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This is great advice. The only addition (or substitution for the Aluminum Skillet if you're on a budget) I would make is a cast iron skillet. Not as 'non-stick' as the caphalon but will literally last a lifetime.
You really need to take some photos and describe it better. How heavy is the pan? Is it light enough for you to wave it around in the air? If not, it might be cast iron. A 12" cast iron skillet weighs around 8lbs (going by these details on the Lodge pan on Amazon).
What color is it on the outside? Cast iron will be black all the way around. What material does it seem to be made of? Aluminum is very light and often pretty thin. I doubt it is stainless steel because the inside being black would mean it is just really dirty.
Did you ever wash it? Will that stuff that you can scrape off wash off with a good scrubbing?
Have you asked your mom? Most pans have specific ways that you need to care for them to keep them in good shape and to work their best. For example, you shouldn't use metal utensils in Teflon coated pans because you'll scratch the non-stick surface. Also, you shouldn't let cast iron pans sit around wet because they'll start to rust and they need a good season to perform their best.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet. Bought mine for $18 at Target and it will literally last me the rest of my life (and probably my kids' lives too). Adds so much flavor to dishes and browns like a champ!
You wont be able to afford decent copper with that money. Cast iron is always cheap. I would just go with a Lodge and cook the more acidic things in her nonreactive crap pots and pans until she can afford better cookware.
Most of my cooking is done with just what you have. There's three other utensils I consider staples in the kitchen:
Cast-iron skillet. This was the real game-changer for me. It does everything from eggs to steak to meatza to veggies, can be used for everything when it's too windy/cold outside to grill, and can be put in the oven/broiler when stuff is 90% done to melt cheese on top. You can get good pre-seasoned ones pretty cheap (the one I have) and care is simple.
Crockpot/slow-cooker. Very useful for when you want to be lazy about cooking but still have wonderfully tender meat. Slightly lower on the list than the skillet; I don't have one yet and am making due with a 12-quart stockpot, but cooking with that can be temperamental and I've heard great things about slow-cookers from a few friends (and seen the results).
Good knives. Overlooked a lot, but making anything that requires prep is made much easier by having a sturdy, sharp chef's knife. If you make a lot of roasts, throw in a carving knife too; you want to be carving your meat, not sawing away at it.
Cast iron isn't expensive:
Thrift stores are always a great place to score good, old, seasoned cast iron as well.
With the enameled coating on the LC means your seasoning is not going to stick. It's a great skillet, I wouldn't use it like a true cast iron. Save it for something a little lower temp (like eggs or sausages) and add a little more oil.
You probably invested quite a bit of money in the LC. Sorry.
BUT good thing is is you don't need to spend a lot of money on a decent cast iron skillet. Spend $20 and go get yourself a Lodge 12-inch pre-seasoned skillet Amazon
Lodge Cast Iron Skillet on Amazon
I have a few different sizes of these and love them. Read up on how to clean them though, don't use soap!
I've been happy with my Lodge Logic skillet. I've had it for 3 months. From the start it had a great non-stick seasoning. And its only $20.
Alright- I'm gonna throw at you my standard 'I've got cash to buy new cookware: what do I get' list. It's pretty much the same for a guy/gal who just got divorced, a dude/lady moving out of the dorms and into their first apartment, or really anyone who is working with nothing but some bare cash and wants to turn it into food.
1) 10 or 12 inch cast iron pan - Lodge. Goes for $18 on amazon. You want this for 'general purpose' preparations; that's essentially putting heat on anything that isn't fish or eggs (more on that later). You're gonna get it pre-seasoned so some regular maintenance (eg. make bacon in the pan once or twice a month) will keep it just fine. Wash it with soap and water after each use, dry it thoroughly, don't ever let it sit in water (it can and will rust). It'll last longer than you. This isn't going in the dishwasher- sorry. But it's easy to clean and will reward your patience. Steaks, pan pizza, shallow frying, roasting a chicken, fajita veggies, making quesadillas, pan nachos, whatever it is that isn't fish or eggs goes in this pan.
2) 6qt enameled dutch oven - Also lodge. Goes for 50 bucks on amazon. This is your big-deal saucepan for building tomato sauces, stews, soups, deep frying (get a fry thermometer), braises- anything where you need a lot of liquid and need to put some heat on that. It's enameled because acids can leech into raw cast iron and alter the flavour of your food; and tomato is acidic (for example). Making short ribs? Sear 'em on the stovetop, move the pot into the oven for a final braise. This sucker will also last longer than you. Yea- it's dishwasher safe, but if you want it to stay pretty wash it by hand- it takes a few seconds and she's a pretty looking thing. Treat her right.
