I've had the same problem with a pan, but it wasn't T-fal, it was just something generic and cheap I bought. But the same thing happened on a four-hob stove because the handle was a bit too big; it was very unstable and sometimes fell over at the most inopportune time! You would think something with Jamie Oliver's name on it would be a bit better well designed!
What's happening here is that the manufacturer is using the celebrity's name to sell the product, but not to the celebrity. Jus like the Beats audio headphones from Dr Dre, his name may be on the product, but you will find him wearing Bose headphones in the studio.
Many years ago I got a set of what I thought was fairly good cookware. They have lasted about 15 years so far but that little 5" pan just would never stay flat on the stove. I'd always put the handle of something else under the end of its handle.
One day when cooking, a friend arrived and started laughing at my balancing act when I moved the pan and the pancake turner I was using a prop hit the floor. They stated "Put a key ring on it."
After cleaning up from dinner I found a small flashlight with a ring on the end and put the ring thru the loop on the end of the pan handle and to my suprise it actually supported the pan. Now the flashlight is not very washable but it worked.
About a week later I was talking to a woodworking buddy and showed him what I was doing and he got a chunk of hard wood dowel and put a screw eye in the end. We measured it for my stove and made it tall enough to put a key ring loop thru the screw eye and the end of the pan and support the pan.
About a week later he dropped by with a couple very nice pot stands that were all sanded, decorated and sealed. They work great, I keep it on the pan and it just dangles no matter what I am doing, cooking, pouring or washing. When you put the pan on the stove, most of the time it just aligns and rests on it, sometimes it is at an angle and I have to move it vertical.
I think I use the pan a lot more than before because I just don't have that issue. No welding, drilling or just about anything else, I just use the pan. The only thing I would change is change the screw eye and ring and make the screw eye connect directly to the pan. The problem with that is it makes it harder to remove from the pan and I have 4 different ones with different decorations on them and at Christmas I put the Christmas one on, in spring time etc.
If someone decides to make their first million selling these, please send me a few for the idea.
Tim, these are all good fixes to remedy a design flaw in your pan, but I still think those designing the pan in the first place should've forseen such a problem and fixed it before it was sold. But maybe that's just me! Although you probably could make some good money selling these stands, since it seems like a lot of us have experienced the same problem.
I have a similar problem with our pans at home. The just balance on one edge and want to spin around at the slightest touch.
If you do not want to modify the handle, create a stainless steel counterweight that will hang on the oposite edge of the pan. Don't know why I didn't think of that until now. Thanks for the postings to stimulate the idea.
This reminds me of a problem I've got with two expensive Calphalon pans: an overly long, heavy handle makes these wide-diameter items--a griddle and a grill pan --not lie flat on the electric burner of my stove. I avoid celebrity chef cookware, and before it existed have opted for the stuff chefs supposedly use themselves, like Calphalon. But with the rise of the celebrity chefs, I've noticed a decline in the quality of good cookware. While the griddle and grill pan have superb cooking surfaces and are well made, it's the dumb design decision that makes them hard to use. I'm very sad to see that monkeys have invaded cookware design, as well as practically everything else.
Yes, Ann, the proliferation of monkeys is discouraging. They're showing their cute little faces in seemingly all industries. Yet cookware design seems so basic --not that many places to go wrong. How could they miss something this simple.
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!!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!!
The cracks are reported to be three radial cracks originating near the center. If you heat the pan in order to braze it, they will continue to "run" or extend. Before attempting to braze the pan you must drill a "stop" hole to relieve the stress--a 1/16"" hole clear through the pan. This is true for welding any unterminated crack in cast iron, engine blocks for example.
I've had good luck steel-welding cast iron using a 1/16" regular (4019 ?) rod or stainless rod and low (e.g., 70 amps) current, but your mileage may vary.
Thanks for the advice on the "stop" holes, I had not considered that. My other problem is that I only own gas welding equipment, so any patching that I did would probably be a braze metal patch. The bad part would be getting it smooth after the patch was in place. At that point the work involved does point a bit more toward a new pan. OR I can keep using this one until it either leaks or falls apart.
About drilling bakelite, the process is much different from drilling steel. First the work must be clamped so that it can't climb the drill, then you use a drill press with low speed, a sharp drill bit, and very gentle feed pressure. Forcing the drill in hard will indeed cause massive breaking. The drilling must be done gently. It is not as bad as drilling glass or ceramics, but it does take a gentle touch. I know that many folks ram the drill through everything, but that is just not how to do it with bakelite.
