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Tilting at Windmills

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February 16, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

TEFLON....Worried about getting cancer from omelettes cooked in your Teflon pan? As it happens, the newly designated "likely carcinogen" PFOA isn't found in Teflon, it's only used to make Teflon, so there's not really anything new to worry about unless you work in a Dupont factory. Just don't heat your Teflon pans to 500 degrees if your canaries are around.

But if you're looking for an alternative anyway, try a Scanpan skillet. They cost a fair amount, but the titanium surface is terrific: it heats evenly, it doesn't stick, and you can scrub it out with a scouring pad if you need to without damaging the surface. The space age explanation is here. I bought one a couple of years ago and it's the best pan I've ever owned. Plus, it's built like a tank and will probably last forever.

ADDED BONUS: Scanpan is a Danish company, so buying one helps our Danish friends who are being boycotted for allowing newspapers to print offensive cartoons. You can make tasty omelettes and strike a blow for free speech!

Kevin Drum 3:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (100)

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Comments

But.... are they made from the hulls of Soviet nuclear submarines?

Posted by: ogmb on February 16, 2006 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Sounds like a great pan, but I won't be buying Danish for awhile, I'm afraid ...

No need to give their nativist movement any more encouragement than this siege mentality is already giving them.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 16, 2006 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

Cool! I needed this advice: I've been going through one non-stick pan after another. Is it me? My mother went through 40 years of marriage with the same frying pans. They weren't Teflon, but she never replaced them!

Plus maybe I'll get to have the first post!

Posted by: Bill Camarda on February 16, 2006 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Plus maybe I'll get to have the first post!

Nope...

Posted by: ogmb on February 16, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

sounds good... wish they were a little cheaper. i'd love to ditch my entire fleet of scratched-up Teflon pans...

Posted by: cleek on February 16, 2006 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if I now see you hawking this stuff on one of those late-night, cheesy TV ads (think: Spectron C-33 hair renewal cream), I'll never forgive you.

Posted by: Doofus on February 16, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the info Kevin, been looking for a new set. How well are the handles holding up?

Posted by: Neo on February 16, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

People cook? In pans? Instead of ordering Thai?

Just kidding. I love to cook, but man, I haven't felt like it lately.

Posted by: shortstop on February 16, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

It also helps whiten teeth, keeps off the pounds, and mades you smarter.

You getting paid for this plug?

Posted by: shingles on February 16, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin:

Why do Americans insist on understanding European conflicts in strictly American terms?

Why do you think it's perfectly ok to project our views of free speech *as Americans* onto an entirely different cultural context?

Maybe this is part of why you missed out on being correct on Iraq ...

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 16, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, you're a SoCal guy, what with your fancy pans for making omlettes and whatnot.

Red Meat Staters use the iron skillet. Season it with pork grease and it will do everything you want it to, including making your fancy pants soy and spinach omlette you can eat with a latte while writing your check to the ACLU.

Added benefit: forearm workout!

Hmmm... pork products.

Posted by: daniel on February 16, 2006 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I couldn't agree more about Scanpan frying pans. I own two of them (different sizes) and am about to get a third. They are really terrific --worth the investment!

Posted by: JenK on February 16, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for the cookware lead, Kevin.

Teflon may not be carcinogenic, but I wonder where all the worn off teflon from my pans ends up.

At least criticism bounces right off me.

Posted by: peBird on February 16, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

The ad talks about easy clean-up. Who cleans their fry-pans??

Posted by: Hedley Lamarr on February 16, 2006 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Are you sure they don't have teflon?

I read the "space age explanation" and it says there are tiny little craters in the nearly-as-hard-as-diamond titanium/ceramic composite that are then filled with their "NewTek non-stick compound".

Which sounds suspiciously like Teflon.

Not that I have a problem with Teflon, or the pans, but I think it should be clear that the titanium/ceramic composite is not the antistick part- it just protects the coating from being scraped away.

The nature of the coating itself remains suspiciously unspecified.

Posted by: pdq on February 16, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

According to the SCANPAN FAQ, these pans have PTFE just like every other non-stick. I guess they're more durable (you can use metal utensils), but it's not really an alternative.

Posted by: rr on February 16, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

cheesy TV ads (think: Spectron C-33 hair renewal cream), I'll never forgive you. Posted by: Doofus

What? You mean that shit doesn't work? Now what am I going to do with three cases of it?

Posted by: Jeff II on February 16, 2006 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

I love to cook, and I'll be looking into getting one of these super-hi-tech pans, but I have to give some love to good old cast iron. Sure, it's a little harder to clean, but it cooks wonderfully and adds an essential nutrient to boot.

Posted by: Gregory on February 16, 2006 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Or, just use a cast iron pan. They last forever, you can pass them on for generations, they won't poison you or anyone else, and they even supplement your diet with iron. Your food won't stick to a well-seasoned pan, either.

Posted by: s5 on February 16, 2006 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

We don't have Teflon factories here do we?If we do we need to get China to make our teflon pans,We don't care if they become ill,after all there just commies.

Posted by: rico swava' on February 16, 2006 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I doubt the safety of any "non-stick" surface. Those poor little canaries start dying at around 200 degrees. Instead, I use seasoned cast iron and traditional French blue steel for eggs and crepes. Use a bamboo wok whisk and running water for cleanup on the hot cast iron. Blue steel cleans up with a cloth or paper towel.

Parchment paper or strips of vegetables (leek tops, carrots, celery, grape leaves from the garden, lettuce, etc.) can also be used to help keep food from sticking.

Viva Slow Food!

Posted by: Bob on February 16, 2006 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Another vote for cast iron here. Good, already-seasoned ones are available if you frequent swap meets.

Posted by: Ben on February 16, 2006 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Bob,

Why is it OK for the Islamic community to project their religious views on the rest of the world in completely different cultural contexts?

