Getting Unstuck: Trashing your Teflon
As far back as I could remember, Teflon (AKA non-stick cookware) seemed too good to be true, and my lasting associations with the non-stick mythos were always tinged with cynicism (anyone remember the 1980s when Patricia Shroeder called Ronald Reagan the “Teflon President.” But as a kid, Teflon was everywhere and the benchmark of kitchen modernity and convenience and beyond reproach.
Now we conveniently learn (to some of us this is old news) that the polytetrafluoroethelene coating that comprises Teflon is not only a cook’s best friend, but likely carcinogenic and not quite that friendly a product in the long run. So, before I continue with a lengthy explanation of who has issued the advisory, and how dangerous cooking with Teflon-coated products actually is for you, I just want to say: Time to say goodbye to all of that nifty non-stick gear you have acquired over the years. All those scratched and scrubbed skillets that are flaking away into your eggs, along with those shiny cake-pans that do such a fine job—they all need to find a home someplace other than in your kitchen.
So, as we collectively cross our fingers and hope all that all those years of non-stick cooking doesn’t give us a mortal heartburn, it is time to find another use for your pile of non-stick gear. If you have children (as I would imagine most readers of this blog do) the Teflon muffins pans make excellent paint palates, or receptacles for sorting marbles, beans, or any other small object that your child fancies. Teflon cake pans and pie tins make great makeshift percussion instruments, and Teflon skillets and frying pans could be modified by removing the handle (if possible) and turned into saucers for potted plants. As far as I know, Teflon products cannot be recycled, as stainless steel cookware can, so your primary objective is to get them out of your kitchen, as your secondary objective is to utilize them safely and creatively. Any ideas?
Oh, and for those readers that have found themselves pan-less after their non-stick purge, I would recommend purchasing as much pre-seasoned cast iron cookware (Lodge is best in my opinion) as you could get your hands on. If cared for correctly, it performs as well as any non-stick product and will outlast anything else in your kitchen.