The material you choose for your cookware can make a very big difference. Every material conducts heat differently. The rate at which a material conducts heat not only determines how long it will take to cook your food, but also how the food will actually taste. Our current selection of cookware offers you options such as the basic stainless steel cookware alternatives that are great for the budget, to more premium materials such as aluminum and copper cookware. These premium materials will not only enrich the flavor of your food and save you time preparing your meals, but they're also a stylish and elegant addition to your kitchen decor!
Aluminum : Aluminum is the best heat conductor next to copper. It is widely used in cookware because of its advantages of great conductivity, lower cost and great strength. Aluminum is a lightweight metal with very good thermal conductance and resistance to rust and many forms of corrosion. It can, however, react with some acidic foods, changing the taste. Sauces containing egg yolks or some vegetables may cause oxidation of non-anodized aluminum cookware. Aluminum is generally used as a core heat conductor and is covered with a stainless steel or an anodized coating to protect the food.
Cast Iron Cookware : The major advantage of cast iron is its capability to retain and evenly distribute heat. This cookware material is excellent for browning, frying and baking various foods. Another beauty of cast iron cookware is it can be used on top of the stove and in the oven. Similar to other cookware materials, cast iron also reacts with foods and can absorb the flavors of what was cooked in it unless the cookware is seasoned. Usually raw cast iron pans are seasoned before they are first used. Another type of cast iron is enameled cast iron cookware. Enameled cast iron has a hard porcelain enamel coating that provides a permanent finish to prevent the cast iron from reacting with food. It also comes in many colors and doesn't require seasoning.
Ceramic : Glazed ceramics, such as porcelain, provide a nonstick cooking surface. Unglazed ceramics, such as terra cotta, have a porous surface that can hold water or other liquids during the cooking process, adding moisture in the form of steam to the food. Particular care must be taken when cooking in unglazed ceramic cookware to ensure that the clay does not contain lead. Used as stovetop cookware or bake ware, these surfaces are fairly resistant to sticking from food. Their operable temperature range may not be as high as metals and their heating properties vary. Ceramic cookware can be relatively inexpensive and is very easy to maintain. They are generally neutral and do not react to foods in a way that might alter the flavor. They may, however, be prone to breakage. Most ceramic cookware can be used in both regular and microwave ovens. This offers greater flexibility as metal pans should not be used in a microwave oven.
Copper : Copper is the best conductor of heat, especially for top-of-range cooking where the food must be cooked at precisely controlled temperatures. Copper cookware has about ten times the heat conductivity of stainless steel and glass and twice that of aluminum. It transmits heat evenly with great response, this makes it best for such high-heat, fast-cooking techniques such as sauteing and frying. Copper cookware, however, tends to react with foods. To prevent this most copper pans are lined with tin or stainless steel. A majority of copper pans today are lined with stainless steel rather than tin because it will last much longer. Copper cookware should not be placed in the dishwasher nor left to air dry as this causes spotting and they will have to be polished more frequently.
Glass : Used as stovetop cookware or bake ware, glass surfaces are fairly resistant to sticking from food. Their operable temperature range may not be as high as metals and their heating properties vary but they can be relatively inexpensive and very easy to maintain. They are neutral and do not react to foods in a way that might alter the flavor. They may, however, be prone to breakage. Most glass cookware can be used in both regular and microwave ovens offering greater flexibility to the cooker. Some are even made to be used for stovetops but care must be taken to prevent them from directly coming in contact with electric elements or with excessive heat by using a metal trivet or diffuser. Glass may conduct heat well but it does not distribute evenly. The advantages are that it works well for most oven cooking, it does not react with acidic foods, all foods can be safely stored in it and there are no adverse health effects from cooking in it.
Hard Anodized Aluminum : Anodizing is one of the oldest and most reliable ways of protecting aluminum. It is anodized for corrosion resistance, abrasion resistance, and stick-resistance and esthetic reasons. This special coating has been added to the aluminum to help make it reduce the effects that regular aluminum cookware might have on certain foods. It is a good choice of material for most any type of cooking. Pots and pans made from anodized aluminum are not dishwasher safe and can be dark in color making it hard to see slight color changes in the food being cooked. Also, when washing by hand, it's generally advised not to use corrosive detergents or scrubbing tools as that will likely damage the anodized finish. Anodized aluminum has had the naturally occurring layer of aluminum oxide thickened by an electrolytic process to create a surface that is hard and non-reactive. It is used for saute pans, stockpots, roasters, and Dutch ovens.
Non Stick : The advantages of nonstick cookware include ease of cleaning and when cooking the food requires less fat. These surfaces are excellent for frying or grilling foods. Modern metal cookware is frequently coated with a nonstick substance in order to reduce the possibility of food sticking to the pan surface. Nonstick pans should not be used at high temperatures though. The result is less food being burnt. In order to preserve the nonstick coating on a pan, it is important to never use metal implements in the pan while cooking nor use harsh scouring pads or chemical abrasives when cleaning. The fundamental thing to realize is that these nonstick surfaces are coatings. They have little influence over the cooking efficiency of the material. While these surfaces are very durable, they are subject to wear and tear.