Free speech is a core western value and should always be defended.

Now, it's true that the Europeans (and now the UK) have a pretty mixed record when it comes to defending free speech. It's also true that under GWB, the US has a pretty bad record when it comes to protecting other core western values (like not torturing people).

Nevertheless, we can't fall off the relativist cliff. If a muslim person is offended by western speech, I respect their right to protest, write letters, burn flags, etc., but it's a BAD idea to support changing the rules about free speech in western countries in response to threats of terrorist attacks.

I support cultural sensitivity, but if anyone -- ANYONE -- wants to pass a law prohibiting certain political or religious speech, then that person is always wrong. (And yes, that includes the holocaust denial laws in Germany and Austria.)

Much of the Arab world is mired in the 13th century. We shouldn't enable those who want to stay there.

Posted by: Sean on February 16, 2006 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, Scanpans are coated with Teflon. The only difference is that they prepare the surface in such a way that they claim that the Teflon sticks better.

Posted by: Joe on February 16, 2006 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

um, cookware? this blog now does *cookware*? wtf?

Posted by: elfranko on February 16, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Call me old fashioned, but we use iron skillets here and they work great. We have about 8 of them in various sizes depending on the cooking task at hand.
They just need to not have soap used on them but can stand quite physical scrubbing.
We use abrasive pads with no soap when they get mucked up and then just put them on the wood stove to heat up, add some oil and wipe and hang. If done properly, a paper towell wipe is all that is required (eggs, etc).
We don't eat a lot of meat, but even a slice of pork butt blackened only requires metal spatula removal of crusty stuff, then above mentioned pad, etc.
Day after day no problemo

Posted by: David on February 16, 2006 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who needs a non-stick pan shouldn't be allowed to play with hot metal and food in the first place.

Posted by: C.J.Colucci on February 16, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

One bad thing about iron pans is the risk of elevated iron levels for men. It's a good idea to donate blood at least twice a year. Otherwise you have to do what our ancestors did: have bloody fights with large animals and other men, scrape and cut yourself a lot, and have parasites in your food (or just not live a long time)

Posted by: Bob on February 16, 2006 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Yup, cast iron.

Use 'em on the stove. Use 'em in the oven.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 16, 2006 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

More to the point, there isn't any credible evidence that PFOA is a health hazard; studies examining populations exposed to it don't show increased mortality levels. I'm all for re-enabling actual government oversight of the chemical industry, but this seems much ado about very little.

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on February 16, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

If you're interested in a relatively inexpensive test drive Amazon has the nine 1/2 inch skillet for 39.99, free super saver shipping, and a 10% discount (code - IODISCNT).

http://tinyurl.com/7c57x

Posted by: Manic Depression on February 16, 2006 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Another vote for cast iron here. They're fabulous for everything from pork products (mmmmmmmmmm . . .) to pancakes. Stir fry, eggs, whatever you want. And you can't make real cornbread without a cast iron skillet. Lodge makes a pre-seasoned line that is excellent, and extremely affordable.

Posted by: nolo on February 16, 2006 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

It's a good idea to donate blood at least twice a year.

Well, to tie two threads together, making them all about ME ME ME, I wish I could still give blood. I was a faithful, every-eight-weeks donor until they told me they didn't want my stinkin' corpuscles because I'd lived in England and they thought there might be a little Mad Cow floating around in there. Plus, I go to malarial zones and the Red Cross gets sniffy about that.

I'm surprised there are so many iron pan lovers here. I love mine, but they are heavy. I really prefer the All-Clad, which is substantial enough to be serious without breaking your foot if you drop it.

Posted by: shortstop on February 16, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I have never understood why people think they need "nonstick" pots and pans. I use RevereWare (named for Paul Revere, for you patriots) stainless steel copper-bottom pots and pans, same as my daddy and his daddy before, always have and always will. Scrub 'em by hand with hot soapy water and they clean up just fine.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 16, 2006 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

A Danish filmmaker won an Academy Award for best short film a few years ago for an entertaining (but still thoughtful) film about a guy who disguises himself as a Pakistani immigrant to help a girl he's in love with:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0340071/

If you can find it on one of those compilation tapes, it's worth a watch. It's mostly a lighthearted comedy, but he gets some pretty good digs in at the same time.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on February 16, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

I think the attraction of non-stick for some people is the ability to cook with zero or little added fat, SecularAnimist. There are lots of ways around that with regular pans, though--using a little liquid, spraying a little olive oil on the pan, or cooking on parchment or veggies as someone above mentioned.

Posted by: shortstop on February 16, 2006 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just keep canaries and aquariums out of the kitchen? They probably don't like your onion cutting, burnt toast, and oil vapors either.

It appears that once again the labeling requirements are non existant -- "infused annodized", "ceramic titanium", "specially formulated New Tek non-stick compound", "Quantanium nonstick", etc. are all apparently teflon/PTFE.

If it's non-stick and oven safe to 45O it's a traditional teflon product

If it's non-stick and oven safe to 500 it's a newer thin layer teflon infused product.

Posted by: ranaaurora on February 16, 2006 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone explain how this "likely carcinogen" PFOA has gotten into the bloodstreams of 90-some percent of humans?

Posted by: Mike on February 16, 2006 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a big fan of New Era (other "waterless" cookware is probably similar). Its not "non-stick" per se (the surfaces are stainless steel), but it cooks really well and cleans really easily. No need for non-stick.

Expensive as anything, though; but, if they last as well as they are supposed to, it'll be worth it.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 16, 2006 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

> PFOA
It's a fluorinated hydrocarbon.

It doesn't go away, it just gets spread out and bioaccumulates. It's used in manufacturing and there's no good way to dispose of it.

Fluorine, bromine and chlorine are all used to make very stable compounds.

