What We Can Learn From a Cast Iron Pan

June 29th, 2010 · 10 Comments · Dinner, Quick, Vegetarian

I bought this Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillet about seven years ago after writing a story for Real Simple about pots and pans. The 8-inch skillet costs only 17 bucks, is naturally nonstick, moves easily from stovetop to oven, has been the site of untold thousands of pancake and French toast fry-ups, and, not least, is always good for conjuring up images of Ma Ingalls in my 21st-century kitchen.

But what really sold me on the pan were the Use & Care instructions in the pamphlet. I’m paraphrasing: Wash only with hot water. Do not use abrasive sponges or cleansers. You never want to clean a cast iron pan too well. The fat and the flavor left in the pan helps it build a naturally nonstick surface.

Can I tell you how much I love Use & Care instructions that reward laziness? It’s like braising a pork shoulder — the longer you ignore the hunk of meat simmering away in that pot, the more the pork will melt off the bone. And — here’s a leap — dare I say, it’s like summer parenting? Doesn’t too much engagement with the kids, too much cruise-directing, too much kneeling on the floor and playing horsie, too much chauffeuring from camp to camp, too much playdate-planning and organizing and in general too much supermomming make for enabled, dependent, unimaginative children? Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. (more…)

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