Searching for the right Pot…

Tonight I’m preparing a pot roast, with potatoes and carrots. Nothing makes the house smell better than a nice roast cooking in the oven — the smells just make it feel so comfortable and familiar. It sort of reminds me of Sunday dinners at Grandma’s house. Grandma always went to church on Sunday, while Grandpa stayed home and cooked — usually a pot roast. It was always cooked to perfection.

Five days ago, on an impulse we decided to purchase a new Breadman TR2700 Breadmaker. I immediately came home and made the sourdough starter recipe that came with my Breadman Breadmaker. Tonight, I’m using the starter for the first time and I’m very excited to see how it will turn out. We are all trying to eat healthier and let’s face it, I simply don’t have a lot of faith in our food supply. There have been too many recalls and too many new regulations on what we can and can not buy or eat.

I consider myself very lucky to have a husband who loves good food and enjoys buying quality kitchen tools and appliances. The trouble I’m having is getting used to all these wonderful new items. You know how it is, every cook has his or her favorite cooking tools that have become habit. When you make this dish, you use that utensil. It’s comfortable. Now, I have all these really nice commercial quality cooking tools and I forget to use them. I love these Tovolo spatulas, I just love to use them, the feel good in my hand.

I didn’t have any trouble getting used to my Vollrath Tribute pans either. When I brought them home, I threw my old teflon pans away. I was concerned for my families health. My pans were at least 10 years old, the teflon was starting to peel and I know I had overheated them many times.

In new tests conducted by a university food safety professor, a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736 °F in three minutes and 20 seconds, with temperatures still rising when the tests were terminated. A Teflon pan reached 721 °F in just five minutes under the same test conditions… DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 446 °F. At 680 °F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses.

It wasn’t until I began researching, cookware sets that I uncovered the details. I had no idea that teflon coated pans will begin to leech into the food, once the pan is heated past 446 °F. I knew that aluminum pans can potentially be  bad to cook in. They conduct heat really well, which is why cheaper pans were often made from aluminum, but you don’t want that stuff in your food.

I’ve gradually been switching everything in my kitchen over to commercial grade stainless steel. It cleans up well, cooks evenly and lasts forever. It’s not cheap but I don’t expect to have to replace any of it in the next 20-years. I simply love my Vollrath Tribute pans — they are even made in the U.S.A., which really pleases me.

I need a new stock pot, which is what has me on the topic of cookware again. My last pot was dropped during our last power outage, when I was heating up water and the side got smashed in.  Time for a new one. So, I was searching around on Amazon (I like to comparison shop, before I plunk my money down on any old thing.) looking for a price on a 16 qt. stockpot made by Good Housekeeping but apparently they are now a Wal-Mart brand, and are not available on Amazon. Besides, the pan was made in China.

During my search I was checking out the Vollrath pans — maybe I would just add a huge stock pot to my cupboard. I just about fell out of my chair when I found a 7-piece set of Vollrath Optio Deluxe Cookware for $99.54 on Amazon. Wait a minute — that can’t be right. You can barely buy a single  Vollrath Trubute pan for that price — let alone an entire set.

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t able to find out much about these pans. The Vollrath website say only that…

Optioâ„¢ by Vollrath is stainless steel cookware is specifically designed for the value conscious chef. Constructed of high quality stainless steel and featuring an aluminum-clad bottom for quick and even heat distribution, all Optioâ„¢ by Vollrath Cookware is Induction ready and perfect for use on any type of stove.

I can’t imagine that the quality is anywhere near the quality I’ve come to appreciate from my Vollrath Tribute pans. I haven’t settled on a pan yet — I’m still doing my homework. I even checked out the  All-Clad Cookware that everyone swears is the best,  but I just can’t see spending that kind of money on a set of cookware. What is your favorite kind of cookware or cooking equipment? How much is too much to spend on food preparation?