Kevin, you should edit this hype for this product, it's disappointing.

Posted by: hank on February 16, 2006 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Danish companies, this would be a good time to go out and buy a Lego set. Not that there isn't a good time to do that.

Posted by: K on February 16, 2006 at 5:14 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, I'm confused: will Scanpans kill birds or won't they?

I'd love to find a nonstick pan that won't kill my birds.

Posted by: Urple on February 16, 2006 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

More to the point, there isn't any credible evidence that PFOA is a health hazard; studies examining populations exposed to it don't show increased mortality levels. I'm all for re-enabling actual government oversight of the chemical industry, but this seems much ado about very little.

3M stopped using it when they figured out how easy it is to measure in humans and the fact that it accumulates in the body over your life. Regulation has always been restricted to chemicals for which analytical detection techniques are sensitive -- EPA priority pollutants, MTBE, etc.

If you spill a complex mixture of chemicals into the environment (leaking underground gasoline tank, asphalt road runoff) no one generally knows the difference. If you add a nice tracer to the mix (MTBE gasoline additive or benzothiazolamines in tire rubber) all of a sudden you have to dig up all of your gasoline tanks and defend lawsuits about your road runoff killing frogs.

The solution is to take out anything in your product that could be used as a tracer and utilize complex mixtures or compounds that degrade into complex mixtures in future formulations. It has very little to do with health. It's all about making sure environmental pollutants (toxic or not) can't be traced back to you easily.

Posted by: ranaaurora on February 16, 2006 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Who needs Teflon anyway when you can have the media shilling for you? If we learned one thing from Reagan and Bush it's this.

Posted by: artcrit on February 16, 2006 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Hank that a blithe "just don't heat your pans to 500" doesn't cut it. Teflon is bad, and you don't want the molecules that transmit from it when it burns, and it happens all the time.

Aluminum is a scare for a lot of Alz worriers, as it travels even through clad metal and lodges in the food. The blood-brain barrier should keep all Aluminum out, not being fat soluble. There are some new data pointing to other ways to leach in, but the one albeit startling case of Alz-Alum linkage was of miners in Canada treating lung silicosis with inhaled aluminum dust nasally and they all got Alz and had way off the charts Aluminium (extra i in Can.) in brains post mortum.

Titanium rules on the camp trail, and teflon does ease cleanup, despite being (however mildly and conditionally a) poison.

I use the cast iron skillet daily. Seasoning is one of those ordinary miracles. If iron that does go into the food is absorbed by the body, it may not always be a good thing as I hope to be a man over 50 and then 60, for whom extra iron does not help their chances of cardiac problems.

And despite the BBBarrier, I rarely use alum.

Posted by: Cassandro on February 16, 2006 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Can anyone explain how this "likely carcinogen" PFOA has gotten into the bloodstreams of 90-some percent of humans? Posted by: Mike

As with most problems we have today, you can blame this, too, on self-centered Baby Boomers, who spent a lot of time sniffing Teflon back in the day.

The better-off, college "educated" could afford the stuff by the spray can (marine supply stores were the most common source - non-petroleum lubricant for sailing rigging).

The "street" version of this high involved scoring heating Teflon coated pans with a fork,(like many of your mothers have probably done) and then heatig them to extremely high temperatures until they started to smoke. You'd collect this in one of those clear plastic garment covers that you get with dry cleaning, and then you'd huff it.

Once a pan had been heated too many times, the coating would begin to flake off. There was a little more mileage in this residue, which could then be smoked in your garden variety hash pipe made of brass plumbing fittings.

Bill Clinton was asked about this during his MTV interview before the 1992 election. Everybody thought it was a joke.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 16, 2006 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

I ordered the starter set from ScanPan on Kevin's recommendation. I adhere as well to the free speech buy Danish campaign.

As everyone should know by now, the cartoon jihad is nothing but an example of Islamic fundamentalists flexing their political muscle. When the same cartoons appeared in an Egyptian newspaper months ago, that caused no uproar.

Caving to Islamic fundamentalists on a core value like free speech merely convinces them to bully anyone who doesn't agree with them all the more.

Posted by: JohnFH on February 16, 2006 at 5:30 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, I'm confused: will Scanpans kill birds or won't they?
I'd love to find a nonstick pan that won't kill my birds.

All teflon isn't equal. The cheap stuff with the lower temp rating is thicker and probably has more volatiles left over from manufacturing. There is a lot more potential for bad gases.

Posted by: ranaaurora on February 16, 2006 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

I bought one of these a couple of years ago and had to garbage it after 6 months. I had paid $200 for it.

It might have been my fault. They tell you to use it at medium heat. I had it on high at times.

I now use a cast iron skillet. Over time it becomes almost non stick. And you can use it at high it. Another advantage; they are cheap and they last forever. You just have to make sure to dry them after washing to prevent rusting. Even if they rust it is not the end. You can scrub the rust and re-season it in your over with oil.

Posted by: Nan on February 16, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

Aluminum is a scare for a lot of Alz worriers, as it travels even through clad metal and lodges in the food. The blood-brain barrier should keep all Aluminum out, not being fat soluble. Posted by: Cassandro

I would like to see data on this, as you're essentially claiming that one solid is migrating through another. Frying the Teflon off the pan is a hell of a lot easier to do.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 16, 2006 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

It might have been my fault. They tell you to use it at medium heat. I had it on high at times.
Posted by: Nan

The only two things I can think of that ever require high heat are boiling water (duh) and searing meat, and this should be done in an iron pan anyway.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 16, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Scanpans rock! Really great preformance. However, if they are banged around with the beloved cast iron pans the surface can be marred. Our movers dumped all our pots and pans into one big box without any wrapping or padding and the poor Scanpan was never the same.

I can't believe that so many of you only have one kind of pan.

Posted by: ogo on February 16, 2006 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK
I can't believe that so many of you only have one kind of pan.

