When Frank and I married a little over two years ago, we received a variety of cookware as gifts. Among these gifts were two skillets. One was a Le Creuset iron handle skillet.
And one was a Calphalon jumbo hard-anodized frying pan.
For some reason, I must have read the label wrong, or perhaps I didn’t think about it, but I didn’t realize that this pan was aluminum. At the time, I didn’t really know what hard-anodizing was, other than it was NOT Teflon, so I thought that was good! It was just the way the metal had been tempered or something. I remember reading somewhere on that label the words “stainless steel,” which I knew was okay for cooking, but it never occurred to me that the PAN itself was aluminum. I thought aluminum was lighter in color or something. Who knows? But I just didn’t think about it.
As for the cast iron pan, the tiny nub of a handle, the extremely shallow sides and the simple weight of the pan made it extremely hard for me to use! The handle is so tiny on this thing that I simply couldn’t maneuver it by myself, and my hand/arm isn’t strong enough to hold it with one hand by the long handle. I was left fumbling for something to grab onto on a pan that holds heat like nobody’s business!
The result? We ended up using the Calphalon pan. Until recently, when we noticed that the hard-anodized coating was beginning to wear off and food was sticking in the bare spots. Now, I thought that hard-anodized meant that the metal was heated a certain way, and that’s just the way it WAS. I didn’t realize it was a COATING and on aluminum, much less! Once I Googled this pan and found out it was aluminum, I wanted to slap myself for not thinking of it before! I try to hard to be cognizant of toxins in our life, and here we were eating from and ALUMINUM skillet every day!!!
You better believe the next day the first thing we did was march straight into Williams-Sonoma and buy two Le Creuset pans to replace our everyday cookware.
We got a 10″ skillet for heating up lunch every day, cooking onions and tarkas, and the like. And we got a 6qt enameled cast iron dutch oven to cook curries in, and which can also be used in the oven. Luckily for me, Le Creuset has changed its design in the last two years and has come up with a MUCH better handle!!
And (bonus!) our glass lids fit these perfect, so we still have glass lids for these! Yay!
I found a large 12″ cast iron skillet with the nicer handle on Craigslist for …..wait for it…. $10. YES, TEN. DOLLARS. I am still freaking out about it! And it’s red to match my others! Double yay!
The first time we cooked with these, everything stuck to the bottom of the pan. I immediately Googled “food stuck to cast iron” and read that all you have to do is basically make sure there is oil on it at all times. Le Creuset comes pre-seasoned, so you don’t even have to do the work of seasoning your cast iron! The second time we used the cast iron skillet, it worked literally BETTER than a typical “non-stick” pan. For me, I like it because I get all the benefits of non-stick without the guilt and side-effects. Woot!
We’ve since used the skillet, oh I don’t know, six or more times in the last two days? No more sticking food. Not even once. It’s amazing!
Obviously, there are health benefits to switching to cast iron, the main one being that you get iron in your food, and that you’re not eating aluminum or Teflon or some other cancer-causing thing. But now that I’ve made the switch, I’m left wondering why I didn’t do it before! It’s so easy. I mean, with the nice handle, that is!
P.S. I’m sorry if I ever fed you food cooked out of aluminum. I’ll never do it again, I swear!