If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I like to cook (and bake). As such, perhaps you’ll be surprised to learn that my kitchen is missing one of those “must have” items:
A cast iron pan.
Cast iron is one of those things that seems to have a cult following. My first introduction to cast iron was in the Girl Scouts, when we used dutch ovens for all manner of campfire cooking. Sometime in college I realized that this material also came in a pan form, suitable for use in a home kitchen. I heard people waxing rhapsodic about flavors, the feel of cooking in something so authentic, and so on.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t really get it. Sure, cast-iron seemed great, but was it really that great? Also, it was expensive. And heavy, a key consideration if you move often. And you can’t use soap on it, what’s up with that?
A couple of things converted me to the idea. First, I learned that food cooked in cast iron pans often absorbs a bit of iron in the cooking process. As a female vegetarian (i.e., high potential for anemia if I’m careless), that was appealing. Second, I had a couple of really AMAZING cast-iron experiences: cornbread, and home-fried potatoes. From then on, I was quietly on the lookout for a cast iron pan to call my own.
I toyed with buying new, but I never got around to it. I kept an eye out in thrift stores, but our big local thrifts are notoriously Not Cheap, and one time I even saw a pan listed at a higher price than it would have been new!
This weekend we went to the one “cheap” thrift store in town, mainly to check out the clothing selection. But of course I had to root around in the kitchen implements. Buried under a pile of dubious looking aluminum things were a duo of cast iron pans. Affordably priced at $16 (for the pair). We snapped them right up, took them home, and got to work on seasoning with flax oil. Last night I gave the larger pan a test drive, preparing this assortment of legumes, roots, and vegetables:
Verdict: I’m officially part of the cult now, and forsee much of my disposable income going to Lodge in the near future.
In the meantime, ideas of what to cook in the baby cast-iron pan? I’m thinking adorable mini-batches of cornbread.