Cooking with Cast Iron

It seems that over the decades cooking with cast iron has had mixed reviews. I seem to recall a time where the consensus was that it was more harmful than beneficial to cook with cast iron, but alas, those days are over!

A few years ago, I got it in my head that I wanted a cast iron, stovetop griddle pan. It seemed like I was always cooking breakfast for a crowd and figured that if I had one of those cast iron griddles that covered two stove burners, I might be able to get breakfast ready more efficiently. Well, I guess I must have mentioned it often enough because for my birthday that year, ManBoy bought me one!

And so began my quest to replace my old cookware with cast iron cookware!

The griddle pan works great for things like pancakes, french toast, and grilled sandwiches. It’s also reversible! One side is smooth (for pancakes and such) and the other side has grill grooves for cooking meat. But I have found that when both sides are “seasoned”, it creates a lot of smoke when you’re cooking because the oils that create the “seasoning” on the pan burn when they come into contact with the flame from the burner.

Thus, I decided that my second piece of cast iron should be a grill pan. We love the taste of grilled food but I don’t like to stand out in the cold during winter time to cook, so I thought the grill pan would solve this issue. Honestly, the food cooked on the grill pan doesn’t taste like an outdoor barbecue, but I still like to use it to cook certain meats. The grooves allow the fat to drip off the meat so you have a leaner meal. At least that’s what I tell myself. Haha.

My next piece of cast iron cookware was a ten(ish) inch dutch oven, also gifted to me by ManBoy. I think he got me this piece because he had been reading about dutch oven cooking for camping and figured he would get it for me so that I could be the one to experiment! I haven’t actually taken it camping with us but I have experimented with it! I have done everything from baking bread to roasting chicken to frying potatoes in it. It is very versatile and I absolutely love it. In fact, I would love to get a cast iron roasting pan to bake larger loaves of bread and to cook a turkey in! Someday.

Next up is the cast iron “comal” that my mother-in-law gave me. It was one of hers from when she used to make homemade tortillas every day. It is well seasoned and has had a lot of use. But it still looks brand new! I love it and use it for making tortillas as well. And if I don’t feel like getting the griddle pan out, I make quesadillas on it (chicken quesadillas are our favorite). It’s the perfect size for them!

Last year I found a two pack cast iron skillet set with silicone grips for a great price and since I didn’t have any cast iron skillets in my cupboards, they were an absolute must-have! The set included a ten inch and a twelve-inch skillet. We love to use the twelve inch one for cast iron deep dish pizza. Oh, my goodness, it turns out so well; I’m salivating just thinking about it. I know, TMI, right? And believe it or not, it is also great for stir fry! These pans are awesome and the silicone grips are fabulous!

And lastly, thus far, is an eleven-inch skillet I picked up last summer while we were camping because, can you believe, I forgot to pack a skillet to take with us?! Thankfully we were camping somewhere where there was a general store nearby who stocked them because I’m sure I’m not the only person to have ever gone off camping without a skillet to cook on! Sheesh.

As you can see, I have acquired a nice collection of cast iron cookware. I have all of the essentials. Now, not all of my pieces are the same brand but they all serve their purpose well.

As I said before, cooking with cast iron has its benefits. They are sturdy, reliable, and the pieces are relatively inexpensive. Amazon is a great place to shop for your cast iron. Not all brands are created equal though and some brands are more pricey than others. But considering the fact that they will last forever, they are well worth whatever price you decide to pay. Switching to cast iron cookware hasn’t cost me a lot of money (especially since some were gifts!) but even if I did have to pay a lot, I would.

The most important benefit to cooking with cast iron is the fact that they fortify the food with iron. This became especially important to us when Girl2 began to display symptoms and evidence of anemia. After some research into how we could increase her iron intake, switching to cast iron seemed like a no-brainer. She still lives at home and still eats dinner with us almost every night so continuing with cast iron cooking is a must (not that I would stop anyway)!

The only negative input I have about cast iron cooking is that the pieces are heavy. I discovered that this was an issue for me when I was dealing with some inflammation in my body (symptoms of arthritis). When I was inflamed, I had a hard time picking them up and had to use both hands on all the pieces. I have since remedied my inflammation issues with Moringa seeds and powder (but that’s another post!) and am no longer struggling with the weight of the pans.

And even though they add weight to our camping gear, I still take a piece or two with us when we go camping. They withstand the heat from a campfire flame very well and have simply become my most trusted cookware.

If you’ve never cooked with cast iron before, you might want to pick up a small skillet and give it a try. If you do, come back and let me know what you think!

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For the Love of Food

I am a Foodie by birth. Both of my grandmothers were Foodies and my momma was a Foodie, so really, I didn’t have a choice but to be one too!

My fraternal grandma had nine children so I think that she became a Foodie out of necessity. When I was small, three of her children still lived at home and I remember her always being in the kitchen. She would get up early in the morning to make breakfast for my grandfather (which usually involved homemade flour tortillas) and to prepare and pack his lunch for the day. Then when the children (teens by this time) would get up, she would make breakfast for them. After they would go to school, grandma would do some cleaning and various other chores, watch a “novella” or two, then by late afternoon she would be back in the kitchen preparing dinner. By the time the dishes were washed and put away and everyone had eaten their dessert (usually a bowl of ice cream) it would be “late” at night.

Even as I got older, grandma was always in the kitchen. Everyone knew that if you were going to her house for a visit, you had better make sure you were hungry. And even if you weren’t, you’d better be prepared to eat anyway! I can’t recall ever going to her house and not eating while I was there.

My maternal grandma, I believe, was a Foodie by choice. She simply loved food and loved cooking. After their children were grown, my grandparents opened a restaurant in northern California. I’m not sure how long they had the restaurant (it was before I was born) but I remember hearing stories about it. And when Gram spoke about it, she did so with fondness. “It was hard work,” she would say. “But we met some good people along the way.”

 

After my grandfather passed away, Gram began working in a school cafeteria. She eventually became the head “lunch lady” and worked directly with the school nutritionist to create delicious, healthy meals. When I was thirteen I was able to go to work with her during the Summer School program and help out in the kitchen. I was amazed at how much food they had to prepare! And even more amazing was the fact that they made almost everything from scratch. That same summer Gram was asked to cook for a church family camp that was taking place at one of the local lakes. She took me along to help. I learned a lot that summer and I treasure the time I spent with her.

Even after retirement, Gram continued her kitchen activities. Every year for Christmas she would bake dozens upon dozens of various kinds of cookies and goodies. Then she would divide them into tins and containers she had collected throughout the year and every household in her family (along with many of her friends) would receive a container full of her delicious creations. To this day, at Christmas time, my (adult) children still ask me to make Great-Grams Molasses Crinkles! (I will share the recipe in another post).

Just before she passed away, Gram gave me her recipe cards. Every so often I take them out and look through them just to feel the nearness of her spirit.

 

As for my momma, well, she was a Foodie for Love’s sake. Meaning, she cooked because she loved to and because everything she prepared was done so with love. I think that my being a Foodie stems mostly from the comfort of the love that she so generously poured into everything she did.

My passion for cooking encompasses all three of these wonderful women. I have cooked out of necessity, I have owned my own cafe, baking is my favorite, nutrition plays an important role in my cooking (sometimes) and I put a heaping amount of love into everything I do.

I am proud to be a Foodie.

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