I’m A Cast Iron Cook

Cast Iron CookingI started married life with a brand new set of wonderful stainless steel pots and pans — a wedding gift from my aunt. I loved them in all their shiny glory, and we continue to use the saucepans. Then one day my new husband told me a cast iron tale — probably right after he declared us a ‘butter only’ family (the two seem to go hand in hand). I purchased a Lodge cast iron skillet for him (the one up there in the middle) and we have been using it ever since (16 years and counting). 

Over time, additional cast iron has been added to our collection. And I’ll never go back. As it turns out, many of you feel the same way! I asked Farmgirl Follies Facebook fans about their cookware preferences, and a whopping 70% use cast iron, several exclusively. I understand completely …

A well-seasoned cast iron skillet is a non-stick skillet. It heats evenly and will last forever if you take proper care of it. It goes easily from stove to oven to campfire, and even to your grill. Sure, those big skillets can be heavy and awkward — just think of it as muscle-building in the comfort of your kitchen! Everyone appreciates a strong and sturdy physique, whether we’re talking cookware or cooks, right?! And cast iron care is quite simple — you just need to remember a couple of quick tips:

Never, never, ever:

  • Never use soap
  • Never use harsh abrasives like steel wool

Soap and harsh scrubbing will remove the seasoning in your cast iron skillet. Most pans are pre-seasoned these days, and every time you cook you’re adding another layer. It’s what makes your pan better than ever with each use, and you don’t want to scrub away your kitchen’s history!

Boil water in a cast iron skillet to remove stuck on bits.

  • Stuck on grime? Boil water in the skillet, then drain, dry, and apply a light coat of oil
  • Still stuck on grime? Use a stiff, non-metal brush to gently scrub the pan with a paste of kosher salt and water. Rinse, dry, and apply a light coat of oil

Scrub with salt, apply a light coat of oil.

Think water, kosher salt, stiff brush, and heat when your skillet needs a good cleaning.
My grill pan gets bits of meat stuck in the grooves every time I use it. Sometimes a good sponge scrubbing works, sometimes I have to sprinkle course salt in the pan, add a little water and scrub just a bit harder. Then I boil away the last of the bits, drain and dry. The final step, always, is a light coat of oil. If you wash your pan without applying oil it could rust. Bye, bye seasoning!

Griswold cast iron was very popular in its heyday, and it continues to be very collectible. I haven’t purchased a Griswold relic — they can be pricey! I do, however, love my Lodge cast iron skillets. And my Lodge Dutch oven? It simmers most of my soups, and it has accompanied us on numerous camping trips. The Lodge company’s history began in 1896 when Joseph Lodge started the Blacklock Foundry in South Pittsburg, Tennessee. The foundry burned in 1910, and several months later was reestablished as the Lodge Manufacturing Company. Read more about the company’s rich history, here. Truth be told, maybe that’s why I love cast iron so much …

Cast iron cookwareNot only is cast iron truly wonderful to cook with, but it has a rich history and these skillets are made in America. Now that’s something to celebrate! The kids use the small skillets to cook eggs for breakfast. The itty bitty tiny skillets are perfect for melting butter to drizzle over popcorn. The big skillet has been used for everything — from sauteed veggies to searing large chunks of beef to baking frittatas. These pans will cook anything, anywhere … forever, or so it seems. I can’t think of a better investment for my kitchen — or wherever it is I happen to be cooking.

Give cast iron a try … if for no other reason than you’re cooking up a bit of history. How many of our grandmothers made eggs in cast iron skillets? I know mine did! And I have a very clear memory of her cooking morel mushrooms in one, too! If you’re lucky enough to have a cast iron skillet passed down from another generation, dust it off, season it well and start sizzling. You’ll love it!

Here’s a tasty Cornbread and Sausage Skillet Bake recipe. And be sure to try Beef and Guinness Stew with Skillet Bread. For more ideas, check out my Cast Iron Cooking board on Pinterest!

 

Go exploring! You may enjoy these previous posts.

7 Comments

  • comment-avatar
    Ellie k January 13, 2015 (9:56 pm)

    I am 70 years old and have my Mothers iron skillet, it has fried many a chickens, steak and made many gallons of gravy, it will go to my daughter soon. My Mother taught my daughter to make gravy in this skillet. My Daughter just got a new induction smooth top stove, cast iron is one of the pans that are recommended to use on it.

    • comment-avatar
      Jennifer Kiko January 27, 2015 (1:15 pm)

      Oh, just think of how many meals that skillet has cooked. Wow. What a family treasure!!

  • comment-avatar
    Marilyn January 15, 2015 (11:40 am)

    You’re right! The absolute best thing to bake cornbread in is a sizzling cast iron skillet. The beautiful golden brown crust you get cannot be matched in any other pan. I have one Griswold that was my grandmother’s, a couple Lodge, and one I don’t know what skillets (#9 is the only stamp on it) and that’s the only one I’d be willing to trade for its weight in gold. LOL – the rest of them I’m keeping. I’ve got a bean pot (grandma called it that because it has no feet) and a couple dutch ovens, and a griddle pan. Love, Love, Love cast iron!

    • comment-avatar
      Jennifer Kiko January 27, 2015 (1:15 pm)

      Some day I’d like to own a Griswold, Marilyn! I just need to shell out the bucks. Those antique dealers seem to know how wonderful they are! 😉

  • comment-avatar
    tracy b January 16, 2015 (3:56 pm)

    I love to cook in my cast iron skillets. Cornbread and Pineapple Upside Down Cake are my two favorites.

    • comment-avatar
      Jennifer Kiko January 27, 2015 (1:14 pm)

      Mmm. Pineapple Upside Down Cake … hmmm… supper?!

  • comment-avatar
    rebekah January 20, 2015 (7:01 pm)

    No better bacon than that cooked in my cast iron skillet surrounded by a forest!