The Cast Iron Skillet

I’m not shy about admitting that I often don’t put my all into things I do, especially around the home. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone – not even me – that I don’t own a cast iron skillet.

Yet, when I think about it, I wonder why not.

My mother had one. I think she picked it up at a church rummage sale. When I was twelve or so and she started putting herself through school again, I used to cook our dinners with it. Four foot ten with forearms of BOSS, apparently. (Let me just say, here, that my cooking mostly consisted of a meal in a box, which only needed an application of ground beef or a can of tuna to complete it.) I’m assuming Mom still has the skillet; when I moved to Colorado to attend college, it did not come with me, and I never replaced it.

Until now.

Today, the kidlets and I packed up and trucked over to ACE Hardware. I’ve always liked hardware stores. They’re all-purpose but infinitely less annoying than a Target or a Wal-Mart. They’re also very tiny, so people, keep a good grip on the one-year-old’s hand, or else she’s going to be pawing through that bin of stained glass candle cups so conveniently placed on the floor before you can say, “No touchie!”

Anyway, kudos to my local ACE. Two employees said hi and asked how I was doing, and nobody gave the five-year-old carrying an eighteen-inch stormtrooper a second glance. A very nice young man pointed out the cast iron skillets to me, and stayed nearby to make sure I didn’t need anything else (I did, of course – this one does shame me to admit, but I didn’t own a meat thermometer, either. *shame face*). And this is cute: At the checkout, the lady took a look at my shiny new 12″ skillet and cheapo thermometer – I chose not to go digital – and asked, “Making a roast?”

“Nope. Steak,” I said. But then, because I do have this nervous talking thing, I had to be honest: “At least, that’s the plan. Not sure how it’s gonna work.”

And she laughed. Nicely. “Good luck!”

Yup. I like me my ACE.

cast iron skillet

My new 12″ cast iron skillet. So shiny! I’m looking forward to making some fantastic messes with you, just as long as we don’t set the house on fire.

So now that I have the skillet home, I’m following Mr. Brown’s instructions to season it. I’ve washed it in warm, soapy water with a paper towel, coated it with canola oil, and am baking it in a 350-degree oven for one hour.

Here’s an extra thought for all of us geniuses out there: Don’t do this in the winter. Wait for a time when it’s possible to open every window in your home, and maybe even have a few fans on. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think hot oil smells all that nice. And smelling it for an hour is a bit much. Fortunately, it’s April and I’ve been able to repair the damage, but if you’re like me and have never done this before, you’re welcome.

When it’s done, I will cover it with a clean, dry paper towel and store it . . . somewhere.

Oh, yeah. My kitchen? Full to bursting with years of accumulated cookware, half of which we don’t even use. Part of this journey will be figuring out how to streamline my workstation. But for now, I feel a lot of potential in this slick, black, heavy, monstrosity of a pan. I look forward to a long and rewarding friendship.

4 thoughts on “The Cast Iron Skillet

  1. I am a fan of cast iron. I used to have a dutch oven that made wonderful food. But some crazy ex-friend of mine dumped it in a cold mountain stream on our last camping trip and ruined it. It rusted and no matter what I did it would not clean up. I see so many before and after pics of cast iron, but not much on how they got it that way or how they keep it that. I hope that you will share both what does and even what doesn’t work to keep it clean. Good luck on your new blog. Love the peas :-)

    • Oh, Jillian, horrible! That’s a shame.

      I appreciate your encouragement to document my experiences. I’m following Mr. Brown’s further instructions on cleaning and care for my skillet. Notably, that dishwashers, scrubbies, and (we now know) mountain streams are B.A.D. for the iron.

      To clean the skillet, do not wash. Add more vegetable oil and wipe clean. To get rid of tougher spots, add a tablespoon of kosher salt and swirl it around with a paper towel. Wipe off excess oil, cover with a clean, dry paper towel, and store.

      This seems to be working all right, but I do admit I’m looking at it a little askance, and I’m not sure I actually have gotten off all the food. I’ll be keeping a close eye on that sucker!

  2. LOL well now…that sounds like and adventure for sure! Good luck with the new utensil!

    I’ll be honest, this is NOT what I expected when I heard you were putting together a blog! this is going to be a fun adventure!

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