Call me really OLD-FASHIONED, besides OLD_CURMUDGEON, but while I understand that the question was about alternatives to unstable, lightweight aluminum compositon cookware, I couldn't help but to assert my opinion on this topic for two reasons..... the long-term durability of cast iron cookware, its temperature stability & its "inertness". I don't want to sound like a conspiratorialist, but I simply DON'T trust using some of these "wunder" chemicals in direct contact with food we ingest. That's one reason why our drinkware is MOSTLY glass, our dinnerware is mostly classical "china", etc. Having had a father who died @ age 59 of pancreatic cancer about 40 years ago, and who had no relevant exposure to toxins, it causes me to take pause at some of the incident environmental exposure we all face.
Brazing rod will stick to cast iron, IF the iron is cleaned, and that's a heck of a lot less expensive than the NASA-approved approach that you suggested. Try it. But, the crack / gap should probably be washed first with a decent concentration of acid to rid the crack of all impurities (organic solids), even though they no doubt burn off in the process of heating the iron to a cherry-red temp. Once at that temp, the brass rod should flow well. I'd use some HANDY & HARMON brazing flux on the iron also.
Just a suggestion...... Although I've never brazed an iron frying pan, I have brazed other cast iron parts which broke, and this method of repair has worked for these items, so, I'd give it a try. Don't have too much to lose!!
Of course you are right about cast iron, but the suggestions were for alternatives to replacement of the existing pans.
I did have a cast iron fry pan crack in the center with a very loud report, while I was cooking with it. The three-point carck has not opened or leaked, and so I keep using the pan. I don't believe that any bacteria can live very long in the frying temperatures that I use, so I don't have a problem with that. I did discover that nobody has a reasonable means to repair cracked cast iron. The best suggestion was to use electron beam welding in a vacuum to effect the repair. The cost would be several times the cost to replace it with a very high quality cast iron pan, even the 16 inch size. So it does not get repaired or replaced.
All of these suggestions are OK, but the BEST cooking/frying pan is still cast iron, since in all sizes available, they're very stable on any cooktop surface, whether electric, gas, or solid top. The SECRET to a good iron pan's use is to first "pickle" the pan. It needs to have some suet or animal fat rendered in it under heat to develop a coating which is neither environmentally OR physiologically detrimental.
We have some iron cookware that dates back to the turn of the LAST century (1900s), and it's still performing very well.
Best place to scout down these antiques is at old country fairs, flea markets, etc. They're usually represented by the bushel-fulls......
p.s. By making extremely smooth-surfaced ceramic coatings, they leave no micro-crevices for food particles to become attached, and since ceramic coatings can withstand high heats and a decent amount of scratch resistance, they also make an excellent cooking surface, WITHOUT any chemical negative side-effects.
Crisco is not only fattening--it's trans-fat, much unhealthier than saturated fat. And I never buy cookware at mass merchandisers or grocery stores--it's all junk. The difference between the way that junk performs and the way really good cookware performs is night and day. For instance, the first time I baked cookies on a $25 high-quality steel-aluminum cookie sheet from Williams-Sonoma, I finally saw cookies that look like the ones at a bakery. The best cookware (without a chef's name attached) can be found from Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table, and like catalogs/websites. Hence my surprise when a Calphalon pan misbehaved with an overly-heavy handle. These days I buy mostly Le Creuset (ceramic-coated cast iron), All-Clad stainless steel, and Lodge cast iron, which now comes pre-seasoned.
How is the Ceramic Non-Stick cookware? I hear lots of supposed health concerns about using a traditional teflon non-stick pan once it gets messed up, and my favorite pan is almost to the point of being bad.
Any recommendations for a good Ceramic Non-Stick pan?
Two solutions are clear, and one that is not: We now have a gas stove that has eight support bars above each burner. They consist of looped rods bent into rounded angles so that the support is better than the simpler versions. That is one choice, but be prepared to get a stove costing a b9it more in order to get them. Now for drilling the holes in the handle, there would need to be quite a few holes in order to provide a worthwhile mass reduction, and they would need to be toward the outer end of the handle to be the most effective. The problem would be in making them nice to look at and in getting rid of the burrs produced while drilling. In addition they would not have the plating that the handle might have. But a good job of drilling is a potential solution, if one is able to do a decent job of it. Another solution would be to braze-weld an additional plate onto the bottom surface of the pan to change the weight distribution, or to just add a ballast ring around the perimeter of the pan, which would be very unusual, but quite effective. One additional method of stablizing the pan, which would not require changing the pan at all, would be to make an external rest for the handle in the form of a cylindrical ring an inch or more larher in diameter than the pan, with a height to support the handle away from the pan. The advantage is that it would enhance the heating effect of the flame, the disadvantage is that it would be quite hot to handle and it would be in the way of putting any other handle on that burner.
So there you have a number of suggestions for solving the problem, none easy or simple, but they all would work.
I also love my cast iron pan, but i never use that Crisco stuff because it is quite fattening. Either canola oil or olive oil are far healthier to use. PLus they smell better and smoke less. So that can help with the crisco problem.
Tefal ? (thats short for teflon-aluminium). Haven't you all switched over to ceramic surface cookware? If not, give it a try - you'll be pleasantly surprised. Tefal is leaning on celebrity endorsements because teflon is rapidly losing its' market share.
We have the SAME problem w/ an 8" frying pan w/ "non-stick" surface treatment. It's an aluminum pan, and sits obliquely on the Calrod (electric stove), UNLESS it's filled w/ foodstuff. (Purchased at WAL*MART)
Alternatively, there's NOTHING like the good, old-fashioned cast iron open cookware. Have several sizes from small frying pan to the comics-book sizes. Some are older than the hills, but still in good shape. Unfortunately, their non-stick surface has always been a goodly amount of CRISCO.... not necessarily beneficial for the human plumbing system!!!!!
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