While I still have others, once I get around to replacing them with New Era, I probably won't keep much of anything else but the Pyrex, and that for mostly aesthetic reasons.

Haven't seen much reason to prefer anything else for any use that I have.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 16, 2006 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

One problem I see is that titanium is a crappy heat conductor. Used to use it to isolate cryogenic containers in space until composites started to be a better solution. Of course, stainless isn't so good in that department either.

Posted by: tbrosz on February 16, 2006 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK
You can make tasty omelet's and strike a blow for free speech! Kevin Drum
You would support me support racist, rightwing politicos?


(It is worth noting that in 2004 the Danish editor who commissioned the drawings, Flemming Rose, conducted an uncritical interview with the American neoconservative and Islamophobe Daniel Pipes. Pipes, an extreme right-wing supporter of the Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, has warned of the dangers of Muslim immigration into Denmark, claiming that "many of them show little desire to fit into their adopted country" and that male Muslim immigrants made up a majority of the country's rapists.) '
An English translation of Flemming Rose's interview with Pipes is here. Rose deliberately sought the caricatures here:

http://engforum.pravda.ru/showthread.php3?s=&threadid=158638

Having the free-speech right to make insulting, racist commentary doesn't mean one should. I don't notice you and Andrew Sullivan using the "N" word, the "K" word, or any homophobic or ethnic smears.

Posted by: Mike on February 16, 2006 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's a good idea to donate blood at least twice a year. Otherwise you have to do what our ancestors did: have bloody fights with large animals and other men, scrape and cut yourself a lot, and have parasites in your food (or just not live a long time)Posted by: Bob on February 16, 2006 at 4:46 PM

Or participate in hunts with vice-presidents...


BTW, isn't too much iron poisonous for young children?

I seem to recall something like that.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on February 16, 2006 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Not only that, but when you smack somebody on the head with a cast iron skillet, their head takes on the shape of the inside of the pan and it makes a comical "spaaang" sort of sound.

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on February 16, 2006 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Not only that, but when you smack somebody on the head with a cast iron skillet, their head takes on the shape of the inside of the pan and it makes a comical "spaaang" sort of sound. Posted by: Quaker in a Basement

Thank god for Looney Tunes.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 16, 2006 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, the latest research shows that Greenland's ice is melting twice as fast as previously believed.

Whatever sort of cooking pot you like, get a really big one and make sure it floats. You may need to use it as a boat.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 16, 2006 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK
Whatever sort of cooking pot you like, get a really big one and make sure it floats. You may need to use it as a boat.

Wouldn't it be more sensible just to buy a boat to use as a boat? Right tool for the job and all.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 16, 2006 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Nonstick coatings are safe when used properly. The scare shows done lately are regarding manufacturing, not the end product.

And the aluminum scare was debunked many years ago. Not true at all. BTW, most restaurant pans are aluminum.

A little more from Scanpan's website on both topics, but I knew this before:

"It is unfortunate that the media shows the image of a Teflon pan while reporting on PFOA. They should show the image of a factory producing PTFE and capturing and filtering out the PFOA.

There is no PFOA present in the finished product"

&
Has aluminum not been linked to Alzheimer's Disease?

A: No. The FDA has determined years ago that there is no connection between aluminum and Alzheimer's Disease. In fact, plain aluminum pans have been used for decades for food preparation all over the world.

Posted by: RIck on February 16, 2006 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Teflon can be very harmful to pet birds. It's not totally unheard of for bird owners to cook with a new teflon pan, and have their very expensive and beloved parrots kick the bucket immediately thereafter.

Yes birds are more sensitive to toxic fumes than mammals. Still, it makes you wonder what's happening to your own lungs. (Canary in the mine).

Posted by: Librul on February 16, 2006 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote: Wouldn't it be more sensible just to buy a boat to use as a boat?

Sure, but a comment about buying a boat would have been off-topic.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 16, 2006 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised. I certainly believe in free speech. And buy Danish products by all means,
but don't make out the newspaper editors to be heroes - they were out to offend, and they succeeded. It was, to quote Karen Armstrong "criminally negligent" on their part. Leave the Denmark boosting to Sullivan.

Posted by: Ravi on February 16, 2006 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Don't doubt that Scanpan is a fine product, but somehow "The Scanpan President" or the "The Scanpan Don" doesn't seem to have the same ring.

Threw together something or other tonight - Browned the ground beef in an iron skillet - sauteed onions, green peppers and garlic in a Teflon skillet, threw the mess together with some Italian tomato and herbie mix and boiled some water for the noodles. Hope it works.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 16, 2006 at 8:17 PM | PERMALINK

The bird thing was covered on the Scanpan site, I didn't include it for brevity. In short: if you burned the butter in (any) pan, the smoke from that could kill a bird too. They're just very sensitive.

I normally don't use nonstick anyway for most cooking, but I do use an 8" and 12" nonstick frypan for some more cooking tasks, like delicate fish or eggs. And as someone else mentioned, there's no reason to crank the heat on high for most things.

Posted by: RIck on February 16, 2006 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

I've had a set of Calphalon professional cookware for about 6 years, and I swear by them. Cook whatever you want in it, let it cool before cooking, and scrub it out, just as described with the Danish pans. Among the worst, stickiest mess there is would be searing a filet mignon or pork tenderloin in a hot skillet, which sometimes requires a bit of a soak, but nothing to date has been a challenge to clean out. I do scour them thoroughly with a green scrub pad after each use, maybe this makes the difference.

Not to lose focus from the news at hand, you can also sear a hell of a good quail in them...

:-)

Posted by: thinker on February 16, 2006 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

The Kevin Drum version of "slackjawed, staring off into space."

