5.19.2007

No Frills Kitchen

This New York Times article has good tips on saving money when stocking a kitchen. Personally, I have an odds-and-ends kitchen, stocked with hand-me-downs from my mother, my grandmother, and some great stainless steel pots from the local discount store, plus whatever my roommates own or previous roommates have left. It was also a really cheap way to stock a kitchen, although it doesn't look nearly as nice as the photo accompanying the Times article.

I was surprised that they recommended aluminum pans. I thought they were bad for you for some reason--a not-quite-proven connection to Alzheimer's, perhaps? Ah, here we go. Upshot?
"The overwhelming medical and scientific opinion is that the findings outlined above do not convincingly demonstrate a causal relationship between aluminium and Alzheimer's disease, and that no useful medical or public health recommendations can be made, at least at present."

"Certain aluminum compounds have been found to be an important component of the neurological damage characteristics of Alzheimer's Disease (AD). Much research over the last decade has focused on the role of aluminum in the development of this disease. At this point, its role is still not clearly defined. Since AD is a chronic disease which may take a long time to develop, long-term exposure is the most important measure of intake. Long-term exposure is easiest to estimate for drinking water exposures. Epidemiological studies attempting to link AD with exposures in drinking water have been inconclusive and contradictory. Thus, the significance of increased aluminum intake with regard to onset of AD has not been determined."
Everyone agrees, though, that aluminum (or aluminium, depending on which side of the pond you live) only leeches into food from aluminum pans if you're cooking highly acidic foods such as fruit or tomatoes. (Tomatoes are fruit, for those who are as picky as I am. I know that. But we think of them as vegetables. So be it.)

One article I read recommended not storing tomato and other acidic things using aluminum foil. I can second that recommendation, since I have observed that tomato-sauce-covered foods like lasagne actually make holes in the aluminum foil. I'm not sure what happens to the foil that disappears and is replaced by a hole, but it always freaks me out just a little. (Okay, so the acid from the tomato sauce eats through the aluminum, but where does the aluminum-which-may-no-longer-be-aluminum go? Into the air? The food? Anyone who took more than six weeks of chemistry can feel free to enlighten me here.)