Saturday, January 17, 2009

Can we talk about cooking?

Ok, I need help.

I know that some of you are "foodies." And certainly some of you are more like me, i.e. "I can do it if it is simple and I can find everything at a not very sophisticated grocery store otherwise forget it."

And I have a bit of a kitchen crisis. Last year I bought a set of Green Pans . They worked for like 30 days. Last month one of them blew apart, literally, on my stove. The large skillet is COMPLETELY unusable already.

We are eating at home 6 days a week now (my husband has high cholesterol, and frankly, it's cheaper), so I really NEED new skillets. But I have to be honest and tell you I have no clue on earth what to buy.

The choices make my head spin: stainless, teflon, enameled cast iron, matte enameled cast iron, regular old cast iron, caphalon, super special caphalon, million dollar caphalon, copper, etc.

I wanted to like the Green Pans because I am nervous about the chemicals in teflon.

And I want to like some of the other choices, but, let's be real here. I need something that can go in the dishwasher. And I am NOT a chef, I need it to be easy to use. I do not foresee myself having 3 different skillets and using one finish for eggs and one finish for meat, etc.

My cooking bible is Rachel Ray's 365 No Repeats , so we are not talking Julia Child or Martha Stewart complicated here.

Maybe I should just go back to teflon?

Help me out. What do you use for skillets?

My second small problem is tofu.

Me? I kinda like tofu. I like veggies though. My husband? Generally not keen on tofu. Jack? He LOVED tofu as baby, wouldn't touch it for a few years, and surprised me by eating it for dinner tonight. (He thinks it is fresh mozzarella cheese I think. Same texture.)

My Rachel Ray cookbook only has one tofu recipe in it. It's a good one, an Indian spinach and tofu over rice deal. But since tofu is crazy cheap compared to everything else here (cucumbers were a $1 each this week! and $4 for 3 bunches of green onions, $4!!!!) and it's good for Dave's heart, I want to use more of it.

Anyway, to the point, maybe you have a favorite tofu recipe you would like to share?

Your help is greatly appreciated by this frozen pizza junkie. :-)

35 comments:

  1. You called :-) Okay sauce pans. I have had for 20 years

    http://www1.macys.com/catalog/product/index.ognc?ID=21295&CategoryID=7639

    and love it. But if you are talking non-stick, I say do not spend much. I do not think the non-stick lasts forever. So I look for something not to expensive but with weight. I got mine at Target, Kitchen Aid, for $30.00. You want a nice, heavy bottom for insulation.

    Tofu, my family is not big on it either. I tend to put in into things like smoothies and brownies. But my family loves it, when I cut it in sticks, marinate in soy sauce, garlic, pepper, a little ginger. Then I coat all sides with panko (bread crumbs). I get the skillet hot. I do use a non-stick but still drizzle a little oil in and fry each side. It is crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Good luck xoxoxo Clarice

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  2. I love my Farberware pans. I don't like the black teflon kind - just the basic silver Farberware. I got a Calphon pan for Christmas, but I havne't used it much. It is a nice high quality pan. I am also a huge fan of cast iron pans. I use my cast iron skillet for everything from grilled cheese to stir fry to chicken. If you care for it and season it correctly, a cast iron pan can last until Jack's grandkids take it over!

    As for the Tofu - never had it. I don't eat beef or pork, but I've never felt the need for Tofu either. Maybe I should give it a try?

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  3. I went to plain old stainless steel after I saw Ann Curry get ill-ish from the fumes coming off of a teflon pan on the Today show. Freaked me out. My #1 pan is the George Forman grill which is teflon but we replace it whenever it gets scratched. Usually once a year. I use it several times a week and sometimes several times a day. It's awesome and changed my life. Back to pans. I love the plain stainless because once I burned something real bad and after getting most of the black stuff off I used a bit of sandpaper and didn't fret a bit.

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  4. Oh, and tofu. I used to crumble it in pasta sauce. Sneak attack style.

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  5. Hello and thanks for stopping by. Don't buy telfon...very bad..try to stay with stainless steel and maybe in internet has information about pans.
    I cooked with tofu when my kids were very small and husband didn't care for it. Haven't used it for YEARS.
    Have a blessed Sunday.
    Deb

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  6. I have found that stainless steel is NOT good for making eggs. Or bacon.

