Last week, I forgot about the shrimp. I set it to steaming and went back to the computer. When I smelled that unmistakable acrid smoke, I said “Oops.” Pretty big oops. I torched a pound of jumbo shrimp, which was bad. More important, I destroyed my favorite pot.

It was a 5-quart pasta/steamer/stock pot. It was stainless steel, about 20-years old. Early Cuisinart. They don’t make that specific pot anymore. I bought something that looked similar, but it turns out that 12 quarts is a lot bigger than I imagined. It’s so big that when it is one-third full of water, I can’t lift it out of the sink, much less hoist it to the stove. You could cook two out of three of our dogs in that pot. At the same time.

Our half pound of pasta got lost in its depths.


The rest of my cookware is cast iron. I love cast iron. It never sticks and it’s low-maintenance. No peeling Teflon in your chili, either.

But. It weighs a ton. Each piece is heavier than the last. I need Garry to move it. When my wrists are in working order, I can move one (empty) pot using two hands. If there’s anything in the pot, I can’t move it at all.

Tonight, I made chicken and mushrooms in white sauce over vermicelli. I filled the big new pot with water — barely a third of the way and had to call Garry to carry it to the stove. Then he had come back to move the frying pan. Garry did the dishes and came out of kitchen exhausted.

“I’m in good shape,” he pointed out. He is. Excellent shape. He exercises every day. It’s a Marine thing. “I don’t mind doing dishes. But that’s ridiculous. Between that gigantic pot and the 20-pound frying pan … I’m beat.”

“I guess I need to rethink my cookware options,” I said.

“You think?” he said.

It turns out I can get a very nice set of Cuisinart stainless 18/10 for $150. But I’d need to seriously rethink the way I cook.

You can’t cook with stainless the way you cook in cast iron. And what will I do with the stuff I own? No way I can get new cookware without getting rid of the other stuff because it’s completely filling up all the cabinets. And shelves.

On the other hand, we aren’t getting younger and those pots aren’t getting lighter. Oh bother.

38 thoughts on “A COOKWARE CONUNDRUM

  1. Pingback: Now | Chris Breebaart Photography / What's (in) the picture?

  2. I do love my All-Clad stainless steel but, I agree, nothing has such even heating like those cast iron pots! ps I burnt oatmeal this past Monday and ruined a cheap stainless pot!


    • I don’t think any pots are as good as cast iron. But I really haven’t a lot of choice given the state of my arthritis, wrists … and that my husband seems to be getting tired of hauling everything because I can’t. So. I passed along the cast iron to the kids and got some decent quality stainless. I hope it works out. I don’t usually do all that much cooking, so if I’m careful, it should be okay. As long as I don’t forget what’s cooking, of course!

      Liked by 1 person

    • We don’t need that huge stuff either, except a couple of times a year … and maybe it’s time to let the youngsters provide the utensils. My wrists are shot anyway, and those super heavy cast iron pots aren’t helping any. Time to reorganize, I guess. Old habits die very hard 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I let go of our old and heavy cooking set years ago, just kept a few piece for special occasion cooking. I looked for something lighter as well. I went with a Rachel Ray cook set and I have to say I like it a lot. It’s lightweight, but heavy enough to cook a good meal. Non sticking and it looks nice in the kitchen (I think they have it in blue, red and orange or something like that.

    Look into it http://www.amazon.com/Rachael-Ray-14-Piece-Nonstick-Cookware/dp/B00URO56CG/ref=sr_1_9?s=home-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1450877986&sr=1-9&keywords=cooking+set

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the tip. I think I’m going with straight stainless because I am not fond of nonstick coatings. They get scratched and peel … at least the way I handle it. I’m addicted to steel implements … I’m going to really have to change my cooking style. A lot. And quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s nonsense. I have mine since 5 years. Nothing peeled or scratches…they look and work the same.
        I like the weight and the quality. Although I couldn’t really afford the good stuff 🙂


      • Much has changed in “non-Stick” world. The new ceramic coatings are getting better and of course are much “Greener” than the old Teflon poisonous ones. I have two fry pans by Cuisinart, with ceramic coatings, that are great. The secret to not marring or scatting non-stick is to not use metal kitchen tools but only wood or silicone implements. Wash in warm, or hot water and mild detergent using a soft brush and you’ll have them for a long time.

