Who knew frying pans would be such a hot topic within a group of friends, but during a recent gathering I mentioned that we needed a new non stick pan and suddenly the room was all ears. Of course before non stick teflon there was stainless steel or cast iron fry pans, which was all I used until I met my husband. He was willing to cook but not willing to relearn the finer nuances of using cast iron, which is absolutely non stick if used properly. Now there are so many types of pans on the market to chose, with teflon becoming a hazardous material it was time to research a better way.
So after years of using teflon (eeek I never liked the stuff) I had finally convinced my husband to go green with the next pan. The reasons why I wanted to switch were that teflon was a know carcinogen and when the pans break down you are ingesting flakes of PTFE, which, when heated emits toxic fumes, toxic enough to kill pet birds. (canary in the mine anyone)
A few weekends ago we trekked over to the kitchen store for a new pan, I thought we would try stainless steel and found a nice pan with a copper bottom. As soon as we brought it home the pan was washed then prepped for the cooking test! This pan was backed by a well know TV chef and I thought that would mean it would be a good quality. Not that the pan didn't have any weight to it, it did, but the first time we cooked with it the entire side wall on half the pan scorched to the point that after 30 minutes of scrubbing I still couldn't removed the stain from the stainless steel. I am not a stainless rookie, I have had my stainless steel waterless cookware for 30 years with not one scorch or stain, not one. This pan was going back to the store from whence it came, blam...
As chance would have it I was watching a cooking show the next day and they mentioned a non stick material called ceramica made with non PTFE/PFOA and also petroleum free materials. According to the packing material ceramica is hard anodized, has superior heat conductivity and uses less oils to cook with, the handle is made with recycled steel! We used it for the first time tonight and so far it seems to be an excellent choice but I will let you know how this, umm, pans out.. ;)
(Below is a little history of my frying pan adventures when younger)
My mother has a smaller cast iron pan that she forbade us to cook anything but eggs, so as to not make it sticky, for good reason. My mother said that the fiber of anything other than eggs sticks to the surface and grab the eggs microscopically, made sense to me, we didn't have google back then so I had to believe her. She allowed us to cook anything in the larger pans and they never gave us any sticking problems either, of course a good scrape with a steel straight edged spatula would pick up anything more stubborn. The other, and adventurous, way to get anything stuck from cast iron was to put a little warm water in right after you took all the food out and let it steam the remains off. (don't over heat or burn your pan then put cold water, that spells disaster)
Oddly enough I have 4 cast iron pans that came from a friend who had never learned to use them, got frustrated and threw them outside in a fit, she was more than willing to let me take them all. Off course I knew that a little scrub with fine steel wool would smooth out the pits and they have been wonderful to me ever since. I banned my husband from using my cast iron pans after I came home to find them soaking in a sink of water where they had been since breakfast, oh my. Click here for a funny and informative post about use and care of cast iron