Actually if you really want great cast iron cookware you need to look at the antiques instead of the newer Lodge. The newer Lodge stuff is ok and at least still made in the USA, but frankly it's far inferior to the "good stuff" made by long gone companies such as Griswold, Wagner, Wapak, etc. The best cast iron was made before 1960 and the older the better.
Classic cast iron had a much smoother, glassy cooking surface due to their use of "jeweler's sand" and was actually much lighter than today's heavy weights. You'd think the lighter weight wouldn't heat as evenly or hold heat as well but apparently they used much better quality iron back in those days (esp from the Sidney and Erie, Ohio area) and were able to make them thinner and still cook well. Also, the quality of the casting is better (especially on items from the 1930's and 40's) with much less casting flash and machined edges.
If your cast iron doesn't have a country of origin, it's likely the better stuff from pre-1960 as that's about when country of origin started to be put on merchandise. If you like cooking on your newer cast iron you'll love the antique stuff. Do an internet search on "vintage cast iron" for more info and images. Hit the garage/estate sales, antique stores and flea markets (or bite the bullet and pay more on eBay) and get some old Griswold and/or Wagner and you'll see what I mean.
Thanks, thrashercharged, I've been told that before about old cast iron. My pans are from the 70s, but I bet they'll still last longer than what's out today. I mentioned Lodge because they're the last manufacturer left standing of any worth, at least in the US. There's also some pricey Japanese cast iron becoming more available, such as this: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/komin-fry-pan/?pkey=cfry-saute-pans My guess is this is better stuff than Lodge.
Ann - if your pans are from the '70s they should be finished (or cast) fairly smooth and cook just as well as the old Griswolds and Wagners but they'll be heavier. I know - our daily use workhorse cast iron is no-brand 70's vintage also. Back in those days you could go into any hardware store and get no-brand made in USA cast iron cookware that functioned very well but wasn't quite up to the old Griswold/Wagner standard.
I reserve the Griswolds/Wagners I've found for "special" use. My wife has the habit of putting the washed cast iron on the burner for a few minutes to dry and she turns the heat on high (electric stove) as it takes a few mins to heat and she's occasionally forgets and leaves them on too long and has almost ruined them (they'll warp) so I don't take chances with the true classics.
The newer stuff, even from Lodge, has a "pebblely" rough finish that doesn't cook or is non-stick as well as the smooth finished older ones. I reserve those and any throw-away imported ones for my Boy Scout troop use and let the boys learn on them! I'm happy to support Lodge and buy their stuff as they're the last ones in the US but I do wish their stuff was more comparable to the classics.
And yes, there are some Japanese cast iron works that have apparently been around for centuries that produce argueably the finest cookware (some say better than Griswold/Wagner) and they're extremely pricey, I've heard into the hundreds of dollars.
As far as having food stick while using cast iron, if you heat it too high you'll burn the seasoning off. Sounds like that fella's mother-in-law was doing that, or it was really poor quality cast (too pebblely).
thrashercharged, thanks for that info. The pans are very smooth and pretty darn heavy. And yes, I got them in a hardware store. Ah, those were the days! When you could actually get good cookware and housewares at hardware stores. In the rural area where I live, this is still possible sometimes. Thanks also for the warning about the surface on the newer Lodge pans, and the plus vote on the Japanese stuff--I'm thinking about trying out one or two of those. The ones at the link I gave are not hundreds of dollars, and Williams-Sonoma has already vetted them for me, so I've got high hopes.
Jim, Teflon-coated cookware is poisonous. I banished it from my kitchen years ago. There are many good brands available of ceramic-coated iron, if that's what you mean by ceramic non-stick: Le Creuset, for example. I don't know if the chemistry of ceramic non-stick coated aluminum or steel has been vetted yet.
Ann, I was not aware that teflon by itself was at all toxic, except that as it burns there are quite a few toxic flourine compounds produced. So I am wondering just where that information about teflon being poisonous came from and more imprtantly just exactly what they are talking about. I have seen too many wild-eyed maniacs sreaming about how almost everything is bad for us to be willing to accept any claim that does not have a rational explanation. So I am genuinely interested in exactly what somebody is talking about when they call Teflon poisonous.
ON the other hand, it is very clear that teflon coated bullets are indeed a very serious source of damage, and one should certainly avoid them as much as one can. ( I just could not resist tossing that one in.)
