Friday, February 22, 2013

Mama Making Dinner...With Cast Iron

I read a lot, even on my crazy busy schedule. I often read magazines and have many subscriptions because I don't have to commit to a whole book; I can read an entire article and come back to it when I have time to read another. Recently I've noticed many articles about cooking with cast iron. Um, hello, where have they been?

Specialty Cookware
small Lodge cast iron frying pans used to cook and serve
I love love love my cast iron! My mom cooked with cast iron and I learned early to appreciate the difference.

The weight of those pots and pans testifies to its durability. Pick one up and you know why they are found in antique stores in working condition a hundred or more years old.

A well-seasoned piece of cast iron was non-stick way before Teflon was introduced and is always easy to clean as long as you don't let it sit too long. Don't do that anyway because if you have to soak your cast iron cookware, that wonderful black coat may start to peel, or even worse...rust!

When cooking with cast iron, it heats evenly so you don't have some of your food cooking faster. If you've ever used a cheap frying pan, you know what I mean. It warps slightly and only heats where it makes direct contact with the eye on the stove.

Not cast iron. The entire pan will heat and toward the end of cooking, you can even cut off the stove because the iron will stay hot for quite a while. Which  makes it great for serving, too! It keeps the food warm! And a cast iron griddle stretched across two eyes on the stove will cook just as well in the center as it does on the ends.

Frying pans are the most common piece of cast iron in modern kitchens, but a cast iron dutch oven is a wonderful thing! Use it on the stovetop for a big pot of stew or chili, or in the oven to roast a chicken, or over a campfire to cook, well, just about anything!

Better yet, start a recipe on the stove and move it to the oven! Cast iron is great for that! I love making fritattas in cast iron because I can cook the veggies on the stove, pour in the eggs, and move it to the oven. Make a casserole by cooking rice, broccoli, and shredded carrots on the stove, then cover with cheese and bread crumbs and move to the oven to finish!

I have two small cast iron frying pans that I really love. One is just the right size for a single serving eggs or an omelet. The other is even smaller and makes a great substitute for a ramekin in the oven. Perfect for desert for one or two people.

Loaf Pan
Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron loaf pan
I don't have any cast iron bakeware but I would love to get some loaf pans for my homemade sourdough bread and I'm not sure what happened to my cornbread pan that made corn cob shaped corn muffins. Muffin pans would be nice too!

As a matter of fact, now that I've written this I've started thinking about adding to my collection of cast iron. Maybe it's about time for a trip to my favorite antique/junk shop. Ye Olde Fashioned Junque Shop is a great little place about twenty minutes away, full of treasures of all kinds, and I know there is lots of cast iron just inside the door on the right. Hmmmm...

Do you use cast iron? What's your favorite thing about cooking with cast iron?

Or if not, have you thought about trying it? You won't go back, I promise! Buy a pre-seasoned frying pan (it's the black coating) and give it a try!

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