    I just recently thrifted a Pyrex Vision skillet. The eggs stuck to that, too.

    Sometimes the best thing for eggs is teflon. As much as it creeps me out.

    (I do love my cast iron, but can't use it on my glass-top stove. I have an electric burner on my island and I can use it there. Although I think eggs stick to that, too.)

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  7. Anonymous8:14 PM

    I use a cast iron pan because I'm not the only cook and all the males in the house can't be trusted to take care of teflon. I find the cast iron is easy to maintain and you can even cut up partially frozen meat right in the pan if you need to. Things like eggs stick less if you use a spray oil. The only thing is cast iron is very heavy so I actually store mine on top of the stove on an unused burner.

    As for tofu I don't use it much but one easy place I used it was when I made lasagna - I bought the firm tofu and grated it and put it in with the soft cheese layer. The kids were fine with it when it was hidden.

    cheers,
    Blueberry

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  8. I bought a set of Vita Craft pans before i got married and I am still using them over 30 years later. At the time some slick salesman talked me into it(I was just a baby, of course), and they seemed expensive, but I guess they were worth it.I use them for most things, except eggs and a few other things cook best in a teflon pan. I buy a new one whenever it starts flaking. I wouldn't buy a whole set of teflon as you really don't need it on anything but a frying pan once in awhile.

    Hope this helps.

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  9. I would never think of myself as a foodie but I have had the same set of Pampered chef pots and pans for almost 9 years now and they look good as new! Good stuff maynard!

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  10. all clad is the way to go , you wil have it forever so it is worth the cost.

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  11. I've had a Calphalon set for almost 18 years. I use it everyday and love it. It's anodized aluminum though, so it doesn't go in the dishwasher.

    I'm no help with Tofu recipes. I've never cooked with it.

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  12. I have heavy duty stainless steel pots and skillets. I love them. I also have a calphalon skillet that I use for eggs....cleans up great.

    I don't cook much with tofu, but one recipe I have made and have loved is lasagna substituting thin slices of tofu for the lasagna noodles. Just layer it as usual with some roasted eggplant, mushrooms, cheese, tofu, sauce and repeat. It is yummy.

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  13. I love my cast iron frying pans....got rid of the fancy stuff and I've never looked back.
    We eat a lot of tofu fried until golden brown in olive oil with salt and pepper. simple and yummy. Try a TLT with in in the summer.

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  14. I have a Calphalon stainless steel set. For those times when I don't want to deal with the hassle of cleaning something like eggs from the pain, I also have the non-stick Kitchen Aid skillet from Target. Love it. I've made chicken parmesan with tofu and it turns out really well. I use the All Recipes site a lot to find new recipes. I looked up tofu and it looks like there are a lot out there.

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  15. I married my husband for his set of Cuisinart pans. Well, not really, and I don't know if they even make them, but we've been using the same skillet and pans for more than 20 years. I like a good, well-seasoned cast iron skillet, too. Calphalon is nice, but I think it's hard to clean. Teflon - bad stuff. It always ends up flaking off, and it can't be good for you. My hint from my days working on the newspaper food page: warm the skillet first, then put in the oil or butter or whatever, and stuff doesn't stick as much. I'm not wild about tofu, but Deborah Green's vegetarian cookbook is one of the best cookbooks ever and has lots of tofu recipes, which I can only imagine are perfect.

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  16. p.s. It's not Deborah Green. It's Deborah Madison. The cookbook is Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. She used to own (and maybe still does) a restaurant called Greens. Honestly, I can't tell you how much I love this cookbook, and we're not vegetarians.

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  17. We eat alot of tofu - I have a tendancy to throw it into everything. Boil it for about 10 minutes before using and it helps it from falling apart in dishes. Sometimes I bake it in the oven and it gets nice and chewy - I throw it in soups, curries, you name it. My family's favorite way of eating it is breaded and fried (I like to use a nice mix of crisco and bacon fat, which completely negates the health benefits and no doubt has sends veggie puritans into heart attack mode). I use a touch of cayenne pepper in the breading, then put it on nice french bread rolls, dressed, just like a Po Boy. Mollie Katzen has some great tofu recipes in her cookbooks.