William, for health news, I generally depend on Consumer Reports and Science News, neither of which are wild-eyed maniacs. I'd certainly call the production of toxic flourine compounds "poisonous." I read some years ago about PFOA emissions from pans with typical non-stick surfaces, such as Teflon, at high heat. Since then, several brands of "green" non-stick pans came out. Here's a 2009 update from Consumer Reports on the subject: http://news.consumerreports.org/home/2009/09/best-nonstick-cookware-pfoa-health-risks-swiss-diamond-reinforced-cookware-earth-pan-with-sand-flow.html
My grandfather was the first person I ever heard question whether or not non-stick cookware was unhealthy... He walked through my Mom's kitchen while she was cooking dinner when I was around 6 or 7 years old and announced that he would not be eating dinner, since she was cooking on "that new-fangled crap... That can't be good for you, and when they come out with a study in 10 years that says that crap will give you cancer, I'll be sure and write you a letter asking if you wouldn't rather listen to the old man now..."
Of course, he died of cancer a couple of years after that... Everyone else, even the smokers all outlived him by many, many years... Most are still alive, including my now 75 year old mother... who smokes...
Virtually all if not all plastics are pretty harmless in their solid form... If eating plastic toys was bad for you my first dog should have never lived to be 16 years old... He ate literally hundreds of small toys... :-O
The ceramic coated cast iron cookware is my personal favorite... Plus, La Creuset comes in some pretty cool colors! The thing I like best is how tough and durable that coating is... The teflon stuff I thought was garbage becuase when it was a few years old, it looked like garbage! All scratched up and nasty looking... And if I was the type who worried about bacteria, that scratched up coating looks like an ideal breeding ground for bacteria...
I, of course, never worry about bacteria, I don't worry about touching hand rails on the escalator, or pushing the buttons for the elevator... Heck, when my wife's not at home I sometimes will come home and discover that I left last nights dinner on the stove, and I just reheat it and eat it... When I go to make a panini and the cheese has green stuff growing on it, I just cut the green stuff off and use the cheese...
I think that this is why I have never had food poisioning in my life... I've been in Mexico with 11 other people that all got sick, and I have never experienced food poisioning... A little bacteria is only bad if your body has never been exposed before... :-)
And teflon only produces toxic flourine compounds when it burns, really... Maybe trace amounts when new, but to really get anything toxic to come off it needs to be on fire...
Growing up, we always used to throw our styrofoam cups in the camp fire... And we had an incinerator in our back yard, and we burned all our plastic garbage along with the paper... We know that's not good for you now, but back then, we had no idea... (Except for my grandpa, that is... But he was dead)
I clicked on your link to Consumer Reports, which stated that under normal use, the emissions from Teflon non-stick pans were very low indeed. If the pan is severely overheated then you have a problem, but then again most things when overheated give off noxious fumes. There isn't a substance known to man that isn't toxic at some concentration. This even applies to water which, if drunk to excess will dilute your electrolytes, followed by disorientation, shock and death. This was proven about a year ago when someone had the idea of having a water drinking competition at a fair as it seemed less disgusting than the traditional pie or hot dog eating contest. To everyone's shock the winner died on the spot and many of the contestants ended up in hospital.
Just remember, any new device is always introduced as safe. Time reveals its undesireable side effects which will be vehemently denied by the manufacturer.
OK, Ann, I see that if I overheat a teflon pan then the emissions will be toxic, which is just what I said in my previous comment. My thing is that the teflon does not stand up to the mechanical abuse that I give my cast iron pan while doing stir-fry cooking. Mechanical failure of the coating is a separate issue , and the flakes of teflon are simply not very appetising. So I use my iron pan for that reason.
Of course I am very skeptical of anybody who comes across as trying to create an atmosphere of ambient fear and panic. So my first inclination is to not trust them at all until I examine their credentials, as it were. What I find is an amazing number of people who have no qualifications except being fairly persuasive writers. They have no science background and no educational qualifications, but they want to warn me about some previously unknown hazard that is going to kill me if I don't listen to them. So just like a jury I look at the evidence and consider the source before believing them .
One other thing is that it seems that a whole lot of advice has been passed by a lawyer to see if there is any way that a person who gets it wrong could have any even slight chance at winning a lawsuit if they got hurt doing something dumb. So much of the published advice that we see is so very "safe" that it is totoally worthless. I am sure that you hve seen this also.
I also prefer cast iron to modern "non-stick"--it's the original non-stick surface. But many people don't know how to use these pans without breaking them, usually by heating them up too fast and/or too high.
