We write this with misty eyes: a moving truck just arrived from the recently-sold cabin where we spent vacations as a child. The truck was filled with wonderful things from our past: grandma's quilts, our high chair, naughty playing cards from the 30s, and some great cookware.
Mom cooked on these two pieces of cast iron cookware since as far back as we can remember.
A well-seasoned piece of cast-iron cookware is one of the most valuable pieces of equipment you can have in your kitchen.
The secret of cast iron is in the thick metal and the seasoning. The thickness of iron allows the pan to hold heat very evenly and proper seasoning makes it non-stick without teflon.
Seasoning is easy ritual that gives you a feeling of being a craftsperson, working the pan to perfection. Here are some simple instructions. For the instant-gratification types, you can buy pre-seasoned cast-iron pans called Lodge Logic. All you need to do is properly care for the pan by lightly rinsing it out with soapy water and drying immediately (or simply wiping it out with a paper towel if you use it at least once a week.)
Cooking with cast-iron is extremely versatile. The heat in the pans holds so well, that it is ideal for searing meat, making pressed sandwiches, and flipping pancakes. Our favorite thing to make in a cast-iron skillet is what we called growing up "Big Pancake," otherwise known as a Dutch Baby.
Here's mom's recipe:
Makes 2 large pancakes, 4-6 servings each
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 425º.
Whisk eggs, milk, flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Divide butter between two 9 or 10" cast iron skillets.
Place in oven until butter melts.
Remove pans, swirl butter to coat sides.
Divide batter between pans.
Bake on lowest rack until golden brown, set on center rack and allow to bake until sides rise high above the sides of the pans, 12-15 minutes.
Cut into wedges and serve with dusting of sugar, berries and a squirt of lemon juice, or just some maple syrup.
For more recipes, take a look at Cast Iron Cooking by A.D. Livingston. skgr