Posted by: dick tuck on February 16, 2006 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

My wife and I are bout 50 (average of the two) and we have used our grandparents iron pans (6 of em) for 25 years ourselves, on top of our grandparents. They clean easy, cook evenly, don't warp, don't flake (ahem) particles into the food, and our kids will get to use them (someday). There are really good cast iron pans available, all you need to do is take the time to season them. They are cheap, comparatively, and hey for me, non stick is more hype than necessary....

Posted by: Geo Washington Hayduke on February 16, 2006 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to be negative, but we had a set of these for several years, and the bonded titanium surface chipped off after about 5 years of use. That left large pockmarks in the pans that did stick. We never overheated them or abused them, they just wore out. Maybe they have improved the process since we bought them. I'm back to Calphalon multi-layer stainless steel, and a few teflon pans.

Posted by: Stuart on February 16, 2006 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

"...there isn't any credible evidence that PFOA is a health hazard; studies examining populations exposed to it don't show increased mortality levels."

I was an anti-pesticide activist for years and I learned that the regulatory system is essentially based on industry studies--studies that don't ask the right questions, don't have the ability to do the necessary monitoring or exposure studies, and are often outright fraudulent. Almost all chem studies are done on animals - and most of those on mice and rats. Almost all the studies are on ingestion and if you want to know about the "safe" INHALATION levels, why the govt computers will crunch that out for you. I have one paper by a top epidemiologist that admits that none of the chemical studies done thus far are adequate to cover longterm reproductive, neurological, or immune system problems. Virtually no studies cover the all-important fact of synergism--that multiple chemical exposure at low levels can cause all kinds of harm that the individual chemicals don't. But all studies used by regulators are single chemicals administered to a single genetically homogenous species. Trying to compare this to human exposures is a joke--and many a govt scientist has admitted this to me off the record.

Teflon is a poison. Whether or not or how much is needed to cause illness in an adult will remain an unknown. The real worry is reproduction, starting with the production of ova and sperm, then on through conception, gestation, and the first few years of life. That's why my mother and friends (in their 80's) have no breast cancer, but so many of their daughters do. I explained to Mom, "You grew up eating an organic diet (all food was essentially organic then) and you were not exposed to the myriad chemicals produced by the petroleium/plastics industry that smothered our world after WWII. But your children have been swimming in those chemicals since day one. End result: cancer, reproductive disfunction (we have half the sperm of our grandparents), neurodegenerative disease, and autoimmune dysfunction."

Cast iron, baby! Oh Yeah! I can see myself in my pan. Get it at a thrift store. Scrubthe hell out of it. Heat it real hot. And then season it. Best pan in the world.

Posted by: geo on February 16, 2006 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Personally, I've always been grossed out by the whole concept of a seasoned cast iron pan. Just wiping it or rinsing with a little bit of water each time so it stays seasoned... Not hygenic at all. I'd rather smoke teflon.

I do love enameled cast iron pans for searing steaks. Or a nickel plated one. But I'd never use them for eggs.

Different pans for different jobs.

Posted by: Rick on February 17, 2006 at 1:48 AM | PERMALINK

Responding to Daniel
I'm a carpenter and get home before my wife and have been cooking dinner for over 25 years. Red meat and pork grease are GOOD. Just think how much better it will be without man-made carcinogens - just Intelligent Design carcinogens for me, Mister.
But, don't worry abour teflon either- george bush said it's OK.

Posted by: rik @ work on February 17, 2006 at 7:03 AM | PERMALINK

Any decent commercial grade steel or aluminum pan becomes 'non-stick' if it is seasoned correctly.

Ask any chef anywhere.

> Personally, I've always been grossed out by the whole concept of a seasoned cast iron pan. Just wiping it or rinsing with a little bit of water each time so it stays seasoned... Not hygenic at all.

Oh, please...the cooking temps involved in sauteing or frying make this as 'hygenic'as all get out.

My woks are non-stick but as spun steel they are entirely innocent of Teflon. Teflon become the rage since it allowed them to decrease the gauge and quality of the metal used. Thin gauge pans suck.

Enter Teflon.

Big big savings there, folks.

Also, heat the pan well before you add the oil.

Posted by: CFShep on February 17, 2006 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Or...you could just use cast iron. Well seasoned it'll be slick as glass and the best pan you've ever had.

Posted by: The Daily Caveat on February 17, 2006 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Or...you could just use cast iron. Well seasoned it'll be slick as glass and the best pan you've ever had. And it will stop a bullet.

Posted by: The Daily Caveat on February 17, 2006 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Cast iron is great for some things. Best cornbread in creation just to name one. Static frying as opposed to sauteing unless you have wrists of steel.

I have regular cast iron and vitreous glazed (Le Creuset) which I love for braising.

It's heavy and tends to become brittle as all get out, though. Drop one on a typical commercial kitchen tile/concrete floor and be prepared to administer first aid.

Choose the right pan for the job at hand. Heat it well before adding the fat.

Posted by: CFShep on February 17, 2006 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Or...you could just use cast iron. Well seasoned it'll be slick as glass and the best pan you've ever had. And it will stop a bullet.

Posted by: The Daily Caveat on February 17, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Or...you could just use cast iron. Well seasoned it'll be slick as glass and the best pan you've ever had. And it will stop a bullet.

Posted by: The Daily Caveat on February 17, 2006 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Democrats boot candidate who didn't fit the mold
Joshua Green describes a legendary Eskimo practice of dealing with elders who have outlived their usefulness by placing them on an ice floe and sending them off to sea. Democratic minority leader Sen. Harry Reid and campaign chairman Charles Schumer employed a similar tactic on one of their party's most promising Senate candidates for the 2006 elections.


Paul Hackett, the Iraq War veteran who was running for the Senate in Ohio, announced this week that he is leaving the race because national and state party leaders have pressured him to withdraw and called his donors to dry up their contributions.

