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Our home has always had its center around the kitchen. Cooking over a stove, arguing over a new recipe, or silently eating our dinners is how we spend time with each other. Every event we’ve hosted for friends and fam had people gathered around food and drink. Whether it’s croissants and coffee or dinner and wine, there was always Mike and I behind the stove whipping something up and listening to our guests carry on conversations. I prefer to watch them devour our hard work rather than partake with my personal anecdotes and opinions. My place isn’t at the center of the party, but rather, behind a pot, stirring something or other with a wooden spoon. A linen apron serves as my party outfit, and I am quite satisfied with that kind of life.
After five years of hosting every Friendsgiving event and celebratory milestone, it became decidedly noticeable that the pots and pans gifted to us on our wedding day were well-worn. All were Teflon pans advertised as non-stick but alas, everything eventually stuck thanks to my penchant for high heat. Their self-sacrifice did not go unnoticed.
The fry pan was the first to go. It didn’t even make it to year five. But it did do it’s time, patiently frying eggs and bacon, English muffins and grilled cheese. The wok was next, after a stir-fry gone wrong. Well, the stir-fry was fine but I let water simmer to remove the sticky sauce from the pan and one should never walk away from a stove with the flame on. Of course I forgot until the smell of smoke reached my nose while I sat on the bed, lost in a book.
Surprisingly, what still works is a Dutch oven bestowed unto me by my mum. It has been around for twenty-plus years, begging the question of degrading product quality control. We have a few other pans that, frankly, made it strictly because of their non-usefulness. A flat griddle I thought would make pancakes efficiently turned out to have just that singular purpose. A curved griddle that I thought would be useful for meats, burgers, and paninis was deemed non-essential. These things are biding their time. But the workhorses are long past their hay-day and needed some serious replacement.
As I belabored over options, I gathered a few requirements for our next cookware set. Over the past few years, I’ve developed an almost snobbish resistance to my Teflon pans. The reasoning behind it is hazy. Something about PTFE being carcinogenic and generally bad for our health. In fact, I’ve added a few cast irons to our kitchen arsenal (mostly for bread baking) since our wedding day in order to transition away from Teflon. However, the cast irons were too heavy for my taste. Close calls with sprained wrists made this particular dentist stray away from heavy options, despite being good alternatives.
I also required that the new cookware be minimalist. Classic pots and pans that would last the test of time are what I was after. I needed only a few essentials (forget the kitschy griddles and one-offs), and I needed them to store well. By now, we’ve honed in on how to manage a tiny space. We’ve also learned multiple techniques for preparing food, so that we didn’t require silly items such as ice-cream scoopers and garlic presses. No, the set I wanted would just be the mainstays of home cooking. After searching high and low, I finally found what I was hoping for in Caraway Home.
The Caraway Home Cookware Set is what we decided to embrace. It is free of PTFEs (like Teflon), PFOAs, and other PFAs such as lead, cadmium or other toxic metals. They also avoid hard anodization processes in its production. So what is it made of? It has an aluminum core coated in a non-stick ceramic with stainless steel handles and hardware. Meaning, it’s not as heavy as a rock. Yes the steel handles get hot, but I happily trade wearing oven mitts to lift the lids in exchange for ingesting carcinogenic metals any day.
In terms of quality, it stands the test. The pots and pans can withstand up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit in an oven. It is stovetop agnostic, compatible with induction, gas, and electric stoves. The bottom of the pans are metal, making me wish for one of those posh electric stoves popular in Scandinavian kitchen these days. Since we have metal grates, I have to make a mental note not to drag them across the surface. The pans heat up efficiently enough on low to medium heat. This time, I’ve made a promise to avoid high heat as they shorten the life span of any pan.
If you were wondering whether non-stick ceramic works well, I can attest that it does. Minimal oil and butter is needed, and the foods simply slide around the pans and pots! We’ve made a switch to using only wooden spoons and silicone tongs and spatulas. I have a fear that metal cooking utensils would scar the beautiful cooking surfaces. Plus they are so easy to clean. Mike and I are babying them, as we wash them with a soft sponge (no rough sponges or metal scrubbers please!) and dry them right away.
But the selling point that really got to my minimalist heart was the storage system that the cookware set comes with. It was the deciding factor, and honestly, the thing that most millennials would value the most. As more of us turn to tiny homes, apartment living, and nomadic van lives, the adage “less is more” has never been more appropriate. The entire cookware set stores well in half of a single shelf of my pantry. Magnetic pot holders stack them vertically as a beautiful canvas hangs on the pantry door storing the three lids. The storage system mimics Marie Kondo’s vertical folding of clothes, giving you easy access to whichever pot or pan you need. Visually, you can see all four at once. Gone are the days of shuffling through a stack of pans to get to the wok you need.
If you’re less of a home cook, but are planning to get married, move homes, upgrade your kitchen, or go off to college, I still think Caraway Home’s cookware set is worth taking a gander. In case you need very little, they have a minis duo set that 18-year-old-me could’ve made do with cooking for one. At the current discount price of buying a set, the cost of upgrading your cookware is quite affordable. And we really do love them.
Now I have my heart set on replacing our bakeware. If I said we cooked a lot, you should see my baking trays. They used to be silver, but now, coated in butter and grease and left in ovens a smidge too long, they are unrecognizably black. Copper-colored rust coat the edges of the rims. I just can’t bear to bake another batch of croissants on them. Caraway’s bakeware set has an aluminum core with stainless steel handles which I hope don’t rust. And the storage system is drool-worthy as mine are shoved haphazardly inside the pantry. There’s just no way to horizontally stack circles, rectangles and muffin tins, I swear!
The multiple color options speak to multiple styles, but I’ve got my eyes set on the navy for the bakeware set. I chose a cream color for the cookware and have some slight regrets on not being outgoing. However, I wanted the cookware to be timeless for both Mike and I. The bakeware set is mostly for me, leaving room to take a chance on color.