I'm probably not what you'd call a foodie, but I enjoy cooking and like having the right tools for the job. I'm not one to pay much attention to brand names, shiny chrome or full color brochures; functionality and price are my two main purchase factors.
I have a decent stable of cookware, but some is wearing out, I lack a few items an sometimes become cramped. Currently at my disposal, I have a Lodge 8 inch skillet and 3 qt. dutch/combo cooker (the lid doubles as a shallow skillet) as well as a Camp Chef 12 inch skillet and 5 qt. camp dutch (has legs). Honestly, I prefer the Camp Chef gear. I also have an inherited teflon/aluminum Farberware set I relegate to making grilled cheese, egg cheese combinations or boiling water. Finally, I have a reasonably nice Revere stainless steel set I've been using for at least a decade. It's not the thin, stamped Revere Ware kit with bakelite handles and useless electroplated copper bottom, but rather heavy 18/10 steel with riveted handles and a thick copper slab on the bottom. The set includes the prerequisite 10 and 8 inch skillets, 5 qt. boiler and Lg. & small sauce pans, all with stainless lids.
The Revere set has been a real workhorse for me over the years, but is starting to wear largely due to my own stupidity. I completely forgot that these copper bottomed pans are not dishwasher safe. I discontinued putting them in the dishwasher, but the seam where the copper is fused to the stainless is slowly corroding. They all seem to still heat evenly, but stainless scrubbies frequently get snagged in the seam and I figure it's only a matter of time before they give up.
I also have a single Calphalon anodized "Every Day" skillet that heats beautifully and otherwise is fantastic *on paper*, but is an absolute nightmare to clean no matter how careful I am to pre-heat it before adding fat/food.
I purchased a Lincoln (now Vollrath) Optio 12 inch skillet at Wasserstrom's, our local restaurant supply place and couldn't be happier with it. It has a nice thick 7mm aluminum slab bottom that heats quite evenly. This $30 fry pan has become my "go to" skillet. That the aluminum stops at the edges is a non-issue to me, since I nor anyone else I've ever seen cooks on the side walls.
Since I absolutely loathe teflon cookware and the prerequisite plastic tools for anything but a quick grilled cheese, I've been thinking about supplementing my cook set with a few smaller fry pans and a saute pan from the Optio line for everyday use and perhaps a few general Aluminum clad SS sauce pans for reactive foods and forgiving sauces. This would allow me to retire the Revere set or at least relegate it to secondary duty.
Since I can't justify tin lined copper, I though a few heavy, raw aluminum, tapered saucepans would fit the bill when I need better control and even heating all the way up the sides of the pan. I have no qualms with aluminum cookware and do not wish to debate the junk science used in an attempt to link Alzheimers to the material.
I'm also intrigued by carbon steel cookware. My understanding is CS skillets are somewhere between cast iron and copper cookware when it comes to heat capacity and responsiveness (depending on the thickness) and are equally non-stick (if not better than) well seasoned cast iron. I'm also attracted to the idea of well seasoned cookware that doesn't need to be washed (often) since as an engineer, essentially, I'm lazy.
I suppose the point to the above diatribe is I'm fleshing out the validity of my ideas and am soliciting feedback about the merits of various cookware materials. As I stated in the beginning, I could care less how shiny my cookware or what cache it's name carries. It just needs to do the job unfailingly on my limited budget. I regard stains, patina and scratches as battle scars, not blemishes.
Thanks for your thoughts.