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.