3) 12 inch stainless pan Tramontina, 18/10, Tri-Ply, fully Clad 60 smackos on the 'zon.com. You don't really need this per-se if you've already got your 12" cast iron, but if you go 10" on the cast iron (which I recommend, they're heavy and 10 is easier to manipulate), snag this puppy in 12". She's your go-to roaster for things that won't fit in your 10", for example. Or if you're prepping a multi-course meal she's available when your cast iron isn't.
4) Nonstick pan any cheapass pan will do this one is $12, so whatevs. This pan has exactly two uses, so listen carefully. Eggs. Anything egg-based (except quiche since that goes in the oven- but fuck quiche, and poached eggs since they go in water)- so omelettes, eggs over easy, eggs over hard, eggs scrambled, crepes. Fish. If you need to put heat directly on fish it goes in this pan. Abuse the piss out of this thing if you want to, but the second anything starts sticking to it- throw it out and have a new one shipped amazon prime. This is disposable just like every piece of nonstick cookware in the world because none of them last forever, and ignore anything that tells you differently.
5) Stock pot specifics are also unimportant this one is 22 dollarydoos. This pot has 3 major requirements- it needs to be big, it needs to have a lid, and it needs to be big. Nothing crazy or special about this thing because it only has a few major uses: bringing liquids to a boil/simmer is one of the major ones. This is where you'll make your stocks, boil your pastas, and really that's about it. Water should be the first thing in this pot most of the time.
6) Saucepan don't really care about this one either- here's one I think it's $30. Just like your stock pot- this is for liquids (sauce pan- duh) except smaller. Late night ramen, rice, and steamed milk are going to be its biggest uses initially. Over time? It'll take anything your dutch oven doesn't have to do, and anything your stock pot doesn't want to do. Requirements? Lid. Handle. That's about it.
You'll notice the startling lack of any 'set' or anything of that sort here. That's because sets of pots you don't need are dumb. You'll note none of these have glass lids, that's because glass breaks. You'll note none of this stuff costs a fortune, and that's because it doesn't have to. This setup can handle 95% of cooking tasks without breaking a sweat, and without your credit card company celebrating the new statue they can build outside their main office because of all the money you spent. Leftover cash? Buy a knife, get a few wire racks and baking pans, and buy a nice cut of steak, some pasta, some salmon, and veggies to try out your new gear.
Lodge is available almost everywhere and works great, it's made in the USA and should be 20-30 dollars. [link] Here's a link, I know offhand I've seen them at REI, Target, Wal-mart, Ace Hardware, Orchard Supply, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc etc. Amazon has them, you may get stewed on the shipping because it's a heavy bugger.
Also you're going to want something to grab the handle with, oven mitts (good ones) or one of these sorts of things: [link]
You can also bake FANTASTIC cornbread in them
Deal link: Amazon
A cast iron skillet. Amazingly cooked steak really changes your perspective on chicken nuggets...
Something like this
Lodge Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet - 12 Inch Ergonomic Frying Pan with Assist Handle [link]
I ordered this one. I hope it will be worth it. I have only had 1 cast iron before this and I got it from my grandma, but the handle broke on it.
Not to be an ass, but why in the world would you pay $40 for a shitty IKEA pan when you could get a legit American made Lodge cast iron pan for $17?!
12" Lodge on Amazon around $25 +/- shipping in the US right now.
Cast iron is my favourite way to steak! This guy is pretty cheap and has served we well: [link]
Does she cook? Kitchen tools are always practical, and something like a cast iron pan is very useful. Or you could also get tea set along with some dainty tea towels.
And yes it is pre-seasoned, but I prefer a nice black patina that you can't get from the factory.
"Possesses most cookware"- but does she have a cast iron skillet? If not, get her a cast iron skillet.
cast iron skillet
Nothing sears like cast iron, and after a few months the surface is slippery enough for eggs. Lasts forever.
I have the Lodge 12 inch - I'd place my guess that he has a 8/9 inch on the side, and that the big one is 15 inches. My 12 inch is crazy heavy, I can't imagine that one.
Cast iron (preseasoned is easier) is durable with proper care... Perhaps not so much for eggs (while it is still new), but still...
The true answer is you cannot. Here is a cast iron you may purchase for $20; [link]
Make good meat or make no meat at all.
End of conversation.
Pans are heavier than maces or a war hammer
Warhammer weight: 1lb 11.07oz
Iron Skillet weight: 8.38lbs