Every Monday, I answer a few of the questions that my readers send me. If you have a question you’d like me to answer in a future Q&A post, just leave me a comment here or email me (thefrugalgirl [at] gmail [dot] com) and put Q&A in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you!
I’m just wondering if you have any opinions of cast iron. I know you advocate heirloom pieces and I’m looking to build a repertoire of life-long cook ware and I’m wondering if you think that’s the way to go for most everyday cooking? I have my grandmothers cast iron skillet and I’m hoping to use it but I haven’t used it yet.
I do indeed use some cast iron pans. I’ve got a 12-inch cast iron skillet and a fairly small cast iron skillet, and then I also have an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.
I got the 12-inch cast iron skillet when I was trying to get rid of nonstick cookware in my kitchen, and I’m pleased to say now that it’s seasoned, it’s pretty much eliminated the need for nonstick. I can even make things like crepes in it without them sticking, and I frequently make eggs in my small cast iron skillet without any sticking problems.
The problem with cast iron is that it’s really, really heavy (which I’m sure you know if you’ve lifted your grandmother’s skillet!), so it’s no good for recipes that call for shaking the pan around…lifting those pans is a two-handed endeavor.
Oh, and you should know that I’ve (carefully) used my cast iron pans on my ceramic-top stove with no problems.
Anyway, I use my cast-iron skillet a lot, but I also have an All Clad Stainless-Steel 12-Inch skillet, which I use really frequently.
I think both of those pans will last a lifetime, and I’d be hard-pressed to give either of them up!
Cast iron pans need a bit of special care, and here’s a good article about how to do that. There are also plenty of YouTube videos about cast iron care.
I’ve just started bread baking and am trying to figure out a frugal and non disposable way to store the baked bread. For this first batch we put our baked bread into gallon sized Ziploc bags-but that’s expensive and not very earth friendly.
We thought about saving our commercially bought bread bags.
What do you do?
Yep, that’s exactly what I do, in part because it’s tough to find plastic bags that will fit a loaf of bread.
Commercial bread bags can be reused many times before they wear out, and since they’re generally not housing anything sticky, I don’t even wash them between uses. I just shake the crumbs out, make sure the bag is totally dry, and put it in the drawer.
Commercial bread bags are especially great for things like freezing homemade French bread loaves, which are way too long for any plastic bag on the market.
(For those wondering, though I do bake lots of bread from scratch, we end up needing to buy commercial loaves here and there, and that’s how I end up with a small supply of bread bags.)
I need a new pot, 6-8 qt size, for things like, making pudding and heating milk for yogurt. I was wondering if you had an recommendations.
If you want something that’s not cast-iron, Cook’s Illustrated highly recommends this All-Clad Stainless 8-Quart Stockpot, but the price is pretty steep (over $250). I don’t own one, but I really love the All-Clad skillet I do own, and I hear really, really excellent things about All-Clad pans.
For less than $50, you can get a Lodge color enameled Dutch oven, but honestly, I’m a little iffy on enameled cast iron. I don’t like how careful you have to be with the enamel coating, and I find the coating to be pretty sticky. I do use mine regularly, but I’m not super happy with how the coating has held up.
A plain cast iron Dutch oven wouldn’t be terribly appealing to me either. The main appeal it holds in the 12-inch skillet size is the non-stick factor, but I generally don’t need a nonstick surface when I’m using a Dutch oven.
So, I’d be inclined to save my money and get the All-Clad Dutch oven. I think it would last the rest of your life, so your cost per year would be pretty darn reasonable.
Readers, what stockpot/Dutch oven would you recommend? And do share your bread storage and cast iron opinions as well.