Then, a couple of months ago I accidentally ruined my large sauce pot when I burned a batch of beans in it. And by burning, I mean reducing them to carbon. It was bad, and I was thankful I didn't catch the kitchen on fire - heart thumping, dodged a bullet, praise the Lord Almighty thankful. A pot is more easily replaced than a room or half a house or a whole house.
One pan disappeared. I know it sounds like I might have helped it along, but seriously, I went to get out my large deep skillet with lid one day to make something, and it was gone. Now, I may have done something with it, but for the life of me I couldn't say what. Maybe put it some place for safe-keeping?
Then, another skillet just died of natural causes. Kaput. So I was down to a couple of skillets a small sauce pan and a dutch oven.
When cleaning out my linen closet, I came across a beautiful, but massive, steamer set up that included a dutch oven-type pot, two stacking layers of steamer trays, and a lid with a hole in the middle that a great cook friend of ours gave us as a wedding gift. I had a steamer basket from another pan along with its glass lid that fit this pot nicely, so I ditched the other pot and kept this set up, as sort of a two-fer.
OK, I'll stop with the back story details. You get the idea that my pan collection at this point was hobbled together and included a Frankenstein steamer combo. And the non-stick surfaces were well-worn.
Now, David and I have both salivated over the shiny All-Clad numbers in the Williams Sonoma catalogue, which by the way is like porn for cooks, but we've hesitated to invest that amount of money in a set of pans because ours worked fine. So, when I started looking around to see what's out there, I thought I'd save up for a bit or just replace one pan at a time.
Not long ago, when I was walking through closeout retailer Tuesday Morning, a shiny stainless pot caught my eye. The price wasn't bad, but I didn't recognize the brand Tramontina and didn't know what exactly to look for in a good stainless pan. I came home and started researching. Low and behold, Cook's Illustrated, a great resource for food and equipment info, recommended the brand's 8-piece gourmet set as a best buy, and that it was available through Wal-Mart for about $150. All-Clad is about $600 for a 7-piece set.
I read user reviews on various websites. I looked all over the Internet to compare prices. I mulled it over. I discussed it with David, and he said, "Buy it". Finally, I agreed and bought it. Stainless is hard to photograph, so this is the promotional picture.
There's been a little adjusting after cooking on anodized non-stick for so long. This doesn't require as hot a burner. The manufacturer recommends no more than medium heat to prevent scorching your food. And you have to heat the pan before putting the food into it. I was a little anxious about using it the first, no, the second time. The first time I just heated Campbell's soup for Andrew. The second time, I scrambled an egg. (The boys still eat eggs too.) I was nervous that it would stick. Pfffttt. No sticking. Clean up was a snap. Pan even looked shiny like new.
The only con thus far is that the set, which varies a bit from website to store and store to store, came with 1.5- and 2-quart sauce pans. Some have 1- and 2-quart, and some have 2- and 3-quart, which would have been my preference, but I couldn't find one in-store. They're a bit small, but I've discovered that I don't need anything bigger many times. I will likely add a 3- or 4-quart pan before the next holiday cooking starts, but for now, it's all good. And shiny. I'm a happy camper.