Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kitchen Tip Tuesday - Using Cast Iron & Stainless

I think most everyone has heard about the dangers of nonstick coatings on pans. I had a beautiful set of nonstick pans that I bought shortly after we were married. After hearing and reading about the dangers I slowly started to replace my pots & pans with cast iron and stainless steel. It takes some getting used to but I wouldn't trade them for nonstick anyday...even if they came up with a safe way to make them.

I wanted to share a few photo's of the pans that I use the most now. This first one is my absolute favorite. It NEVER leaves the stove except for a quick scrub if it gets really dirty. We use this for eggs, french toast, pancakes, cooking meat, etc. It was the first cast iron pan I bought and I only paid a little more than $10 for it. It's from Walmart. Check it out here. The great thing about Lodge pans is that they are preseasoned, which makes them much easier to ise. You can read more about seasoning cast iron here.

This is the other cast iron pan I use extensively. This is an oldie but goodie. It was given to me by a friend of the family and it had been with her family for some time. Not sure quite how old it is but it still works great. That's the thing about cast iron...it can survive for generations! Great to pass on to family, not only your actual pans but how to cook with them and your favorite recipes using them.

One of the great features of cast iron is that they don't take a lot to clean. I do not use soap on my cast iron pans because that can take off the seasoning (which is what gives you the nonstick surface for cooking things like eggs). I take a scrapper and scrap off anything stuck onto the pan under hot water. I also LOVE these stainless steel scrubbies. They also work very well with my stainless steel pots and pans.

This is a few of the pans from my stainless steel set, which was actually given to me by my mom. They are not anything overly fancy but they work fabulously! The set also came with a stainless teakettle and some stainless utensils. I do have a few deep cast iron pots and a cast iron dutch oven but they are SO heavy that I only use them if needed.

And this last one is probably my favorite from all of my stainless. It is about the size of a wok and is excellent for cooking one dish meals. I just LOVE it...not quite as much as my cast iron but it is definitely a close second. I just need to find a lid for it now and it would be so much more versitile and would probably creep past my cast iron frying pan.

I wanted to link to some information about why using pots and pans with a nonstick coating is not the best idea. Below are links to a few articles I have found. Mainly when you heat nonstick pans over a certain temperature they start to off gas toxic fumes. You can easily reach these temperatures just from preheating your pan. If you do use nonstick pans please make sure to use them over ONLY low to low/medium heat. Anything higher can release those gases into the air you breath.

Environmental Working Groups page about Teflon, PFOA & Scotchguard.

WiseGeek Article about the risks of using Teflon.

There is a lot more info out there about the dangers. Check it out for yourself! And please check out TammysRecipes.com for more Kitchen Tips!



R. Mansfield said...

Heather, congrats on getting rid of the Teflon!

Hey, I belong to a great cast iron discussion group. I'd like to invite you to it if you're interested.

Simply go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/castiron_cookware/ and sign up. The listowner, Delia, will screen you because screening keeps out the spammers. But I've already sent a link to your post here to the group.

I hope to see you on board. We have lots of discussions on cast iron cooking and related subjects. You can find recipes, photos and links to resources.

BarbaraLee said...

I have a few pieces of the c/i. I like them for eggs. Dh says he can taste the pan of the nonstick. I have one little one. It rarely gets used. But I didn't know about the washing stuff.
I use to have this really big c/i pans. It was 2 pan in one. They interlock so you use the one for a lid. The other one was nice and deep but not a dutch oven. Unforunately I lost it when we moved several years back. It was my favorite.

R. Mansfield said...


What a tragedy to lose your favorite pan! The good news is that you can still get these. Lodge has two different offerings.

One is called the Combo Cooker and is essentially a deep fryer and a skillet that fits on top. That sounds closest perhaps to what you were describing since you specifically said it was not a dutch oven (although such combo pans can be used as dutch ovens). You will find the link to the Combo Cooker here: https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefront/product1.asp?menu=logic&idProduct=4044

Then Lodge also offers an actual 5 qt. Double Dutch Oven here: https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefront/product1.asp?menu=logic&idProduct=4082

No, I don't work for Lodge, but I really do like their pans!

Loretta said...

I'm a stainless steel woman myself. I agree about the non-stick coating. Did you know that pet birds can die if you use non-stick coated pans to cook with?

I also love cast iron, but tend to keep them for camping only. My parents keep a favorite one on their stove too.
Loretta at: http://veganfootprints.blogspot.com/

The Happy Housewife said...

I love my cast iron too! I am looking into buying stainless soon, but need to keep saving a little longer!

Donielle said...

This past fall I decided to switch all my pans over from teflon. Best 'healthy' thing I've done in the kitchen! So far I only have one cast iron and one stainless. Next on my list of replacements is the pots!

Another of my favorites reasons to go stainless or c/i other then the health issue, is that they ARE cheaper! My teflon only lasted about 5 years before it was junk. Cast iron and stainless last forever!

Thanks for the great links!

R. Mansfield said...

A week or so ago, we made a complete meal using multiple cast iron pans (with the exception of the mashed potatoes). Meatloaf, cornbread sticks, green beans & shallots, and of course, mashed potatoes. Feel free to check out the pictures here: http://gallery.mac.com/rmansfield/100148

Click on the pictures to get a larger view.

Anonymous said...

Hey sis,
Glad to see the pan I got u is one of your favorites. I am slowly getting Al to switch to stainless. I think he only has one nonstick left and he said today he needs a new one. I think I'll talk him into getting a stainless one.
If you want a lid for the big stainless pan you might want to look at Linens and Things, thats where I bought it.

PS My nephews are the cutest!!