Monday, February 7, 2011

Ode To A Cast Iron Skillet

It's funny the little things you start to appreciate as you age. Case in point: my cast iron skillet. I really dig my cast iron skillet. Just this morning, my little boy carefully carried in an egg from the chicken coop (yes...the dry streak may be over!) and demanded I cook it, post haste. My skillet, which lives on top of the stove, was ready for action. I flipped on the burner, cracked the egg in the skillet, scrambled it up and slid it out onto a plate for my wannabe farm boy to devour. While this sounds like a simple, everyday task, one that takes place in millions of homes every morning, I got my jollies by watching that egg slide right out of the skillet, no oil or butter required. A perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet is a beautiful thing.

I wasn't always pro-cast iron. I fought it for a long time actually. My husband wanted "cookware he could pass on to his kids" and I was clinging for dear life to my non-stick coated pans. I mean really. What kind of an inheritance is a frying pan? Wow. Thanks Mom and Dad. You died and left me a skillet? And I was instantly leary of any cookware that couldn't be tossed in the dishwasher.  But when I learned that my beloved Teflon coated pans were leaching chemical nastiness into my food and producing harmful fumes, I relented, and Lodge Cast Iron became the backbone of my kitchen.

And what harm can a non-stick pan really do, you ask? Well, the chemicals used to make pots and pans non-stick are believed to be carcinogenic, bioaccumulate in tissues over time, and persist in the environment because there is no known mechanism that can break them down. Non-stick chemicals have been linked with developmental disorders, birth defects, cancer, and have been proven highly toxic to the liver, kidneys and blood. And the fumes produced by a hot pan have been known to KILL people's pets. KILL! Can you believe it??

Will eating off of non-stick pans ruin your life? Probably not. And I'm certainly not advocating you toss all your cookware because that would just be plain silly. All I'm sayin' is that there is an AWFUL lot of research suggesting that stick-free pans can do some serious damage. So when it comes time to replace one of your pots or pans, perhaps you might choose a safer and more sustainable alternative. Some green cookware options include stainless steel, glass, ceramic, copper, silicone and cast iron. Cast iron is my personal favorite. Once seasoned, those bad boys are heavenly to work with. A few things to remember with cast iron:
  • The handles get really freakin' hot. Don't touch them.
  • Never use soap to clean your cast iron. It will ruin the seasoning. The first time I squirted dish soap on our cast iron my husband almost passed out. If you do forget, it's not the end of the world Dry it off, lube it up with vegetable oil, and stick it in the oven. You'll be re-seasoned and ready to cook in no time.
  • Stubborn messes can be cleaned by soaking or by scrubbing with a paste of water and coarse salt.

Happy Cooking!

Look Closely...She Has BACON tied to her feet!



  1. I remember cooking breakfast for your Grandma and serving she and grandpa in bed. I went to the kitchen and decided to make her cast iron skillet shiny. I scrubbed for at least a half hour using a brillo pad and those pre-soaped metal scrubbies. I got the inside all bright and shiny and gave up on the outside. I proudly marched into their bedroom to show her and I thought she was going to smack me with it. I learned then how NOT to wash a cast iron skillet!!!!

  2. Oh, your mom's story is a hoot. Like when I, a helpful child, decided to clean the wall that had all our childhood heights measured on to it. I still cry about that one. This post is great...I love my cast iron too, but don't use it often. Must get it well seasoned, as I'm still adddicted to the easy clean up of non-stick...have been in denial about the coating dangers, but this woke me up again. Thanks, as always.

  3. My husband loves cooking with our cast iron but I have never quite gotten the hang of it. Love that picture!
    I am co-hosting a new Greem Mama Blog Hop and I would be honored if you would stop by and join in!

  4. ha, love this post so much :) i'm a new follower from the green blog hop. stop over & see us green well-to-do girls sometime, thanks!!!