Posted by: nok on February 17, 2006 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

BUY DANISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: ick on February 17, 2006 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

shortstop,
Well, to tie two threads together, making them all about ME ME ME, I wish I could still give blood. I was a faithful, every-eight-weeks donor until they told me they didn't want my stinkin' corpuscles because I'd lived in England and they thought there might be a little Mad Cow floating around in there.
Unbelievable! The exact same thing happened to me. Do you suppose our exposure to England is what corrupted us into the liberals we now are? I think that is what changed me.

Where does the scraped teflon go? Good question. Being essentially plastic I suppose it goes to the sewage treatment plant. What do they do with it?

But where does the iron from cast iron go? Urine or poop seem to be the only likely answers.

Heck, where does the rubber go that is worn off all the car tires? Why don't we see piles of it beside the roads?

I know where my vitamin B supplement goes. It goes to make my urine a nice yellow. I hear Americans have the most nutritious urine in the world.

Posted by: Tripp on February 17, 2006 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

geo,

We each choose our religion and I'll respect yours, but please do not claim it is science.

Posted by: Tripp on February 17, 2006 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

The Daily Caveat,

What would you recommend as a substitute for teflon?

Posted by: Tripp on February 17, 2006 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Geo Washington Hayduke,

My wife and I are bout 50 (average of the two) and we have used our grandparents iron pans (6 of em) for 25 years ourselves, on top of our grandparents.

Most of the professional chefs I've seen prefer gas ranges tops but whatever works for you I guess.

Man, this thread is gold, a comic gold mine I tell ya!

Enjoy the veal, I'll be here until Thursday!

Ba dum dum.

Posted by: Tripp on February 17, 2006 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

CF Shep,

Try using white vinegar and sea salt to clean iron skillets.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 17, 2006 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

CF Shep,

Try using white vinegar and sea salt to clean iron skillets. Posted by: thethirdPaul

Just what you'd expect for someone who left Washington for Oregon.

If you really want to clean them, fill the pan with water, add a healthy amount of baking soda, and set the pan to boil.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 17, 2006 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Geo Washington Hayduke,

My wife and I are bout 50 (average of the two) and we have used our grandparents iron pans (6 of em) for 25 years ourselves, on top of our grandparents.

Try them on top of the stove. I'm sure your grandparents will appreciate this and, unless the two of them generate inhuman amounts of body heat, you'll find the cooking a bit more efficient as well.

BTW, why do you have 6 grandparents?

Posted by: Jeff II on February 17, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, forgot about salt to clean up iron pans. Get a 25 lb bag from a big box store for about $4. Keep a lb or so in a bowl by the sink. Cheaper than Bon Ami. Cleans up and sterilizes wood counters and blocks as well as all sorts of pans. For tough jobs use with bamboo whisk. No need to use plastic scrubbers.

Don't forget about blue steel pans for eggs and pancakes. They are super lightweight and very easy to work with.

Also, if you're plastic/fluoride-phobic like me, install a big butcher paper dispenser. Re-wrap meats, cheeses, etc. and use as a protective barrier between food and plastic bags. And of course, butcher paper looks great on the dining table. Glass canning jars are also good for food storage.

Now if I could only stop Santa Monica from dumping fluoride into my water.

Posted by: Bob on February 17, 2006 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Sean:

> Hey Bob,

Hey Sean :)

> Why is it OK for the Islamic community to project their
> religious views on the rest of the world in completely
> different cultural contexts?

It's not.

> Free speech is a core western value and should always be defended.

No it isn't. Our libel laws, for instance, are entirely different.
Hate speech codes fly in Europe that have been ruled unconstitutional
here. Free speech as a *principle* is duly lauded in every democracy,
but don't pretend that there aren't shades, or that free speech rights
are somehow absolute. Absolutism is just as brain dead as relativism.

> Now, it's true that the Europeans (and now the UK) have a pretty
> mixed record when it comes to defending free speech. It's also
> true that under GWB, the US has a pretty bad record when it comes
> to protecting other core western values (like not torturing people).

They have a view that's appropriate for them. They've banned
Scientology in Germany as a for-profit cult. Kind of flabbergasting
for an American until you reflect on their experience with Nazis.

> Nevertheless, we can't fall off the relativist cliff. If a muslim
> person is offended by western speech, I respect their right to
> protest, write letters, burn flags, etc., but it's a BAD idea to
> support changing the rules about free speech in western countries
> in response to threats of terrorist attacks.

Tell it to Tony Blair, who just pushed through a bill that
criminalizes language that "glorifies terrorism." If this law
were proposed in America, I'd oppose it and organize against it.
But it wasn't. The Britons have a different level of concern.

> I support cultural sensitivity, but if anyone -- ANYONE --
> wants to pass a law prohibiting certain political or religious
> speech, then that person is always wrong. (And yes, that
> includes the holocaust denial laws in Germany and Austria.)

Tell it to the Austrians who are prosecuting David Irving, a
well-credentialed scholar of 20th century warfare, for Holocaust
denial. I don't believe you can draw a universal principle here.

> Much of the Arab world is mired in the 13th century.
> We shouldn't enable those who want to stay there.

Well, your interpretation of the controversy (and of my position)
is wrong. The "buy Danish!" campaign is to express solidarity
against a boycott, which is in my view a perfectly reasoanble
response by Muslims to publishing those cartoons. I oppose this
because Denmark has a very vigorous right-wing nativist movement.

This issue isn't about "free speech." The very same anti-immigrant
agitators who would feel cheered by a "buy Danish" campaign are
pressing to censor the Koran of 200 verses that "promote violence."
Have these racists read the Old Testament lately? While I agree as
a principle that both sides are trying to restrict speech in a way
that I don't believe is in the best interests of democracy, I don't
think these assinine cartoons are particularly worthy of agitation
on behalf of free speech. A novel, a movie, a painting that
Mulsims find offensive while others find *artistic*, okay then.
Sign me up for candlelight vigils on behalf of Salman Rushdie.

