I’m kind of a dork when it comes to cookware and kitchen gadgets. I love checking out the latest and greatest thing at Crate and Barrel or Williams Sonoma. TJ Maxx and Homegoods has a lot of fun stuff too – for cheaper prices!

While I like “window shopping,” I don’t buy a lot of the gadgets I see, mainly because I don’t have the space. My friend and I have an apartment with a galley kitchen and little storage (albeit in a great location!).  However, I have been eyeing new cookware. Our current pans are not the best quality and kind of scratched.  Plus, with all the controversy regarding safe cooking surfaces, I wanted to make a switch.

Last weekend I was in Maine for a few days and my mom and I visited the outlets there – in the town of Kittery. I was shopping for clothes (the norm!) but then my mom spotted a Calphalon outlet. Calphalon is known for high-quality cookware (i.e. normally unaffordable for me). The manager was extremely knowledgable about Calphalon’s products and cookware in general (as he should be!). I didn’t know if I needed stainless steel, nonstick, cast iron, aluminum. We were confused! :/

What we learned, however, is that choosing cookware comes down to personal preference.

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With a few questions, the manager was able to point me in the right direction. Since I don’t sear a lot of meat/fish on the stove, he steered me away from the stainless steel pans. They were pretty though!

He then explained the difference between traditional nonstick and anodized aluminum.  Not only did the pans have a different texture (the nonstick has a gritty coating while the anodized aluminum was smooth), the nonstick is not always oven safe and the coating can break down over time. While anodized aluminum does not have a nonstick surface, it tends to hold up better over time and is suggested for seasoned cooks (I’m putting myself in this category for this purpose! Ha!).

I chose to go with infused-anodized surface. Now it was time to choose a pan or pans. While outlets have great prices in general (compared to department stores), the Calphalon prices were still a bit higher than I preferred to pay. For example, a 6″ pan was originally $125 on sale for $70. Still pricey! So as my mom and I wandered around the store, we spotted a clearance section. Through a little searching we found a 6″ and 10″ pan that were in great shape. Some of the items in clearance had some dings and dents but the ones we found looked really good.

Here’s the kicker – I bought two pans (a 6″ with a cover originally priced at $125 and a 10″ orginally priced at $160) for $29.99 each! Exciting! Plus, I received 15% off my purchase for being a AAA member. AND, even with clearance items, Calphalon offers a lifetime warranty!

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Now that I’ve probably bored you with my cookware shopping story, I wanted to share a few tips that I learned:

  • Pans shouldn’t be placed in the dishwasher. I didn’t know this! They should really be hand washed with soft sponge or cloth. Calphalon suggests the use of Bar Keepers Friend Cookware Cleaner.
  • With nonstick pans, only plastic or wooden utensils should be used to protect the surface.
  • Stainless steel and aluminum pans can be used in the oven and broiler. Nonsticks are normally safe to 500 degrees.
  • Regarding safety, the jury still seems to be out on that. Supposedly, teflon isn’t bad for us afterall however it’s recommended to replace nonstick pans that become scratched or start to chip. My take on it is to invest in good quality pans, take care of them and that’s a pretty safe bet.

In other Maine-related news, despite the chilly weather, I had two excellent meals while away. Below: my dad and I on the beach. Don’t we look cold? Smile, Dad. 🙂

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My parents and I went to Blue Sky on York Beach for lunch (to celebrate my new job – same company, new job!). It’s a swanky modern-type restaurant. I liked the decor a lot! I also loved the food. I had a pizza with meatballs, tomato and fennel..yum! My dad was even able to get a gluten-free pizza. It was a thinner crust than mine but he really enjoyed it. They have gluten-free onion rings as well. Our family gets excited for celiac-friendly places these days. It makes life so much easier. Oh, and last but not least, my mom got a lobster roll with an herbed mayo. We think the lobster was boiled then grilled. Great flavor. We will be returning.

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For dinner, my mom and I went to Katie’s Cafe in Ogunquit for dinner with my aunt and her friend. Katie’s has consistently good food and the staff is very friendly. We’ve frequented Katie’s a lot this summer/fall. The bread is baked fresh on-site daily and it is served with a garlic and olive oil dip. It’s delicious! For dinner, I ordered a salad and the special small plate of the night – lobster risotto. It was fabulous. The sauce was a tomato cream sauce and wasn’t as heavy as I expected – a nice surprise. My mom had her favorite dish – two large pieces of panko-crusted eggplant served with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and balsamic. It’s very tasty and I love the crunch! I didn’t snap a photo of everyone’s meal but my aunt chose the halibut special and her friend ordered lobster mac and cheese. Everyone was pleased with their meals.

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Ok, on to Friday Favs! How are you liking this weekly addition to my blog?

I’m going with a simple apple theme this week. These recipes are making me drool, nice job ladies!

  • Megan at Delicious Dishings made a Dutch Apple Pie this week. The crumbly topping had me at hello. I also like Megan’s dedication – she makes some complicated, time-consuming dishes. It’s very impressive! Plus, she gets brownie points for being a fellow Bostonian.
  • I have been following Tracey’s Culinary Adventures for a while now. She makes some amazing treats, and often too! Where do you find the time, Tracey? Anyway, this week she made an Apple-Cinnamon Bundt Cake. It looks moist and wonderful with a nice frosting to top it off.  Plus, Tracey has beautiful photos!
  • Jenny at Picky Palate is back on my Friday Favs with a Roasted Apples ‘n Cream Caramel Topped Brownies. Seriously delicious and creative. I love apples, chocolate and caramel – I’m sure the combo is out of this world.

I’m getting hungry, how about ya’ll? Happy Friday and happy cooking!

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