When the Old Way Is Better

Every once in a while, I’m struck by how an old or older “technology” really is better than something newer and allegedly better.

Take, for example, a cast iron fry pan.

pan
Old, new, can’t tell with one of these.

I never owned one until very recently. Why? Well, because this new Teflon non-stick coating was so much better. Granted, I have to throw out a non-stick pan the moment the coating started to get scratched as its toxic to ingest, but it was still so much better, right?

Except, maybe it’s not.

I was feeling wasteful at having to toss out pans if the coating got scratched. I was also feeling a bit nervous about cooking on a toxic surface, so I tried the next greatest new thing. The ceramic pan. Except, that scratches, too. And yes, I use only plastic utensils on the pans, which, I’m not entirely sure if that’s  great choice either, as plastic does bad things at higher temps.

So, I was hanging out watching Netflix when an old cooking show came on and the host was talking about how amazing cast iron is. I ignored it, but the thought was percolating back there for some time. So, when I was looking at having to toss yet another scratched pan, I decided to try the cast iron.

Holy wow, this really is a weapon. And here, I thought Disney was just teasing with Rapunzel using it as a weapon. They weren’t. The basic cast iron 12 inch skillet I bought weighs over seventeen pounds. It was approximate seventeen dollars, which makes me wonder if these are sold by the pound. But I digress.

rapunzel
Yes, these really can be used as a weapon.

There are some pros and also some cons to our new pan.

Pros

  1. This sucker is going to last a lifetime with proper care
  2. It does an amazing job browning food.
  3. It goes directly from stove top into the oven. This means no extra pans to clean when you need to say, brown steaks, then finish them in the oven.
  4. It cooks faster than other pans. I add this as a pro because it will be in the long run. Right now, I have to relearn all my cook times for things.
  5. It’s cast iron. Nothing toxic getting into my food.
  6. I don’t think you can scratch it. Time will tell on this.
proscons
I always feel like this.

Cons

  1. Clean-up. You can’t pop this into the dishwasher. After it cools, you have to scrape all the particulate off of it, wash it, then completely dry it. Once that’s done, you have to rub a bit of cooking oil over it to protect it. Yeah, kind of a pain.
  2. It’s heavy. As in, two handed heavy when popping it into the stove. Not a con in and of itself, except for the fact that…
  3. It’s hot. There is nowhere on the pan you can touch without your oven mitts. Mine are silicon because this is one thing new technology has over the old: no spots on my silicone gloves where I can still get burned even while wearing them. It’s also easy to wash off anything that I might’ve spilled on them

 

For the moment, the pros are outweighing the cons. I’ll see if I’m still using it in a year.

How about you? Have you ever cooked with cast iron? Do you like it? What are your thoughts on non-stick pans? Any other kids of pans you can recommend?

The Lunch Lady is a Chemical Engineer

No, I’m not joking. The lunch lady at my daughter’s school is, indeed, a chemical engineer.

ChemE1

I was shocked. Chemical engineering is hard. Damn hard. She graduated from a good school. Had a terrific job at a Fortune 100 company. Then, she and her husband (who is also an engineer) decided to have kids. She went back to work after their first child was born, but she didn’t go back after their second child and has no intention of returning to her old job.

Why?

She can’t work and do all of the things she needs to do with kids. That includes finding care for them during the multitude of school holidays and over the summer, getting them to and from school (school by us starts after most people have to be at work, and gets out long before most people are home), and getting them to the myriad of activities that require a day time chauffeur.

chemE2

My first thought was what a waste of human capital.

She is smart and well-educated. She was doing some cool work on batteries I barely understand, and there is so much more she could have contributed.

But an antiquated education system designed during an era when women didn’t work outside of the house has created a paradigm where a chemical engineer puts aside four years of grueling college work and another six years of industry experience to serve lunches and chauffeur kids around.

Think about that for a moment. Doesn’t it feel like such a waste?

Yet, I am starting to understand as I struggle to find .

Our VP of HR hires a nanny during the summer even though her kids are all in elementary school. As she said, it was the only way to get them to all of the soccer camps, ballet camps, and various other summer activities that suburban children are expected to attend or risk “falling behind”.

Yeah, already worried about falling behind in elementary school. Because if all the other kids are in soccer camp and yours isn’t…  You get the idea.

I have no idea what a good solution to this is. I like to delude myself and think that there are people out there working on it, but I fear there aren’t.

ChemE3

That for some reason we’re content with this waste of human potential. I’m not even sure why we’re okay with it, just that we seem to be.

Maybe I’m just more aware of it as out little ones become school-age. I’m already seeing the issues as we have to cart DD1 to dance class, tumbling, or swim lessons. I recently received the school schedule, and counted 21 days off that the kids have that do not correspond to a normal work schedule. So, yeah, gotta find some kind of care for those 21 days.

I wish there was a magical place I could drop my kids off in the morning, pick them up there in the afternoon, on every day I have to work. They would be educated, get the activities that they need, and the socialization. This magical place sends me a monthly bill, and all is well.

I suppose we all have our dreams.

 

If you have kids, how do you handle all of the activities, especially if they are during work hours? Any kid chauffeur services I’m not aware of?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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