Skill a Week: Cooking with Cast Iron

Time has led to some serious attrition in my kitchen wares. I started out four years ago with some space plates/utensils my parents didn’t need, plus a nice set of glasses given as a graduation present. Over time, I’ve dropped things, lost them, snapped them, etc… now I’m down to 4 plates, for instance, and 3-4 bowls, 4-5 forks, you get the picture. That’s still probably too many, because it just allows too much to build up in the sink… The latest casualty was a large teflon pan I had, maybe 10 years old, and pretty scarred. It wasn’t non-stick anymore, and I don’t want to get cancer in my twenties.

As a replacement, I bought an $18, American-made 12-inch cast iron skillet. Probably the most fetishized piece of kitchen equipment, and also the most durable. I like the thick, heavy metal, the black color, the slightly greasy feel. I like heating it over a gas flame. It reminds me of cooking breakfast at Boy Scout camp, cast iron pan on a Coleman propane stove. Tucked in an old wood cabin in the snowy Adirondacks, playing cards, fighting the wood stove, building insane sled jumps… but that’s another story.

This skillet was supposedly pre-seasoned, but that didn’t work out so well. So I’m seasoning it myself right now. I can tell I’m making progress, although there’s a lot of work to go. I try to improve myself, and it’s nice to own something which will likewise improve with each use.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. Lots of Pam and butter before eggs. Clean the pan right after eating, when it’s still warm, by pouring some salt in it and wiping with a paper towel.
  2. Wipe the pan down after cleaning with a thin coat of vegetable oil.
  3. Put more oil in the pan and toss it in the oven whenever baking something.

I’ve got two weeks of use in and I’m expecting a fully non-stick pan in a month or two. I’ve been cooking eggs, which are the worst, anyway.


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