My wife, Clarissa, likes frying food in stick-free pans she tosses after a year or so. I fry in cast-iron pans that almost never wear out. And we have a set of long-lived, stainless -steel pans that we both use.
The result is a pan jam that is overwhelming the small kitchen in our century-old New Jersey home.
The drawer where we keep our pans is so stuffed with stick-free and stainless steel pans that we keep all the cast-iron ones in the oven. Every time we use the oven, we have to remember to pull them out first or we end up with some really hot pans.
Clarissa does use a cast-iron griddle for one thing: heating the corn tortillas that her sister-in-law mails to us periodically from across the country. Clarissa likes that griddle so much she has two of them. You’ll find them both in our oven most of the time.
Teflon pans sound good in theory. Food doesn’t stick so you can use less oil when cooking and quickly clean them when you’re done.
That’s true when they’re new. It doesn’t last. The pans start deteriorating and eventually the stick-free surface begins peeling off. Long before that moment arrives, Clarissa throws them out.
“I try not to keep them too long,” she says, adding: “It’s not that I really like them. They’re just a lot easier to use.”
I can’t tell you how many stick-free pans have come and gone while I have been using the same pans for decades. As I’ve written before, I still cook with the cast-iron omelette pan of my mother, who died in 2012. I expect to be using it for the rest of my life, and I hope one of our kids will keep using it after that.
There’s a new kitchen crisis coming our way. Clarissa and I have been binge-watching episodes of “The Great British Bake Off,” where intrepid amateurs compete to bake elaborate cakes and breads. Clarissa is a good baker, but hasn’t done much of it in recent years. The show has revived her interest. She recently baked a carrot cake, using our 39-year-old hand-held mixer—it was a wedding present—to mix the ingredients.
The cake turned out well, perhaps too well.
Clarissa now says she’s thinking about buying one of those big electric mixers that sit on the counter. The only problem is that our kitchen counter is already groaning with a microwave oven, toaster, electric pressure cooker, electric can opener, food processor, knife block, paper towel holder and fruit bowl. Where in the world will a mixer go?
Here we go again.
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