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  18. I think you need different pans for cooking different things. If you want to make eggs and pancakes and other things that may be more "goopy" and tend to stick, you need a non-stick. If you're trying to sear meat or something, you probably want stainless. I've used non-stick for years and just recently got a set of stainless steel and it's driving me crazy b/c frankly, I don't know how to take care of it and I'm not used to caring for them. Supposedly, you're not supposed to put stainless in the dishwasher, but we have before. Supposedly, you can put stainless in the dishwasher, but you pretty much have to dry with a towel or it gets water spots. The stainless seem to get discolored easily, too, but you can fix that with a 50/50 vinegar water mix that soaks for 10 mins.

    If you get a non-stick pan, don't waste money getting an expensive one. Once they are scratched they are supposedly dangerous to cook with, I think, b/c that's how the teflon releases harmful stuff into your food. Which reminds me that I should also point out if you have a non-stick pan, you should never ever use metal utensils in the pan b/c it will scratch that mush easier and faster and you'll have to replace it. Use wood or plastic only with non-stick.

    So, in summary, I would get a non-stick and a stainless if I were you. I've gotten some decent non-stick pans for $20-30 at target/macys. My mom got me the stainless for a wedding gift, so those were expensive, but I don't know how much, but those last longer, so they're more worth an investment.

    As for tofu...I like that in soup. Try Rachael Ray's Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup (or something like that) and you can add tofu or sub tofu for the chicken. It's also good in miso soup.

    HTH,
    :) Diana

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  19. I love my stainless steel pan set that I got from Costco (Kirkland Signature brand) a couple of years ago. They are stronger than anything, have worn well - if I really shined them up, you probably wouldn't be able to tell they weren't new. They were also fairly reasonably price - under $200 for 6 pans, lids, plus a steamer insert. That said, I do have to make sure to use some sort of grease - usually a shot of oil spray does the trick for things I'm not planning to use oil or butter on anyway. I do have one large non-stick skillet for things I don't want to use grease on.

    When we first got married, I used some cheap Farberware non-stick that we got for our wedding. It worked OK, but I hated that I had to be so careful with it or the non-stick coating would scratch. And I was actually watching the food network a lot when I made the decision on the stainless steel - I noticed that most of the chefs there use stainless steel.

    No tofu ideas here - it's something I've decided I need to learn to like (I did that with squash - eat it enough, you'll like it!), but it hasn't happened yet.

    Happy decision making!

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  20. As skillets, I'm pretty clueless. And for tofu, I can't say I really like it, although I am trying desperately to like it. One thing I do with it, actually the only thing I do with it, is scramble it up with eggs. :) I like it fish sauce, soy sauce, and a tad bit of chili sauce. Oh, and I also scramble in some ground beef. Then, I serve it with steamed white rice. Nothing fancy. :)

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  21. Oh no I just bought those same set of Green pans last week. Now they do say they come with a lifetime warranty so I would say you need to return them to get your money back but you do have my freaking out now. I have used mine a few times and was so excited to not have to woory about cooking on low temp on these. I have had my calphamon set for over tem years now and they are just now showing signs of wear. I also have some excellent Prof Pampered chef pan I love! No to decide if I return the green ones o rnot.

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  22. I had a whole set of pampered chef pans when I first got married (12 years ago). They were alright, but the non stick skillet flaked apart YUCK. I am currently using a set of Bialletti pots and pans my husband bout at Costco like 3 years ago. I Love them. As far as tofu goes I had a delicious Hot n Sour soup recipe that called for it. I need to try and find it if you are interested. It was good, I need to go find it for me ;)

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  23. bought not bout LOL

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  24. Don't have a pan recommendation. My pans are mismatched and on the cheap side. I'd rather have beautiful dishes I guess instead of very high end pans/pots. I do love those pics of raspberries and strawberries though. I'm a fruitie.

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  25. we use calphon stainless steel for everything. We got them for our wedding almost 4 years ago, and they still look brand new, and I use them a lot. Good luck!

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  26. Me too on stainless- I never have a problem with foods sticking (even eggs) but you do need a spray oil. I also have a few cast iron pans and I love them as well.

    Good luck on your decision.

