Sunday, September 8, 2013

Cast Iron Surprise

Due to different ages, locales and family values in our childhoods Derek and I grew up much differently.  My family was poor, poorer than I realized until I was an adult making my own way really, and worked hard to conserve what we had.  Derek's family was more affluent and indulged in what we now call 'retail therapy' from time to time feeling that if something was ruined it could easily be replaced.  Some of those traits are a cause for conflict between us now and then.  And then something will come out of his mouth that is so "me" it just surprises the stuffing right out me!

Like the need for cast iron cookware.

In the months I stayed with his mom and sister, I never saw a single piece in their house to hint that this was coming.  Mostly they have kind of beat up teflon pans... So when he grabbed it up one shopping trip while I was lovingly caressing a cast iron frying pan with a wishful look in my eye, I was surprised.  Very surprised!  And then when he went on to say that every home should have cast iron frying pans and a dutch oven or two, you could have knocked me over with a feather!!  And when he agreed that not only were they the best for all around cooking but would be very handy to have if there was a time when we had to cook outside or in the fireplace they would be absolutely among the best things we'd ever invested in, I had to pinch myself and see if it was reality or if I was caught up in some freaky dream.

Well, reality it was!

4 lovely cast iron frying pans now are a part of our cookware.  They've been sitting on the counter for a few days waiting for me to get around to 'seasoning' them.  It's easy.  Like even a child could do it kind of easy.  I don't know why I hesitated and let that step in their care intimidate me... but until about 45 minutes ago I did.  Finally, though, they are in the oven getting their first baking.

Photo from
(My stubby little sausage fingers aren't that pretty!)
I started by washing them with hot soapy water and letting them dry.  Seems easy so far, huh?

(Ideally, this is the only time in the life of the pan it will ever have soap in it.)

Then I used olive oil and a paper towel to coat each pan and set them in a 350F oven for 90 minutes.  Why olive oil?  It was handy.  I looked up and read more than a few blog posts about seasoning and caring for cast iron and it seems like every single one of them called for a different oil so I'm interpreting that to mean that the fat source (bacon drippings, vegetable oil, olive oil, peanut oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, crisco, etc.) doesn't matter so much as getting something fatty on there to absorb into the iron.
These are mine sitting in the oven cooling down for the first time.

Then they sit in place and cool back to room temperature.  And I repeat the process of coating them in oil and baking for 90 minutes another time or two to have fully seasoned and ready to go cast iron pans.

It's time consuming, to be sure, but there's nothing at all difficult about it.

And it seems like the ongoing care isn't all that big of a deal either.  Most of what I've found suggests just rinsing with very hot water and drying well.  The oil in food you cook should keep it pretty well seasoned.  At our house I think that might be a true statement - I know bacon is a planned item.  And fried chicken.  And a buttery cookie/cake dessert item in one of the smaller pans.  For food bits that are stuck on, you first scour with a mixture of oil and coarse salt then rinse with hot water and dry well.

That's pretty similar to how I used to take care of my teflon pans... and they lasted forever once I quit putting dish soap in them!

Next I'm gonna get the dutch oven I've had for years seasoned and try making that heavenly crusty bread in it!

And I'm going to be on the lookout for more in thrift shops and at garage sales!!

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