So….I’ve been guest cooking a bunch lately. (Read, cleverly escaping the cold and inviting myself to friends’ homes located in warmer climates – trading off home cooked meals and kitchen tips as currency).
On one such recent stay, I was at the home of a friend who had lost pretty much everything in a dryer fire – v dangerous those dryer fires, fyi. She and her husband had culled through their belongings and tossed what they deemed ‘unsalvagable’. Sux.
They don’t cook with any regularity. OK, they don’t cook at all. Not their thing. They both work full time, they have three kids (fab boys), 4,500 baseball games per week and then more on the weekends….yada yada yada. There’s a lot of pizza, pasta, mac & cheese, take out, slurpees, bagel bites (huh?), refrying, reheating, microwaving. You get it.
When it came time to assess their kitchen stuff post fire…well, most of what they had in their culinary arsenal, was as old as their marriage…but, had not fared as well, I’m afraid.
Some of the damage everything in their kitchen suffered was due to the fire. But, maybe more of it was due to years of use and abuse.
Which brings me to their current frying pan situation. I was gearing up to make chicken milanese for them and their brood of boys – 8, 12 and 14, so grown up…seems like just yesterday I was teaching them the diarrhea song.
Anyway…When I asked for a large fry pan, my choices were limited. If there were larger fry pans at one point in their world, those have long since been tossed or lost. My hostess with the mostest handed me two options:
- a 10-inch non-coated fry pan
- a 10-inch coated fry pan…whose coating was tattered, flaking and torn
So, I got to thinking about the care and feeding of non-stick pans and did some research on the Internets.
My my! People are passionate about Teflon. Seriously, very emotionally heated debates online. I found one woman who wrote an entire article about how the fumes emmitted from her teflon pans had killed her canaries. OK, if she says so.
Others cited sources from Wikipedia to NASA and research studies from Harvard to Stanford. There are usage guidelines, recommendations on what temperatures to cook at or below, how to store, how to recycle, which tools are OK to use on teflon pans, which are not, how to clean. There are literally thousands of blogposts, studies and articles with millions of tips, tirades and touts.
All that and still, I couldn’t really figure out if Teflon in and of itself kills canaries…
Here’s the Schtick on caring for Non-Stick.
- Throw out your coated teflon pans that have suffered scuffs and scrapes from years of abuse. We don’t really know if you (or your canaries) will DIE if you accidentally injest a flake or two of teflon. But, do you really want to find out?
More importantly, once the teflon coating is compromised, the non-stick aspect of the pan is ruined. RUINED, I say. So, pitch the pan for this reason alone.
- Do not use a metal spatula, but rather a rubber or silicone one – OK, I’ve used my fish spatula with a non-stick pan, but very very gently!
- Do not put coated pans under the broiler or on a stove top set higher than medium..especially if you own small birds or other tiny pets that might inhale air contaminated with teflon particles – this is cited as the danger in exposing teflon to extreme heat
- Do not put coated pans in the dishwasher…apparently, that too is bad bad bad for them
- Put some paper towel or cloth between your pans if you stack and store like I do…it will keep them from scraping AND from making that clanking noise when you put them away or take them out.
- Bear in mind that everything has a shelf life – sadly, even your pots and pans. So, evaluate the condition of the pots, pans, Santa Christmas lawn ornaments, giant salt and pepper shakers and whatever else you might have received as a gift from your first wedding. It may be time to toss these.
Toss and replace…but how?
Today I spent some time in Macy’s home section. It’s the preview to the preview of the 1-day sale that starts Friday and ends Sunday night. Plus, I had a 20% discount card and a $20 off card. AND, I went to the ‘closeouts’ room…a lovely woman told me about this secret and fabulous place.
Inside the secret ‘closeout’ room, I found a two-frying pan, 10″ and 12″, non-stick, oven safe set. As a thank you for last weekend and a pre-thanks for this coming weekend…I’ll be hand delivering these to my pan abusing pals tomorrow. And, to be sure that these shiny new non-stick pans don’t meet the same tragic abuse as their predecessors, I’m also bringing my hosts a silicone spatula and the schtick on caring for non-stick.