I’m in love with the “new” kitchen we created by replacing our pots and pans, cookie sheets, and plastic water bottles with stainless steel, and our mixer too. The added grain mill and bread machine completed the makeover. It’s fantastic because we are cooking more things than ever before but spending less time in the kitchen with the cooking and cleaning than ever before. And the food we are preparing is better for our health. If that’s important to me, a non-innkeeper, just think how important it is to you and your guests! Here’s what we did with the cookware of pots, pans and cookie sheets.
Through the years, my collection of pots and pans has included aluminum, stainless steel, cast iron, forged steel and enameled items. I had various reactions to the different pots and pans, but never thought much about their composition, until the aluminum scare started. Then I started paying attention to my health.
Research indicates cooking in aluminum pots and pans leaches aluminum salts into the food. Too much aluminum salt in diets has caused all kinds of health problems. Of course, there had been people who were concerned about cooking with cast iron, but the fear generated with cast iron was nothing compared to that of cooking with aluminum. Out went my aluminum pots and pans and in came the non-stick and enameled ones.
When articles about the hazards of non-stick coatings started crossing my desk, I became quite concerned about our aging cookware. I decided to research the claims further and concluded it was time to retire our non-stick cookware. Non-stick coatings break down over time and leach into the food it comes into contact with. High heat can be especially bad in regards to speeding the leaching process. Scratched and flaking non-stick coatings are also a problem. Ours were flaking, fading, and sticking. Out went the non-stick pots.
We didn’t know what direction to go in replacing the non-stick. I’d liked my enamel pans, but they were heavy. I liked my cast and forged iron cookware, except the cast iron was heavy and both rusted easily. My husband liked his non-stick, when it was non-stick. I didn’t really remember much about the stainless steel pans I’d grown up with, but knew my parents were still using it forty years later.
Google research gave me lots of good ideas and information, so I turned to by gourmet-cook brother for his definitive opinion. His recommendation was to save money and buy a great set of Farberware pots and pans. His are 30 years old and going strong, and are lighter weight and more durable than his enamelware. Best yet, Farberware is much cheaper than All-Clad and other name-brand stainless steel pots and pans. Why pay the price for Wolfgang Puck, Emeril, Calphalon, Le Creuset or Analon pans when Farberware has the same quality for less? We bought two sets, a 10-piece and a 12-piece of Farberware Millennium pots and pans. We are content with the various sizes we have, and don’t run out of pans anymore during our cooking fiestas.
My husband was skeptical that stainless steel would be as easy to clean as his Analon non-stick pans, but is thrilled with how easy they are to clean; maybe easier than the non-stick pans. We can use any kind of utensil in them without fear of hurting them; a nice change from the non-stick surfaces. They heat nicely too — evenly and quickly. The set we chose was with the silicone handle and solid lid. The silicone handle is a nice touch, so to speak, because we no longer have to have a hotpad nearby for grabbing the pan off the stove. I miss the glass lid to see inside the pot, but it’s a small price to pay for the quality we feel we have. The steel does discolor a bit with use, but I don’t mind since I’m not needing to impress anyone with shiny pots and pans.
Then came time to replace baking items. Out went my old aluminum cookie sheets and cake pans. In came the stainless steel pans and cooking sheets. Between those and the cooking stone, we feel we can bake anything we want in a healthful way, and not suffer in the clean-up phase of the cooking event. We chose a range of sizes to accommodate just about any recipe we were going to use.
In addition to stainless steel bakeware, we are using silicon muffin/bundt cups and glass pie pans. I love the ease of clean up with these muffin pans. My biggest challenge when first using them was handling the pan when the cups were full of batter. My solution has been to slide them onto a lip-less cookie sheet and then onto the oven racks. The baked goods come out of the cups easily and look great. And silicone spatulas and hotpads have long been cherished accessories in my kitchen.
And here’s a healthy idea for your gift shop: stainless steel water bottles. With some detective work, or a great marketing advertising specialist, you can get them made with your inn’s logo on them too. I recycled all of my plastic water bottles and held off on buying Nalgene or aluminum bottles, all because of research indicating there could be health risks associated with each option. But so far, stainless steel gets glowing reports because of the lack of associated health issues. I have a 27-ounce bottle covered in plastic with a clever pour-spout top that I use for my basic journeys into town. But for my big needs I have several 40-ounce stainless steel water bottles with loop tops that screw off to reveal big-mouth openings. There are several sizes I have found that I like:
- An 18-ounce with a loop cap.
- A 24-ounce with a loop cap.
With the DeLonghi stand mixer, DeLonghi wheat mill and Zojirushi bread machine I talked about in the last issue, and the Farberware Millennium pots and pans, you’ll be set with an efficient and delightful kitchen to work in to create wonderful food for your guests — and yourself.