September 27, 2010

New to the Kitchen (Well, New to Our Kitchen, Anyhow)

We've picked up some new cookware recently, and we're pretty happy about it.

It's been a long time since we had an electric skillet, and now that we've got a new one, we realize we really should have gotten one long ago.  Now, I've been told that a lot of cooking fanatics consider electric skillets to be ... I dunno.  Illegitimate, or low class or something.  Well, to anyone that feels that way, I say to heck with you.  We love ours. 

The one we have is the Presto 06852 16-Inch Electric Skillet with Glass Cover.  This thing is big - big enough to make five small pancakes at the same time -and it is sturdy and it cleans as easily as any non-stick pan I've ever owned, and better than most of them.  We did a fair bit of research before we bought, and we found this one had better reviews than any other model.  Now that we've tried it out, we can see why.

We also bought two Tramontina pans.  One is an 8-quart stainless steel multicooker stock pot with pasta insert and steamer basket.  See below.

This is a wonderful stock pot.  Good size, firmly-attached handles, sturdy bottom... really, the basic stock pot is everything you want a stock pot to be.  Juli's found it helpful for canning as well.  The pasta insert and steamer push it over into being an exceptional bit of equipment.  Note to those who like making soups: Using the pasta insert, you can let meat and veggies simmer to make a good stock, then lift out the insert and remove most of the meat and veggies without straining.  We've already used the steamer, too. We're really happy with this.

The companion to this one is the Tramontina 3-quart stainless steel steamer/double boiler stock pot.  We picked this up just yesterday, as we needed a double boiler to make the Coconut Pudding recipe we had for lunch yesterday.  It works like a charm.

We've been looking at Tramontina cookware for awhile now.  Although it's not a very expensive brand, it gets exceptionally high marks from most reviewers.  Cooks Illustrated rates many Tramontina products among their best buys, and the rank it along with the vastly more expensive All-Clad brand in terms of overall performance.  So, Porsche performance at a Honda price... we can dig that.

The pieces above are the first Tramontina cookware we've bought, but we've been happy with them, and they certainly won't be the last.

We also picked up a couple of Lodge Logic pans.  We'd been looking at a Lodge Logic enameled cast-iron Dutch oven for awhile now, and when we saw one at a better discount than any we've been able to find online, we jumped on it.  For awhile, we've been thinking of buying one of the Le Creuset enameled Dutch ovens, but they're pretty darn pricey.  Then we discovered that, once again, Cooks Illustrated identified a much more affordable brand that competes well with the upper-end champion... and in this case, the brand is Lodge Logic.  Some reviewers have rated it as slightly less durable than the Le Creuset models, but since we got ours for about 1/7 of what we would have paid for the comparable Le Creuset model, I think we'll live with that.  We love the look of the pan, including the nice red exterior finish.  Looks aren't the most important aspect of a piece of cookware, but it's not a bad thing.

We also picked up a Lodge Logic 10-inch cast-iron skillet.  Once again, this is a pan we'd been looking at for awhile now, and I'd been thinking of making some dishes that would work best with this sort of pan (Potatoes Anna or Country Cornbread, anyone?).  So, when we saw the great deal on the Dutch oven, we decided to go ahead and pick up the skillet at the same time.  I plan to use both in the very near future, and will let you know how they function in practice.

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