        I have some stainless that I seldom use because, as good as they are, they’re still subject to sticking. They are triply layered aluminum, copper and polished stainless as the last surface for cooking. The center layers (Aluminum & Copper) are for better heat distribution and can be used with moderate to medium heat settings. Results can be very good to excellent.


        • I’m just going to have to relearn some stuff. I know I’d ruin a ceramic coating. I’m going to have to learn to turn the heat down. I think if I do that, many problems can be avoided. I don’t even LIKE cooking anymore. Oh BOTHER.


  4. love my cast iron- nothing like an \omelette made in cast iron. Teflon is not the way to go -ever. I use Faberware for other things, it gets the job done and is not heavy!


  5. Just think, the weight of water is 8.34 pounds per gallon making 12 quarts a hefty 25 pounds. Start adding shrimp or anything else and that goes up to one heavy load for anybody. Then there’s cast iron. A 12″ cast iron skillet, without lid is 10 pounds. Add in pasta and sauce and that’s one hard thing to handle hot off the stove with one hand. The powers that be are going to need to include a tractor beam gizmo to move these pots and pans. Maybe a good android maid or exoskeleton for mom can be invented? 🙂


    • I only filled it up about a third … and it was way to heavy. I think the quart in the pot are not quarts liquid. I bet that’s what you meant to say. I’m going to keep the griddle and the old, lighter frying pan. The rest I’ll pass along or donate somewhere. But I will miss it.


  6. I just Googled 12 quarts to find out how much it is. Then I remembered US fluid measurements are different and Googled it again.

    11 litres! Even if that’s only water, that’s 11 kg! Plus the weight of the pot.

    I don’t think I could lift that either 🙂


  7. My MIL before she died gave me her beloved FarberWare. I use it, most of the time it hangs nice and shiny on one of those over-the-sink pot holder things. Like you, I have more cast iron cookware than anyone I know, from four inch egg cookers to a 20 pound monster that requires two hands just to get it to the stove.
    We have a woodstove for cooking, and it fits that perfectly. Much of my stuff I store in the oven, some I hang overhead (it’s a test to see if can still reach that high) and some gets dotted on various hooks around the fireplace. A lot of it came with the house, and I realized, this stuff is like having two sets of owl s&p shakers: pretty soon you have three. And soon everyone ‘knows’ you collect owl salt & pepper sets, even if you don’t.

    And yeah, I have some of those huge canners to heat water–seekrit: fill it only part way and put it on the stove, then schlepp the rest of the water TO it in a large pan or a tea kettle. Lots easier. And lots safer for a woman, since we don’t have the chest muscles to support carrying things like that easily. Something to consider, young lady. =)


    • I hadn’t though of it, but yes, if you take the water to the pot, that’s easier. But eventually, you gotta take the pot OFF the stove and get it back to the sink. That’s when the whole thing goes to pieces. Young lady. I love you. Keep saying that!


  8. Thirty years ago, would you have ever guessed that you would be devoting an entire post to your cookware, let alone whether you could lift it or not? I guess that long ago you would not even have known what “posting” meant!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’ve been connected for … 25 years … give or take. I really was not planning to buy myself pots and pans for Christmas. I never expected to grow old. I thought it was mind over matter 😂 I was wrong. When did people start using POST to mean something put online. Snuck up on us.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Now? Posts. I used to call them panels or pages, before “post” became the word to use. I’ve been in the high tech biz my entire adult life. The vocabulary keeps changing and there’s never been anything resembling a standard of usage. The problem is that the same word can mean very different things depending on who you are talking to, whether they use a Mac, a PC, or UNIX, or something else. I really lobbied for a cross industry conference on terminology. It was a big problem for we writers … and probably an even bigger challenge to users. I’m glad I’m retired!

          Liked by 1 person

            • It’s almost funny. A simple word like “file” or “folder” can have a very specific meaning … or not. Each time I changed jobs (which was often), I had to relearn what each word meant. I still don’t understand why there’s no standard vocabulary for technology. Tech is so ubiquitous, it would be nice if we actually knew what we meant when we try to explain something.


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