So anyway. I've had this set of cheapo nonstick cookware for several years (before which I had other, cheapo sets of nonstick cookware). Over time the 12-inch skillet--the pan I use most often, almost every day in fact--has become more and more warped and wrecked. And I love to cook, you all. I cook a LOT. Every day. And cooks need operable tools. But I don't have high-quality tools for that part of my housewife/mom job, because we could never afford them. Really good cookware costs hundreds of dollars, any way you slice it.
This horrible pan became more and more horrible, and every now and then I'd say to Christopher, "We should start buying one high-end piece of stainless cookware at a time, like once a year for my birthday or Christmas, to gradually replace our horrible cheapo nonstick set." I'd done my research, weighed the merits of hard-anodized vs. stainless, All-Clad vs. Calphalon and all the rest, and I knew what I wanted. But then some new bill or expense would crop up, and I'd say, "Screw it. We can't afford it right now. We'll have to do that later." And I'd just keep cooking as best I could with my wrecked, sticky, warped, possibly-carcinogenic "nonstick" saute pan that I used almost every night to make dinner.
Every now and then I'd have a truly maddening experience, like the time I literally could not make pancakes for my family because my pan was so warped that every time I poured a circle of batter into the pan it would run off to the one corner of the pan that still met the cooktop surface. And the thing is, over the years I could have bought the good stuff--which lasts forever, guaranteed--with the money I'd spent on serial cheapo nonstick cookware sets that eventually wore out anyway.
One night last week, Christopher was out on a cycling club ride in the evening. Vivi was inconsolable about going to bed without Daddy home, so to make her feel better I promised I'd make something special for breakfast, like French toast.
The next morning it took me a full half hour to cook four pieces of French toast in my horrible skillet because the pan was so peel-y and sticky and warped and wrecked that the bread kept sticking completely to the pan, and also not really cooking, because the pan's surface didn't evenly sit on the burner anymore, and I had to keep doing it over. It was a school morning, time was tight, and all I could think was, All I want to do is make French toast for my daughters, and I cannot, because of this piece of *&!# pan. Enough!
When Christopher came downstairs I held up the pan and said, "I don't care that we really can't afford it and that we have loads of bills; I am a housewife and a mom and a cook, and I DO NOT HAVE THE TOOLS I NEED TO DO MY JOB. I'm going on Amazon* TODAY and ordering a Calphalon Tri-Ply stainless steel 12-inch saute pan with lid, even though it's crazy-expensive and I will have to put it on my credit card, because I CANNOT USE THIS PIECE OF &#!* PAN FOR ONE MORE DAY."
I believe he backed out of the way and nodded. [I did need to use it for another day, however; in fact more than one, because I had to wait for my pan to come via UPS.]
Yesterday my pan arrived. Here is my nice, new, expensive, lifetime-guaranteed, Calphalon stainless steel (read: will never warp or peel, does not give off carcinogenic nonstick fumes and particles) 3-quart saute pan.
You guys! So pretty.
Here is my old, crappy, cheapo pan.
Even more disgusting and useless in real life, I promise. And no lid!
Which I promptly walked over to the trash bin in the garage and tossed.
$103 plus shipping has never been better spent.
*[I am conflicted about ordering from Amazon rather than buying from small local shops, but I do it all the time anyway. Again, a matter of personal economics as well as geography; I can usually find great deals on Amazon, far cheaper than at an independent shop, plus we live in a small town with few shopping options. In this case, we have a kitchenware shop downtown, but the other thing was that this pan, the one I really needed and wanted, is no longer being sold individually (only as part of the large set, which I don't want because I already have a stainless stockpot I got long ago as a gift) but you can still find a few through Amazon. And thus ends my explanation of my shopping actions for those who care.]