Monday, March 3, 2008

Stainless steel cookware

Talking about making peanut butter fudge got me thinking about cookware. Good cookware isn't easy to find and usually costs a mint (has anyone priced All-Clad?) We had Calphalon anodized for years and I liked it, but my husband wanted to try a set from Sam's Club that his friend thought was better.

Now, I have ethical issues with a lot of Sam Walton's legacy, but occasionally I end up buying at Sam's or Walmart. Sam's, because they have the best beef in town and I got tired of buying tough steaks. I also buy food monthly to take to the food pantry and I can just make my dollar go farther buying the canned goods at Walmart.

So, we trooped to the Sam's Club and looked at the cookware. It was their store brand and made like the All-Clad triple ply stuff - a layer of aluminum clad on either side with stainless steel. The set had two skillets, two saucepans, dutch oven, shallow saute pan, steamer insert, and lids. I forget what it cost, but it was around $130.00.

It only took cooking with this new set for a couple of days before I was hooked. It heats evenly, cleans like a breeze, and is heavy sturdy stuff - no warping here. I love it. But, I wanted a little 8" skillet and a middle size saucepan, and Sam's only sold the sets. So I went online and started searching for "Tri-ply Clad".

And, I found the Tramontina brand at the webstore for a California kitchen supply company called Kitchen Fantasy. It looked absolutely the same as the Sam's product. Everything but the brand mark was identical. I ordered the pieces and love them too.

Sam's doesn't carry this line anymore, and it's a shame. By far, it performs better than any cookware I have owned in 35 years of cooking for myself. If you want the Tramontina, you will have to pay more, but it will last forever and is work the investment.

Oh, and one more thing: Barkeeper's Friend is the best cleaning/scouring powder I have ever used and is great for keeping the water spots off the shiny stainless.

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