Kitchen Essentials: Pots & Pans

I feel very attached to my pots and pans. Good cookware is essential for good cooking results. It does make a difference what kind of knives you use, and what type of cookware is being used to create a dish.

When I got engaged in 1990, my grandparents purchased us an entire set of stainless steel pots and pans from B. Altman's department store in NYC, which has since closed. The name of the cookware was BELGIQUE.
It was a middle of the road, stainless steel, copper bottom lined set of pots for about $199. for all 5 pieces.
I actually still have the set and use them once in a while. It has held up very well for 18 years, no rust, no warping, and heavy enough to tough it out through the years.

When I realized that I loved to cook early in my marriage, I knew I needed to upgrade my kitchen tools. So, each year, I purchased one piece of All Clad Pro Series stainless cookware, as my budget allowed. Though pricey, it was worth every penny. My favorite piece being the large 18" covered skillet which I use to fry my crab cakes & veal cutlets for my Veal Milanese. They come out perfect every time. Nothing sticks. The handles stay cool to the touch, and you can put these pieces in the oven as well.

A few years ago, I coveted a huge enamel cast iron Le Creuset 7 quart French oven (stockpot) for about 200 bucks.
Hmmmm, where will I store it? It's so big.
Do I feel like spending that kind of money on a pot? I could buy a pair of shoes....

Well, I did finally purchase it and have never looked back.
It is my absolute favorite pot of all time. It is a pretty blue. It sits proudly on my stove, since my tiny kitchen has not an inch of room to spare for storage.
It braises, browns, makes beautiful stews and soups in the winter and cleans up like a dream (my husband will attest to that). It will last the rest of my life, and probably someone else's after me!

By the way, I NEVER use nonstick cookware for anything but an omelet.
Nonstick does not brown foods, it steams them. Don't invest your money in a set of nonstick pots & pans, you only need one piece in your repertoire.

PS. I couldn't resist buying this pair of STAUB mini cocotte pots at TJ Maxx the other day. I loved the color. They are individual serving size. What the heck am I going to make in them?????

What is your favorite cookware?


Patsyk said…
I've been thinking of upgrading some of my pots and pans to stainless (preferably all-clad), but haven't done it yet. I've become so annoyed using the non-stick stuff I have because it really doesn't cook the food properly. It's funny the more I cook, the more I find I need better tools to do it properly.

I got the red Le Cruset pot for my birthday last summer... I've used it once so far for a braise and I was thrilled with the way it cooked so evenly. I have to start planning something to make in it each weekend because it's one of those pots that cooks perfectly AND is pretty to look at!

I love those little cocette pots! Wish I had seen them, but I don't have a TJ Maxx nearby... maybe Home Goods will have them next time I stop in! Can't wait to see how you use them!
Anonymous said…
I love Le Cruset. I'm guilty to say I own five of their pots, a spoon holder, salt crock, and six tiny white baking bowls. I almost bought the same mini crocks at TJ Maxx myself. I would make mini mac and cheese in mine. Maybe scalloped potatoes would work. Or for dessert would fill half of the mini crock with brownie batter, bake it and serve with a bit of ice cream right on top. The opportunities are endless!
Anonymous said…
I'm with you on good equipment. I just got a LC 7q dutch oven at an outlet and was thrilled. It's not the great Kiwi color I wanted but the price was so good. My hubby got me a set of All Clad a couple years ago and it's really increased my enjoyment of cooking. The main thing I'm still pining for is their saucier pan...
kat said…
I love love love my Caphalon hard annonized (sp?) cookware. It cooks beautifully & the weight is so nice. I do have a few of their non-stick pieces but just the griddle & one omelet pan. I have the red Le Cruset dutch oven which we use all the time. The next most important thing in the kitchen to me is good knives!
Giff said…
I think that a large Le Creuset or Staub dutch oven is crucial! Both are high quality... Le Creuset is a little more convenient to wash since it is enameled inside too.

I also love my Lodge cast iron pots. They cost virtually nothing, and are fabulous to cook with. They are heavy and being cast-iron take a little more work, but I love them.

My primary kitchen-equipment foible is a total aversion to plastic.

And good chefs knives are critical. Expensive but they last forever.
SarahB said…
My Creuset has to be the fave, especially now that it's braising weather! We absolutely LOVE our MAC knives too. All Clad is essential in the kitchen!
Lori Lynn said…
Hi Stacey! Thanks for visiting my blog and your kind words. Marie is terrific. Glad to find you too. Love Le Creuset, I have a French Oven, in white, but my absolute favorite piece is my red tarte tatin pan. I use it all the time, yes for tarte tatin, but also for quiche (posted many). Looking forward to browsing your site.

Lori Lynn
Pam said…
I have two Le Creuset Dutch ovens. One is small, perfect for roasts. The other is medium size. I then have a large 7 quart Lodge Dutch oven. They are my absolute favorite pans in the world!
Anonymous said…
I love the stay cool handles on my All Clad skillets. Definitely worth the expense. And, I couldn't live without my chef's knife. 10" Wusthof. Your little Staub pots are so cute! You could use them for a couple of warm and melty baked dips.
The Food Hunter said…
I have a 7 qt in red and love it. I think you're right, it will out last me.
I have that blue one just like you!! I got it 3 years ago. Can't live without it! I also have the red saute pan that I got at the Le Creuset outlet which I discovered on our trip to Napa last May. But guess what??? They just opened one up 10 miles from my house! Woo Hoo!!!
Anonymous said…
I love anything by Le Creuset, they're quite expensive but they last a lifetime. Not a bad investment i think. Those STAUB mini cocotte are beautiful too. I saw them at the store and i wanted to buy them. I'll wait a little bit. :-)
krysta said…
i have the same excact le crueset pot. i love my magnalite pots and pans that my husaband gave me as a wedding gift. magnalite was the pots and pans used by the cia before they switched brands much to everyone's (students) chargin. after 15 years of everyday cooking and high heat, they are still new.
Queen B. said…
I love Le Creuset also. TJMaxx is a great place to find Le Creuset !
I can't decide if I want the 5.5 qt. or 7. What do you think ??
I am looking for one that I do soups/chilli/stews in.
Stacey Snacks said…
Queen B.,
If you have room to store it, the 7 quart is your best bet.
Soups and stews and braises are just wonderful.
TJ's won't have that one, but you never know! I saw a mini Le Creuset pot the other day for $69.99. I didn't need it!
Catherine said…
Thanks for all the specifics. Now I want to rush out and enjoy the luxury of Le Creuset!