Stainless Steel : Stainless steel cookware is easy to care for, exceptionally durable and light, it won't corrode or tarnish and its nonporous surface is resistant to wear. It also doesn't react with either alkaline or acidic foods. The drawbacks to stainless steel are that it is a poor conductor of heat and does not distribute heat evenly. Quality stainless steel cookware will usually have heavy bottoms with a core of copper or aluminum sandwiched between layers of steel. Stainless steel is an iron alloy containing a minimum of 11.5% chromium. Blends containing 18% chromium with either 8% nickel, called 18/8, or with 10% nickel, called 18/10, are commonly used for kitchen equipment. Stainless steel cookware is very popular because of its moderate price and its versatility.
A Guide to Making Shoes Last Longer Are you tired of buying new shoes frequently because your old shoes keep falling apart? With a little effort and some proper care you can extend the life of your shoes and save yourself money. Dress shoes can be expensive and without proper care they may not look good for very long. It is possible to keep your shoes looking good for a long time if you just follow some simple steps.
1. Buy a good pair of cedar shoe trees. Shoe trees are form fitting inserts that go inside your shoes when you are not wearing them. They maintain the shape of the shoe which will eliminate creases from forming in the leather. Preventing creases will keep the leather looking good and keep it from cracking or developing a hole. Shoe trees will also help keep the soles flat so the sole will wear more evenly. Shoe trees are made in both plastic and cedar. The cedar shoe trees are better because the wood absorbs moisture and perspiration from the inside of your shoe. After a long day of wearing your shoes, the inside of your shoes can become damp. This moisture, if left inside the shoe, will eventually eat away at the lining of your shoes and cause them to smell. Cedar shoe trees will absorb this moisture, keeping the lining dry and your shoes smelling fresh. It is important to insert shoe trees into your shoes anytime you are not wearing them, but especially after you have just worn them.
2. Buy a good horsehair shoe brush. A shoe brush will help to brush off dust, dirt, and debris that has found its way onto your shoes. Horsehair is the best material to get because it is durable yet gentle, so it will effectively brush your shoes without scratching the leather. If you buy a lesser quality shoe brush, the bristles may be too coarse and it could scratch your shoes and ruin the leather. Lightly brushing your shoes with a side to side motion will help keep your shoes dirt free.
3. Buy good shoe polish and shine your shoes regularly. It is important to buy a good shoe polish that is right for your pair of shoes. Since all shoes are different and there are different forms of leather, it is a good idea to ask the salesperson what shoe polish is best at the time you purchase your shoes. You may not think there is a big difference between shoe polishes, but some shoe polishes can actually harm your shoes. A leather creme polish that matches your shoe color will generally help keep the leather properly conditioned so it does not dry out. Some less expensive products that advertise a "quick shine" actually do more harm than good. They may give your shoes a quick shine, but the alcohol and other chemicals will eventually dry out the leather prematurely. Again, it is important to check with your salesperson to see which product is right for your particular pair of shoes. A good process is to wipe your shoes with a clean cotton cloth, apply and rub in some polish, and then shine with the horsehair shoe brush.
4. Treat suede and nubuck differently than regular leather shoes. You do not want to use polish or leather creme on suede shoes. Using these products will ruin the material by matting it down. Generally, simply brushing these shoes gently should keep them dirt free. It is important to get a special suede brush and to be very gentle because the material is more delicate than leather. You can also spray them with a water proofing spray to keep them from getting ruined in the rain. Suede shoes are more difficult to care for than regular leather shoes, so check with your shoe salesman to make sure you get the right products for it.
5. Keep leather and suede shoes dry. Wearing your shoes in the rain or in the snow will ruin the material. If you live in a city or a climate where it frequently rains or snows, it may be a good idea to purchase a pair of rubber galoshes to slip over your shoes. They are easy to put on, by simply stretching them over your shoes, and will help make your shoes last longer. If your shoes do get wet, it is a good idea to dry them as soon as possible by wiping the surface with a soft, dry, cotton cloth.
6. If you take proper care of your shoes, the soles should wear out before the leather uppers do. If this happens, you may not need to replace the shoes. If the leather uppers still look good, it may be worth it to have your shoes resoled. By replacing the soles on your shoes, you may extend the life of your shoes by another two to three years. It all depends on the condition of the leather upper and the cost of resoling versus purchasing a new pair. If the price is too high to resole your shoes, it may be worth it to invest in a new pair. Leather shoe soles will wear out quickly if worn on concrete and asphalt. These hard surfaces will actually chew away at the leather soles. If you live in a city and walk daily on concrete, it is a good idea to buy shoes that have either rubber soles or soles with a rubber heel and a rubber strip underneath the ball of your foot. This will greatly extend the life of the sole. A cobbler can also add this rubber strip when resoling your shoes.
With proper care, you can get your shoes to look better for a longer period of time. You will save money by shining your shoes yourself and not having to buy new shoes every year. These simple maintenance tips will keep your shoes comfortable and your feet happy.
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