Interesting point, Ann, about the too rapid heating, although I have not done that. But I recall that my old mother-in-law complained that she did not like them because they always rusted. If one does not pay attention to what is cooking in a cast iron pan it is possible to burn things badly enough for them to stick, which she did quite a bit. But under those same conditions a teflon anti-stick pan would produce toxic smoke, and be ruined, usually. She was one of very few who did get things to stick to an anti-stick pan.
Having grown up in the "country", all my family (aunts, cousins, etc.) used nothing but cast iron fry pans, from the 6" size to the 16" size. And, they all cooked on gas stoves, open fires, etc. And, one thing I can tell you is that these pans were NEVER washed in soap & water w/ the other cookware. All the women would do is to drain the remains out... usually went into the dogs' dishes, and then wipe them clean with a clean rag, and hang them on the hooks over the stoves. We still have my grandmother's cast iron fry pans, and since she was married in 1904, that makes them over 100 years old! Not a crack to be found anywhere. And, they'rejust as "non-stick" as the best teflon/aluminum pan to be bought today. There's nothing better tasting that bacon & eggs in a cast iron pan, or home fries potatoes. Can't wait until Sunday morning... my mouth is watering just thinkin' 'bout it..........
William, I've known several people who apparently didn't understand how to use different types of cookware without burning the food or poisoning themselves. I don't understand what the problem is, but I did have to teach my nephew not to start cooking with the heat on high, while he was staying with us. I simply told him my pans cost a few hundred $$ each and it would be on him to replace them if he damaged them. That, plus a basic 101 lesson in cookware use, seemed to do the job.
Ann, I understand about that, and it just seems amazing that so many such continue to live to get older, but never any smarter. Perhaps it would benefit all of society if there was some instruction about the fundamental concepts of kinematics and thermal transfers provided to kids in the third grade. They would not need to learn the math, but just understand the relationships. Of course I realize that goes completely against the concept of dumbing down that is currently so prevalent just about everywhere. I don't think that I have the answer for that, I am not even sure that there exists an answer. ( wow, that sounds really gloomy, doesn't it?)
William, I do appreciate your sense of humor. I don't think third-graders need to be taught physics so much as I think that they should be taught how to a) cook real food and b) use cookware. I was, back in the ancient days, when it was called Home Economics. There were lots of reasons why girls learning cooking and sewing and boys learning shop was a bad idea--but instead of opening both up to both, they took it all away.
Ann, the fundamentals of such things as inertia, leverage, weight, and stiffness of materials should be well within the grasp of a third grader. While the math associated with inertia and stored energy is sort of complex, the concept that something heavy moving will take some larger effort to halt is not that hard. Likewise the relationship between weight and the effort needed to lift it. These are the very basic concepts, which in the past year I have met adults who did not even grasp them.
I am not talking about making engineers out of third graders, just giving them a few more survival tools, that I see missing from quite a few people.
William, thanks for the clarification (although I still think your previous comment was funny). I heartily agree that more basic skills, survival tools and basic understanding about how the physical world works are sometimes missing and, if more common, would help avoid a lot of accidents.
Ann, it is certainly true that insight is a far better way to stay safe than simply memorizing some safety "script" that claims to always keep one safe, although it does not touch most exceptions. Itappears to me that those scripts are all written by lawyers intent on assuring that no instruction could be to do anything that if done incorrectly could cause a problem.
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.
Lots of pans have handles constructed from a metal core and bakelite overlay, so you don't need to use a pot holder. Did you ever try to drill bakelite? It will shatter and destroy the handle. Drilling holes is not the solution.
I have a skillet from one of those Sale-A-Day outfits (not *oot) on which the bakelite handle spontaneously broke. It shattered worse during the repair attempt and is now in queue to be refitted with a generic repalcement bakelite handle from Ace Hardware.
If the handle of your pot is too heavy, then the engineering solution is to reduce the handle's weight. A small pot hardly needs a humungous handle. You could simply cut its length or if it's solid its thickness.
Just saw this blog, and couldn't help posting this comment. Aside for retiring the offending designer pan to security detail (read - using it as a self-defence device against intruding burglars), attaching a simple counterweight should solve the issue with the pan tipping over when filled below capacity. Remember the slotted bronze weights used in merchandise weigh-platforms? Just slide one of the appropriate weight on the lip of the pan diametrically opposite the handle. No drilling, no welding, no new purchases. Problem solved.
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