Thursday, April 19, 2012

Things I love Thursday: My cast iron cookware.

I'm going to try out this Things I love Thursday thing for a while and see if it makes posting on Thursdays an easy task. I'm on my own in this, as in I'm not joining some other blog co-op with it, since it was just a random idea I came up with. Though, I don't think I made it up, there's probably tons of other bloggers doing the same thing out there. I just love alliteration, really. You probably know that by now.

This could probably be more appropriately called "Things I really like Thursday" but it doesn't quite have the same ring.

This week I want to tell you about my cast iron pots and pans. Why? Because I love them.
In my sunny living room for a photo shoot
Why do I love them? Ah, let me count the ways...or tell you the reasons.

I get amazing results when it comes to food quality. Cast irons are fabulous for browning meats, sauteing vegetables or making sauces. I can make the most delicious home fries and hash browns with my pan. They hold heat like nobody's business and keep your food hot while you wait for your husband to wrap up his projects and come to dinner. And food cooked in cast iron pots and pans just tastes better. It has some magical taste properties that it adds to each dish, making it yummier than food cooked in a regular pan.

It's indestructible. You can use metal spatulas, knives, spoons, forks, you name it on these guys. All those tools that if you even hover one above a non-stick tefflon pan, wears and scratches the surface before your very eyes. I've scratched up the seasoning of my cast iron frying pan tons of times. All it needs is a little swipe of oil and some time in the oven and it's back to its good as new self.

The best set of pans a girl could wish for

It's non-stick. Who needs that tefflon crap? I don't even know if I'm spelling it right, but I started my married life with a full set of pots and pans in that tefflon-coated line and all of them are scratched to death. Some have been thrown away in their unusable-ness. (Turns out, they don't withstand oil fires very well, either.) My cast irons, have been with me for about 3 years now. I got them all used or free, (with the exception of our wok, which I bought for John as a Christmas present.)

I've brought them camping and I've set them on fire, put them in the oven; I've used them as hammers and pounders, you can even use them as a weapon like the girl from Tangled does. I loved that!

This is reverting to the indestructable thing again. Where was I?

Ah, non-stick. So long as you keep them in good shape (and trust me, it's not hard) these things will release your eggs, crepes, etc. perfectly every time.

Which leads me to the fact that they are very easy to take care of. I'm lazy. I frequently go days without washing my pans, even when they really should have. It's easier when you do it right away, but even if you slack off, it's not too bad. You can take comfort in the fact that while you might take off some of your seasoned coat while you scrub with all your might, you'll still have a pan when you're done. And you can always put a new coat on.

Part of the ease in caring for cast iron is that it doesn't need soap. Just hot water and a good scrub. Then I dry it on the stove and wipe it down with an oiled rag. Good as new for the next go. And if you make sure to wash it right after your done using it then it hardly even needs a scrub, more like a swish.

Even when you get your pot super old, dusty, rusty and worn it's still good!


Good as new. Not bad for a free pot.

Cast iron also keeps you strong. When your frying pan weighs five pounds, you get a work out even when you cook! Carrying an eight pound wok FULL of food to the table builds your muscles big time. Add to that the fact that cast iron actually imparts some iron to your food every time you cook with it. Iron is a very necessary mineral to keep your blood working. Lack of it can lead to anemia and fatigue. Despite the fact that I rarely eat red meat I've been told multiple times that my blood's iron levels are absolutely fantastic. This is to the girl who was once diagnosed as "slightly anemic." Actually, that iron thing might be the reason behind why food cooked in cast iron tastes so good...

The wondrous weighty workable wok
When I was reading Nourishing Traditions, the author mentioned that "non-organic" iron was bad for the body. Which made me worried for a little bit that she didn't approve of cast iron cook ware. But then in the "recommended equipment" section she lists cast iron pots and pans as a great alternative to aluminum or non-stick cookware. So no need to worry! It's Sally Fallon Approved!

If you're interested in cast iron, ask around or check out some thrift stores. I've found that people frequently have them laying about and are willing to part with them because they fail to see the value, or like my mother in law, they simply collect them because they can't get over the value. Even if you end up buying one new, you can be sure that it's a great investment. I mean they'll last you forever, your great grandkids might end up using them.

I've grabbed up a few cool cast iron pans that I don't even know what to do with. Like this heart pan.

Too bad I hate Valentine's day
Cute, yeah? It was a dollar at our thrift store and even though I don't see my self using it often, it still makes a nice country kitchen kind of decoration. (You know, for when I have a country kitchen.)

Here's a link to a good guide on seasoning and general care. This is more or less how I do it, but if you look around you'll find everyone has their own little quirks; some people suggest a tiny bit of soap, others cringe at the thought. Some people won't even use water, preferring to burn off food matter. Some people are picky about what kind of oil they wipe in their pans. Do what works for you.

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