameled pots for stove top use. The thin steel puts me off the idea, though, as it will give hot spots on a burner. But from time to time I think of getting a few pieces of “cowboy ware” enamel at the camping store, just for me…

    The good thing is that my kitchen is too small to hold much more or I’d own a set of each of them… enamel, SS, non-stick aluminum, cast iron… and be shopping for an occasional solid copper if I ever had $300 a pan or $150 for a small ‘sugar pan’

    http://www.culinarycookware.com/sugar-pan-solid-copper-no-lining.html

    Only $1100 for a set of stew pot, fry pan, smaller pot, and saute pan (with ONE lid)… and some ancillary junk to up the parts count like 4 wooden spoons / spatulas …

    http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/catalog/productdetail.jsp?navAction=jump&id=073563

    Why would I want one? Well, I’ve never used one and it would be interesting to trial it… Really, I have NO use for it whatsoever. Just that Aspe “want to complete the experience of all options” urge…

    Ah, well, the small kitchen cupboard is full so it saves me from spending the money I don’t have on things I don’t need ;-)

  29. H.R says:

    Hey, hey, hey, E.M.!

    I saw that set of Paula Dean Pots yesterday and I like’em. I’m getting a set for the missus to destroy.

    Where I saw them, they were “on sale” for $119, so I’ll have to go to Wally-World to get ‘em for $99 bucks.

    Thanks to all who commented above for your thumbs up and thumbs down on various cookery items. I appreciate the info for when I go “toy” shopping.

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    @H.R.:

    Happy to be of some modest service.

    I’ve been trying out the one Analon pan I picked up. It’s like a heavier duty Paula Deen pan. It’s a little more even for things like that tricky job of perfectly browning a grilled cheese sandwich, but a bit heavy for things like tossing a load of pan stuff in the air to flip it… or else I need to do a lot more of it to build up the old arm muscles ;-)

    But I’d not want a full set of them handed over to the “kids” to destroy…. So for me, the Paula Deen is a nice ‘middle ground’ (though I’ll likely pick up some more Analon “just for me” and hide it in the back fo the pots shelves where nobody but me ever looks ;-)

  31. H.R says:

    @E.M.
    Yeah, that Analon is heavy.

    My wife dropped one on her foot 2-3 weeks ago and was limping for a couple of days. I had no sympathy as the set of pots deserved a little revenge for the abuse they have taken ;o)

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