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Comments on Sunday 6 February 2005:
Today I went hunting for a decent frying pan or wok, our old one having become completely useless due to shedding Teflon into our food over the last few months. Based on a small amount of research, I had decided I didn't want pans involving Teflon, since apparently Teflon gives off poisonous gases sufficient to kill birds, at high temperatures (not far above the smoke-point of grapeseed oil, and apparently temperatures often reached in cooking bacon). Also apparently professional chefs don't like non-stick coatings because they don't brown foods properly (and certainly I don't like them for that reason).

So, I went to a specialist cooking supplies shop, after staying awake for several hours until they opened because it was Sunday again like it always is when I want to buy things, and asked them about pans without non-stick coatings. The shop had two such pans, both cast iron, and both of a stupid useless shape - one extremely shallow wok, and one extremely shallow frying pan with low-angled edges for maximum spilling. And both insanely expensive - the Internet tells me that cast iron cookware is cheap, but the shop tells me that (after a 33% discount!) it's $250 for a completely useless wok.

Presumably the logic of cookware sales goes something like this - on the one hand, we can offer Teflon, which can't be used at high temperatures, will fall apart in about six months, gives off poisonous gases, and won't actually cook your food properly, and on the other hand OH WHAT THE HECK WHO NEEDS ANOTHER HAND, NOBODY WOULD WANT ANYTHING DIFFERENT FROM THAT!

I didn't buy anything, obviously, and came home and asked the internet for cookware instead. I found some delightful cookware via Yahoo's Australia and New Zealand directory - some of the delightful cookware was in New York, which has 'New' in the name so it must be part of New Zealand, and the other good site was in Texas, which is obviously part of Australia for a very good reason. Eventually I found a cast iron wok and a stainless steel skillet at reasonable prices that were in the real Australia, not the crazy Yahoo Australia. Fuck you Yahoo, I'm not putting your stupid exclamation-mark on that's part of your stupid name until you get your countries straight. [10:32]

der vaalrus
Ack. Given that just about any food/oil product will emit potentially noxious or toxic fume well before approaching the critical themal temperatures require to degrade teflon products (Teflon max use temp. limits: 550-600F, 288-316C for intermitant, 500F,260C continuous, dependint on teflon product).

I'll grant that grapeseed oil and it's near cousins have smoke points in the 480F range, but are those realistic cooking temperatures?

I make no claims for the physical durability or desireablility of teflon coatings in cookware. I do have a nice wok that has survived some 10 years of reasonably active use, but I have had other pieces that have become useless in months.

RavenBlack
Just above the smoke point of grapeseed oil may not be a realistic cooking temperature, but it's a realistic temperature for parts of the pan to reach while you are shallow-frying using grapeseed oil - sure, you're not *cooking* over there where the oil has rolled to the other side of the pan, but the pan is still getting hotter, and with no oil to carry the heat away.

I'm not really so much bothered by the poison thing, anyway, that's more of a side-annoyance. It's more the fact that making fried rice takes about three times as long in this teflon pan as it used to in whatever I was using before, and even after that long it's still not as well cooked, and not as nice. I'd be fine with poisonous gases if it got good results.

RavenBlack
When I say 'takes' about three times as long, there, I mean 'took', of course, before the pan became completely unusable after the Teflon had all fallen to pieces. Now it can become nice and crispy really fast, but unfortunately that's nice, crispy, and stuck fast to whatever metal it is that the hole in the teflon exposes.

~*Wite Fox*~
heh teflon falling off, Yahoo getting their countries wrong and so on...i find that abit funny....amazing nothing changes here on the blog i've been gone for several months(i did not count sadly^^) and so far nothings changed i did read one thing about bush dieing if bushed died i think yahoo would be able to get there countries straight and teflon will no longer fall apart into your food by the way i live in texas....amazing not alot of people meet others who actually live in texas so far everyone i hear from are out of the country or in some other state.....i feel alone now =( oh well Ciao.
-Much love to those out there,
White Fox

der vaalrus
Is grapeseed oil a choice for its high heat tolerances, or its nutritional characteristics? I'm a canola/butter/peanut oil man myself. How does the thermal transfer quotient of GSO compare to other oils?

RavenBlack
I like grapeseed for both heat tolerance and nutritional characteristics, really - the greater heat means cooking can be quicker, and nutritionally it's quite high in what are supposed to be friendly fats. Peanut is quite good too, but I don't think much of canola (unfortunately, since it does have the price advantage).

der vaalrus
Me too, especially as I live in the heart of Canola Country. :) I'm of mixed minds on high-heat. I tend to "batch" (as in mode, not contraction of another word) cook things, and wander through a number of other kitchen tasks while waitng for operations to come to a choreographed conclusions.

RavenBlack
I do that as well, but it's nice to have the option of faster frying, when the frying is the slowest component, which is especially the case with chips. Or 'fries' as those crazy Americans like to say.

RavenBlack
(Also, faster frying tends to make things nicer.)

Digi
Is it the case that Americans wouldn't know what you meant by 'chips'? I thought it was that they understood, but just used their own instead.

RavenBlack
They'll often think you mean crisps.

Mrdillo
Ah yes, we Americans are weird...but isn't the whole human race?!?

Mrdillo
Wait, is Yahoo(!) an American company thingy?

Mrdillo
Couldn't be if they say Texas is in Australia, they might be autistic though? I think I'll stick with my failing geography theory...

der vaalrus
Ahhhh, you see, chips go into the oven, to be smothered in vinegar and cheese near the end of the baking process.

~*white fox*~
..........ok the thought of food is making me hungry I may be American but i know my bloody geography and i know what "chips" are thank you!...fries, chips, and as my friend calls them "french sticks that the french did not invent!" meaning french fries.....eanut oil is good to cook with...but grapeseed i also would prefer to canola!.....may the cooking begin!*vanishes to go find food for the talk of food has made me hungry*.*leaves a rose for them all*

Anet
Yahoo is American and there is a Texas Australia (Queensland). I favor cast aluminum pans...

RavenBlack
The Texas in question wasn't the Australian one - it had a US zipcode. Aluminium is questionably linked to Alzheimers.

Anet
So I hear... I intend to die of radon- induced cancer... More oportunity.

~*white fox*~
YAAY oportunity!....and i do learn something new everyday......Texas Australia.....hmmmm.....a use zipcode wow thats a big shipping and handling bil.......ciao

Sue Russell
Pleased that you found your cast iron wok in OZ. I have just brought one back all the way from San Fran as wasnt sure I could get one here
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