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Cast Iron Cookware

Worth a Mention in Your Will

Cast iron cookware has been so treasured for many generations, some women left specific instructions in their will for the care of their cookware.

Without a doubt, the best wedding present we received was a large cast iron skillet. My sister-in-law said, “I wanted it big enough so that you could cook a whole chicken.” It’s so heavy, I have to use both hands to lift it. After 30+ years of marriage, it has obtained a smooth, shiny black patina and I love my cast iron skillet.

 

My grandmother used her cast iron pan to wilt lettuce. Chunks of leftover bacon, diced onion and garden-grown lettuce that she and I had picked that morning, stirred in re-heated bacon grease. I’ve never tasted anything like it since.

My parents were extremely picky about their cast iron. No soapy dishwater, ever. Corn bread sticks cooked in the iron mold were my father’s favorite, crispy on the outside, moist and steaming on the inside. I liked mine piled high with butter. Nothing cooks cornbread better than a cast iron skillet. Cast iron heats slowly, cooks food evenly and is a superior conductor of heat. It has been used for centuries.

Englishman Joseph Lodge first settled in the town of South Pittsburgh, Tennessee in 1896 where he opened his foundry. Early pots and kettles were made by pouring molten iron into a sand mold. Today the foundry continues to create cookware using a secret metal formula, upholding a standard for cookware not found anywhere else. Their skillets, Dutch ovens, kettles, grill pans, and griddles are sold and used all over the world. This versatile cookware can be used over campfires, on stove-tops, and in ovens.

Are you treating your cast iron cookware right?

Use baking soda and a nylon scrub brush to clean. No soaking, harsh chemicals or soapy water to wash your cast iron, and re-oil after every use. (Only mild dish soap, if necessary) Sturdy, metal spatulas or serving spoons work best. Always pre-heat before adding the food.

Recipe

Here’s a recipe for corn sticks from A SKILLET FULL: Traditional Southern Lodge Cast Iron Recipes & Memories, compiled by the South Pittsburgh Tennessee Historic Preservation Society.

CORNSTICKS

1 tablespoon shortening for greasing pan

1 tablespoon shortening for batter, melted

1 1/2 cups white cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 egg

1 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup water

Grease corn-stick pans with shortening, place in oven and heat while oven preheats to 450 degrees. Mix cornmeal, flour, salt, soda, and baking powder. Then add egg and buttermilk and beat with spoon. Add melted shortening and enough water to make a thin batter. Remove cornstick pan or pans from oven (be sure that pans are very hot) and fill each stick 2/3 full. Bake until slightly brown on top, about 15 minutes. Makes about 15 cornsticks. Thin batter, hot cast iron pans, and hot oven are the secrets to good cornsticks.

Natalie Bright is a blogger, author and speaker. Her fun, historical western TROUBLE IN TEXAS series for middle grades, is a wild west adventure for the entire family, and the RESCUE ANIMAL series features true stories about rescue horses.  Read about Natalie’s grandmother and her cherry salad recipe, selected for “THE WESTERN WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: Favorite Recipes, Cooking Tips, and Writing Wisdom” (TwoDot Publishing, June 2017). Her novella is a dark, drama set in Texas 1930’s titled MAGGIE’S BETRAYAL, selected for the anthology, OUR TIME ON ROUTE 66. She is currently working on a book about the great cattle drives and chuck wagons.