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  27. We try to eat in 6 days a week, too. I use a deep non-stick Calphalon pan for anything I don't want to stick too much, but I handwash it. And a flat one for panckaes, etc. Actually I never put pots, pans or plastic things in the dishwasher even though handwashing is something i dread. we used to eat a lot of firm tofu (press between paper towels to get more liquid out) in various stir-frys, along with veggies, but I've cut down on my soy consumption (thyroid problems).
    Good luck - it will be interesting to see what you decide!

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  28. I have one non-stick that I use for eggs. If I had my dream kitchen (read: gas stove) I would use cast iron for everything else. But, because I have a stupid electric stove, I use a heavy duty stainless steel pan for most of the rest of my cooking.

    When buying stainless, don't buy cheap. Get something that is $$$$.

    However, I am a cook, as in I cook every meal at home, three meals a day. AND I only use One large (HUGE) stockpot, which is actually a crab cooker, one medium size sauce pan, one small soup pot for the times I don't need something as big as my stock, and my omelette pan.

    Instead of frying meat in a large skillet, I just use my pot. Soups get made in the stock pot, and the little tiny egg skillet gets used for everything else.

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  29. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Check Asian cookbooks and web sites for tasty and healthy tofu recipes.

    Skillets--get a heavy, non stick one. Heavy won't warp and therefore will cook evenly.

    --Andrea

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  30. I recently ditched all of our non-stick pans in favor of a stainless set from Costco (the Kirkland set). Sometimes they look like they will never come clean, but somehow they always do and without a lot of work.

    I had one bad batch of rice, so I realized I needed to set the temp a little lower than I was used to. And eggs - I still have a little trouble with those, but overall I have been happy making the switch.

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  31. i've gotta echo jessi - we've had our set of stainless pots from costco for ... 2 years? and they're gorgeous and cook great, clean up super easy and we love them. i would NOT get teflon. too scary. we can do eggs and everything, just remember to grease the pan.

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  32. I'm done with teflon myself - way too scary. That is, once I'm able to buy more. I'm still using the couple that I have left.

    I'm in the same boat - looking for new cookware. I picked up a cast iron skillet last fall and I can't sing its praises enough! I'm a regular cook - I cook most meals and we rarely, if ever, eat out. So, it gets a lot of use. The more I've seasoned it - coating it with oil and baking it in the oven for about an hour at about 350° or so - the more I've liked it. I can't believe I've never used one before.

    Although, on the flip side, you have to wash it out soon after using it so it doesn't rust - and it's not dishwasher safe. But, I really do love it.

    I'm struggling with the egg-thing. They just cook better on teflon. Although, now that the skillet is seasoned really well, they've been turning out better.

    I also just picked up my first stainless pot from Marshalls. It's a Shulte-Uffer Ecoline and it's pretty heavy. You want to look for heft when picking out pots and pans. I plan to look for more of the same brand because I really like this one!

    Good luck with whatever you decide. Lots of opinions here in the comments!

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  33. I love the Rachel Ray cookware that they sell at Kohls. It is very well made and I love the orange color.

    For tofu:
    1. Freeze a block of firm tofu, thaw it and crumble it. Use it in place of ground beef/turkey in flavorful things like chili.

    2. Press and drain a block of firm tofu. Slice it up. Marinate in teriyaki sauce and grill in a George Foreman or grill pan. Serve it over rice with a steamed veggie and extra teriyaki.

    3. Press and drain a block of firm tofu. Slice it up into fingers. Dredge in egg and then bread crumbs. Pan fry or bake. Serve with whatever kind of dipping sauce your family likes (Sadie=ketchup, me=ranch, Dan=BBQ)

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  35. Sarah and Jack: I know selecting pots and pans can be a tough choice with so many options available! I understand that you might be nervous about using Teflon, but allow me to clear up some misconceptions for you on behalf of DuPont.

    In the 40-plus year history of cookware coated with Teflon® non-stick, there have been no reported cases of consumers contracting adverse health effects as a result of in-home normal cooking use. Cooks in more than 40 countries around the world have purchased billions of pots and pans with DuPont non-stick coatings for home and commercial use. For more information, recipes, and other resources around Teflon-coated cookware, take a look at http://www.teflon.com

    Thanks and good luck with your search! :)

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Hi there. What say you?