As a child of the 70s I grew up with a mom who swore by her electric fry pan. She had one that was a lovely shade of harvest gold. You all know the kind I mean, right? Teflon was king and she made everything from boiled onions at Thanksgiving to our weekly rotation of American Chop Suey in that baby.
When I got married (the first time) she told me I also needed an electric fry pan. So I registered for one and it was a big heavy Farberware thing, I think. I never used it. It was cumbersome and awkward and I had skillets that were much easier to use. Teflon still ruled but by the time I married Dale we were hearing rumors that maybe Teflon wasn’t such a good thing. I continued to use it but I felt guilty about it.
Then. Oh, then. We became Civil War reenactors and everyone in the camp used cast iron. I had never cooked with cast iron before but we picked up a cast iron Dutch Oven at a swap meet and I started using it for stews and chilis. Soon after that I got a couple of cast iron fry pans. And then, I fell in love with the cast iron. It was non stick without using chemicals. It was period correct and easy to care for and so heavy that lifting it raised my heart rate. Silly me, though, I only used it when we were reenacting.
One winter night, after we had been reenacting for a couple of seasons, Dale and I were in the kitchen and reminiscing about camp life and talking about how we missed it. And suddenly inspiration struck and I had him go out to the garage and pull out my camp kitchen box and get my cast iron skillet. I put it on the stove and I melted some butter and I fried us up a steak and it was the best steak ever.
That cast iron skillet has lived in our kitchen ever since. I use it for steaks and fried chicken, for sauteing mushrooms and peppers and onions, for cooking bacon and pineapple upside down cake and just about anything else that gets cooked on top of the stove and even for things that get cooked in the oven. It’s easy to clean (I use lots of hot water and a Pampered Chef scraper to get rid of any leftover food and then I stick it back on the burner and heat it up until all that water evaporates then I hit it with a shot of cooking spray and I’m done) and I feel good about cooking food for my family in a pan that boosts their iron intake rather than, oh, giving them cancer.
Cast iron cookware is a very good thing.