When I married the CaveHusband (update: nearly three years ago now), we had a heck of a time with the registry.
(Life is sooooo hard).
We had our food intake down, but were just beginning to explore the other areas of our lives in need of a Primal makeover. We were learning about liver (as in, eating it), genetically-modified foods (Seeds of Deception and The World According To Monsanto blew our minds), the joy of knowing our farmers, and the relationship between quality sleep, eating seasonally, and health. We had our Eat Primal merit badges, but there’s always more to learn.
So, with those boxes checked, the question plaguing us – not to mention mankind – was what kind of cookware should we put on our wedding registry?
While everyone seems to cook in non-stick pans these days, googling (tee-hee…”googling”) non-stick safety yielded far too many conflicting ideas about long-term safety issues. So we decided to remove ourselves from that fray altogether. While the new “non-stick” pans are touted as “safe” with the caveats Don’t Scratch, Don’t Use Near Wildlife, Don’t Overheat and Don’t Get Mad At Us In 50 Years When Your Brain Starts Growing Out Your Ear, we decided to opt for a few more established players. Besides, it says right on the Calphalon website “Cooks with little to no oils or fats.”
If fat-free cooking isn’t against my religion, I don’t know what is.
I understand the convenience of non-stick cooking, but if I’ve learned anything, “convenience” products are generally wolves in sheep’s clothing. Sure, learning a new way of cooking can be a mild inconvenience for us habitual food-burners, but I’d be remiss if I let my own incompetence lead me to campaign for the Froot Loops candidate. Practice makes perfect – and, in honesty, cooking without non-stick isn’t all that difficult.
Enter the three (non-Caveman) Loves of my Life. Stainless Steel cookware, porcelain-enameled Dutch oven, and Cast Iron Skillet(s).
We registered for Stainless Steel cookware because the good glass cookware (the safest, in my opinion, behind cast iron) has mostly been discontinued; and is a bit too risky given the fact that not only did we have to move everything cross-country, we also needed cookware that would stand up to Anger, Frustration, Klutziness, and I Touched The Hot Handle Without An Oven Mitt-ness. While extended use with acidic foods like tomato sauce can cause mild breakdown and leeching, I’m not concerned with the after-effects of sautéing my onions in a gallon of coconut oil. SS is also perfect for re-heating dishes when you’re trying to reduce your micro-wave load. Or avoid your co-workers’ special brand of Crazy.
We picked up the Dutch oven (a misnomer) in Greece on our honeymoon. It was made in a little stoneware shop using traditional techniques combined with Le Creuset precision and we got it at 1/4 of the standard DO price. It’s porcelain over iron and, since my crock pot went kaput, I’ve been using it for everything from soups to oven pork shoulders. I am proud to say that I know my Dutch Oven farmer.
My number one favorite is the cast-iron skillet. It’s old-school, good for baking, heats evenly, makes everything delicious, and it would be perfect for beating the snot out of an intruder. (If only these folks had one.) All you have to do is season it, love it, and remember to use an oven mitt when you touch the handle. I’ve cooked everything from stews and frittatas to bacon and hash in it, and we store it in the oven because…our kitchen is precisely the size of an oven mitt and we use all the storage space we’ve got.
You can take it camping and use it over the fire or a charcoal grill when tailgating. While you can get seriously old-school cast irons like Griswold on ebay, Crate & Barrel carries pre-seasoned Lodge brand which seems to work quite well. What else do you cook with?