The Upside of New When the Downside is Old
What do you do when you’re committed to not buying stuff you don’t need, but bit by bit you find you need different stuff? This is the situation that has gradually arisen over the past couple of years, as I began to have more and more difficulty handling my perfectly serviceable pots and pans.
Shiny bright and full of promise.
I loved my old motley set, each one purchased individually between ten and fifteen years ago: professional-grade stainless steel skillet and saucepans, enameled cast-iron dutch oven, enamelware pots that could go from cooktop to oven, and a very large pasta/soup pot with strainer and steamer inserts that I used daily in my commercial cookery. I never had the desire for a matched set of pots and pans, nor did I care much about how they looked, just as long as they worked.
Then I started having days here and there when I’d nearly drop them from arthritic pain in my hands and arms, or even from just being tired. The occasional episodes became regular. I tried to switch hands, and that helped for about a month, then the other hand and arm caught up with the first. I wasn’t in terrible shape–I was just using things that were no longer suitable for my age and the condition of my hands. The pans were too big and heavy, and the handles were too skinny.
It was time to do some in-store research, trying out various skillets for weight and ergonomics. None of the professional-grade ones were light enough, or affordable. There seemed to be a selection of mid-weight stainless steel pans that I could pick up and control. One brand in particular had ergonomic grips that were square and cushioned, which meant they wouldn’t spin around in my hand when I tipped them to pour out the food or to wash them. I really liked the idea of no longer covering my countertops with more food than I managed to get into a serving bowl. I took pictures of the best possibilities (and their prices).
I got online and compared prices and reviews. The three pieces of cookware I needed most to replace were the large skillet, the dutch oven, and the supersize pasta pot. The other stuff could stand replacing, as well, but I was working in terms of priorities. The skillet with the nice non-twisty handles had a companion stock pot the right size–and lo and behold, it came in a set with two saucepans, two skillets, a stock pot, a saute pan, and a bunch of glass lids with easy-grip handles, all for only fifty dollars more than buying the two pieces alone. I could replace everything in one fell swoop.
Sigh. I was about to join the matched-set owners, I just knew it. But that was okay. The set arrived two days earlier than expected, and every piece was in perfect condition. I looked up at the shelf over the range hood, where the giant pasta pot has held court for the past six years. It would look bare up there once I moved it on out of my life. No it won’t, said the part of me that was now the very proud owner of shiny new matching pots and pans for the first time since, well, ever. You can put up a pot rack. Like the ones you used to have at your last house, remember?
After splurging on the pots and pans–which, by the way, are an absolute dream to use–my budget wasn’t going to extend to a pot rack that cost more than the cookware. It’s definitely not that kind of kitchen. But I summoned up enough energy to turn several boards and couple of brackets into a fairly respectable pot rack, with a bit of my husband’s sheer strength to screw it into the wall.
My inner shiny-pot-owner was right. It doesn’t look bare up there any more. And cooking is a lot more fun again.