Racist editorial cartoons, OTOH, can drop off the face of the earth.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 17, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

JohnFH:

> I ordered the starter set from ScanPan on Kevin's recommendation.
> I adhere as well to the free speech buy Danish campaign.

I would never, ever lend support to a right wing government that
advocates a hardcore assimilationist approach to immigration. By
setting the bar of citizenship so high, this inevitably creates a
resentful underclass of unassimilated immigrants, which is precisely
what happened in France. While I think that the other side of the
coin -- extreme multiculturalism (e.g. Holland, Sweden) -- is naive
and ineffective in fostering the kind of respect for the host country
necessary to avoid social dissonance, the American pluralist approach
is superior to both. Banning religious symbols, denying and mocking
alien cultural practices only leads, in the real world, to backlash.

> As everyone should know by now, the cartoon jihad is nothing but an
> example of Islamic fundamentalists flexing their political muscle.

Which is precisely what groups do in a democracy -- flex their
muscles. To oppose this, you'd have to oppose Christian rightists
doing the same. And if you start making consequentialist arguments
for this based on the alleged "incorrigible" nature of this or
that group, then your committment to democracy begins to unravel.

We wanted democracy in the Mideast. We got Hamas, al-Sadr and SCIRI.

We're either cultural supremecists or democrats.
I've chosen my poison. Which side are *you* on?

> When the same cartoons appeared in an Egyptian
> newspaper months ago, that caused no uproar.

Well this is an egregious gloss that attempts to accuse the
protesters against those cartoons of being insincere. As always,
context is everything; the Egyptian paper reprinted those cartoons
*after* they ran in the Danish paper, as part of the news story.
They weren't printed in the "Mohammed's Funny Pages" section.

Also of note is that the pro-nativist JP had been editorializing
against Muslims for months, advocating censoring the Koran, giving
vent to the "scholarly" Islamophobia of Daniel Pipes, whipping up
paranoia and resentment. The cartoons were only a culmination --
and amounted to nothing more edifying than a finger in the eye.

> Caving to Islamic fundamentalists on a core value
> like free speech merely convinces them to bully
> anyone who doesn't agree with them all the more.

In fact precisely the reverse is true -- ask Tony Blair. He
mustered support for a law that criminalizes speech that
"glorifies terrorism" and doubtless had to contend with MPs
on his left arguing on behalf of free speech and those on his
right making your Bushoid "only caving to terrorists" argument.
In truth, limiting speech in certain contexts is probably the
*only* response that European governments have to Islamist
agitation. Some nativist right-wingers want to censor that Koran.

Organizing a boycott is a time-honored form of democratic
protest, and I have no problem with Muslims for doing this
(firebombing embassies and rioting are -- of course -- other
matters and should be roundly condemed as they have been by
Muslims). One needn't push for new laws here -- only the common
sense of good editorial judgment. American newspapers didn't
run the cartoon and no one seems to be in an uproar save for
right-wing provocateurs who wish to spark further controversy.

Why?

An insult is an insult. Free speech doesn't protect "fighting words."

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 17, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

An insult is an insult. Free speech doesn't protect "fighting words." Posted by: rmck1

Bob, we can be as sensitive to Islam as you like, but that isn't going to change the fundamental differences in culture and religion that separate the more open West and the significantly less open Muslim dominated parts of the world. (And, by the way, not all cultures are equal.)

The best we can hope for is good 'ol peaceful co-existence. All the better if this peaceful co-existence involves as little commerce as possible and little or no migration.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 17, 2006 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

late in the game but cast iron has my vote, wife's grandmother gave me all hers (including a dutch oven) and for real cooking it's the best there is and real easy to clean. Whether it's eggs and bacon or just a stew cast-iron has my vote hands down.

Posted by: dreggas on February 17, 2006 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

Jeff II:

> An insult is an insult. Free speech doesn't
> protect "fighting words." Posted by: rmck1

> Bob, we can be as sensitive to Islam as you like, but that
> isn't going to change the fundamental differences in culture
> and religion that separate the more open West and the
> significantly less open Muslim dominated parts of the world.

Of course not. But this thread raised the question of supporting
the Buy Danish campaign -- and I don't, because I think the JP had
the boycott coming to them. Denmark has a blasphemy law on its
books. When it's merely a question of whose ox is being gored, then
Buy Danish isn't defending a principle, it's defending the attitudes
toward Muslim immigrants that the JP represents. And I do not.

> (And, by the way, not all cultures are equal.)

Well, this is egregious and dangerous -- and none the less
so for looking simply objectively true. I mean, it looked
pretty objectively true for the Nazis, too -- and Hitler was
an ardent admirer of American eugenics and anthropology which
rested on the premise of objective racial/cultural inequality.

Obviously the question is a little more subtle today. We've all
accepted the notion of universal humanity, and the 1948 UN Universal
Declaration of Human Rights inevitably points to some cultural
practices that are de-facto inhuman. For instance, no civilized
person can defend clitoridectomy. It's likewise difficult to swallow
the egregious gender inequalities enshrined in most flavors of Sharia.
Or the custom of torching Indian widows in her husband's funeral pyre.

But this raises a conundrum: If we value the humanity of everybody,
we have to acknowledge that everybody are products of their particular
cultural heritages. So we're put into the position of saying "We
welcome you, Akbar, as a full member of the family of humanity -- but
your barbaric culture completely sucks." Don't wonder when Akbar
doesn't take this the least bit seriously and becomes completely
insulted instead. It was a lot easier in the days of scientific
racism when we could just say to Akbar that his barbaric culture
completely sucks *because* Akbar is subhuman member of the mud races.

