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Nice Pots and Pans…..Who Knew?

I never thought that at 60 I would just now finally be learning how to use Stainless Steel cookware. I admit that I never really cared about cookware. I liked non stick and went through a lot of pans over the years as the surfaces just don’t last. But they were cheap and plentiful.

I have little memory of the cookware my mother used other than the big cheap thin pot we used for making soup and of course popcorn. We did have a couple cast iron fry pans that were big and black and were used for everything. Beyond them, the rest was just there.

It was not until my 2nd divorce and I had to start over with nothing at 40. I picked up my first good set of cookware at a Caphelon outlet. A heavy set of pots and pans enameled and non stick. I loved them and used for years but they also started to lose their non stick quality. I discarded a few pieces and supplemented with more non stick pans until the last year when I picked up my first stainless steel fry pan.

I saw it at a yard sale. It was very dirty, dusty, greasy but it was a size I really wanted. 12″ across. I asked how much it was, $3.00. Sold. I took it home and gave it a good scrubbing and it turned out like new. Heavy duty aluminum clad bottom Farberware skillet.

Now I never had a a lot of luck with stainless steel in the past, it always sticks. So I did some reading on how to cook with it and found my main problem was cooking at too high of a temperature. So I slowly began to learn how to best use the pan and I was hooked.

I went to the store and looked at Stainless Steel pan sets. OMG, the prices were up there and I found the quality was not as good as the pan I had. So, I went on a quest to locate more used stainless.

At a local thrift store I scored with 3 pots made by Farberware and Revereware. Both excellent companies. I kept my eyes open for the cookware and over the last year I have built my collection to include some fine pieces that I never could have afforded new and now that quality is almost impossible to find at any price.

I read up on proper care as I did not want to scratch the shiny surfaces up. I found non scratch scrubbies are best, and to really make them shine, a little Barkeepers Secret on a wet sponge does wonders to remove stains.

I have mostly Aluminum clad but did manage to score one nice tall 8 quart copper bottom Revereware stock pot for $10.00. My collection is up to around 12 pieces complete with lids. Yesterday I scored at a Goodwill with a steamer pot for $2.99 that fit a Revereware pot I have perfectly, making it a more complete piece.

I still only have one fry pan in the set, it seems that people are less likely to give one up than a covered pot. But I am still hunting. And that is part of the fun.

Update: I have since managed to find two 12″ Revereware frying pans with lids and a smaller 10″ one too.  Also a 10″ Farberware pan with no lid, but I found one from another pot fits it fine.

I have since distributed some of the pots and pans to our camper where we spend weekends in the summer. I find I still feel oddly “rich” to be able to use such nice cookware. It is the little things.


Catherine Tobsing, owner Windy City Parrot and Bargain Hunter Nothing quite gets my heart pumping like a good Rummage Sale. The thrill of the hunt gets me twitching until I find that first deal. Then I can relax and cruise. Compliment me on my outfit, I will tell you how little I paid for each item. I have no shame in wearing thrifted clothing or live with used furnishings. My home is a showcase of a lifetime of dumpster diving and alley picking and I wouldn't have it any other way.

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