If we're all equal as human beings, then we have to practice
sympathetic introspection to try to understand people as they
understand themselves. Because Muslim culture finds this much more
difficult to do than the West doesn't make it any less essential.

Call it an updated version of the White Man's Burden if you must.

> The best we can hope for is good 'ol peaceful co-existence.
> All the better if this peaceful co-existence involves as
> little commerce as possible and little or no migration.

This is Huntingtonism -- quintessential cultural pessimism. It's
entirely naive. It ducks all the hard questions. Globalization
simply won't let it happen. As long as Pakistani IT workers are
lured to America, as long as the GOP tries to seduce these new
citizens into voting for them because, hey, Christians are social
conservatives, too -- then we're going to deal with cultural exchange.

Not to mention contining to glut the Mideast with oil revenue.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 17, 2006 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Saw this on their explanation page :

"Now to SCANPAN's space-age surface: Both ceramic and titanium are incredibly hard materials."

Most ceramics are hard (and brittle) but titanium is a fairly soft metal. I remember seeing an ad for 'titanium' drill bits; they'd likely warp on first use. Titanium nitride, OTOH...

Posted by: Dave Ruddell on February 17, 2006 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

Urple wrote: Wait, I'm confused: will Scanpans kill birds or won't they?

Depends on how hard you whack 'em.
Sorry, couldn't resist.

Posted by: EM on February 17, 2006 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

I've been using these for years. They are great pans to cook with and they also make very good gifts.

Posted by: blt on February 17, 2006 at 11:31 PM | PERMALINK

This is Huntingtonism -- quintessential cultural pessimism. It's entirely naive. It ducks all the hard questions. Globalization simply won't let it happen.

No, Bob. It's completely realistic, and if it weren't for the oil in the region, the ME would barely register in the world economy otherwise.

As long as Pakistani IT workers are
lured to America, . . . Bob Posted by: rmck1

I think you mean Indian IT people. Pakistan's education system is a joke, and, in spite of Pakistan being our bestest friend in the War on Terra (Haute), I don't think we are granting too many Pakistani's visas of any sort right now. Musharraf may "love" us, but I imagine that the average Pakistani loathes us at best.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 18, 2006 at 1:41 AM | PERMALINK

Jeff II:

> "This is Huntingtonism -- quintessential cultural pessimism.
> It's entirely naive. It ducks all the hard questions.
> Globalization simply won't let it happen."

> No, Bob. It's completely realistic, and if it weren't
> for the oil in the region, the ME would barely
> register in the world economy otherwise.

Several points. First of all, writing the oil out of the region
with a counterfactual is the sine qua non of unrealism. Secondly,
emigration to the West occurs in all regions of the world whether
economically vibrant or not (especially not), so cultural exchange
will still take place. And don't forget our support for Israel --
and our counterbalancing support of their peace partners Egypt and
Jordan. And please don't forget Turkey which is angling for EU
membership (and stumbling to be sure, but still trying hard).
And of course Indonesia -- the most populous Muslim country --
and Malaysia, which have potentially very bright economic futures.

Take all this together and the idea of shutting the West's borders
to Islamic influence (and Muslim cultures to Western influence) is
not remotely realistic. The global economy needs workers and markets,
and refugess from despotisms need places to go. Plus, the entire
Western world, given our democratic traditions, could never act
in concert. If we close our borders, all of Europe surely won't.

The West and Islam have intertwined destinies. It is that simple.

> "As long as Pakistani IT workers
> are lured to America, . . . "

> I think you mean Indian IT people.

No, I was thinking of some Muslims in McMansions (McMuslims?)
I canvassed for Corzine last summer who I pegged ethnically as
Pakistani, but I could have been mistaken. In any case, the
Muslim vote used to split evenly before 9/11, and there are
a Muslim middle and upper-middle class. They're not all
cabdrivers and convenience store clerks by a long shot.

> Pakistan's education system is a joke, and, in spite of
> Pakistan being our bestest friend in the War on Terra
> (Haute), I don't think we are granting too many Pakistani's
> visas of any sort right now. Musharraf may "love" us, but
> I imagine that the average Pakistani loathes us at best.

Sure, but Pakistanis in America are like any other immigrant group.
And they're going to send back remittances and stories of consumer
goods and work to get their families over here, and the GOP is
going to court them as fellow social conservatives and the Dems
are going to court them by standing up for their civil liberties.

A nation of immigrants can't culturally disengage from a
region of the world even if it had every intention of doing so.

Bob

Posted by: rmck1 on February 18, 2006 at 4:24 AM | PERMALINK

Utterly puzzled as to how I came to be on the receiving end of advice on how to destroy the seasoning of cast iron or any other metal cooking surface.

To maintain the surface of a properly seasoned cast iron skillet what you do is

1) Pour off any fat remaining
2) Wipe it out with a paper towel; it's seasoned, after all, so food hasn't adhered to it.
3) Heat the skillet until it's quite hot
5) Add a small amount of clean fat to the pan.
4) Remove from the heat and allow to cool
and then
5) Wipe surface again with a paper towel.
6) Store in a dry place.

Steps 3 through 6 are the steps to season a new pan. Takes a dozen or so times through the process. The pores of the cast iron are sealed and there ya go: non-stick and non-rusting.

If your object in cooking is produce good food then stay outta those chi-chi overpriced kitchen stores and find the nearest restaurant supply house. If you're into status displays - well, that's why Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table exist, after all. Hang that stuff on your pot racks and cook with decent grade commercial.

If it can withstand the attentions of junkie dishwashers in restaurants it can take pretty much anything you can do to it at home.

(Pssst - free hint: Never! never! never! put good knives in the dishwasher. Destroys the temper and thus the ability to take and hold an edge. Nothing is more dangerous than a dull knife.)

Posted by: CFShep on February 18, 2006 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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