A Cast Iron Skillet- The Only Must Have For Your Kitchen

My mother used to tease me when I was younger about being a hopeless romantic.  From the time I can remember ever being described by her to someone she would say I wanted to believe only in the good side of things.  She called that being naïve.   I felt like this wasn’t meant to be a compliment.  Whatever it was, I have grown to be all right with this – it is who I am and I am comfortable in my skin.  Try that I might, I cannot nor do I want to view the ugly side of life.  Perhaps that is why Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books about living on the prairie have always appealed to me.

When I first read these books in elementary school they made me feel good about life in a simple way.  My favorite make-believe play (outside of playing school with Julie, Cindy and Lisa) was with a school friend, Estelle Moundfield.  I have no idea where Estelle is now but we had such fun together.  You see, she lived on a large piece of land in what was the nearest to being a farmhouse of any of my friends.  Estelle even had a barn so we would play for hours in the hayloft.  I would be Laura and she would be Mary.  It was great fun until one day I watched nature in real-time when Estelle’s cat leapt in the air and caught a bird flying by.  So long little bird.  Ugh!  That was enough of the loft for a while…

Life on the prairie

Anyway, my point to this is that my inner child has always been a little bit Laura Ingalls on the prairie.  I love everything about the idealistic side of how she and her family lived.  Now here I am in the big state of Illinois right smack dab living on the prairie.  I am a good case in point for intention bringing to fruition what you want to achieve!

Pancakes cooking on the stove

Pancakes cooking on the stove

Having read “The Little House” series dozens and dozens of times I know that the one pan Ma always used was an iron skillet.  I’m thinking that might be why it is my all-time fave cooking utensil for my kitchen.  I am guessing my skillet is over thirty-five years old or rather in iron skillet lingo, thirty-five years “well seasoned”.  I cook everything imaginable in my cast iron skillet each and every day.  I use it on the stove and in the oven.  I use it for everything from making my Sunday morning pancakes I wrote about in my post, Homemade Pancakes – What Could Be Better?  to stir-fry to oven baked chicken potpie and cobblers like the recipe in my post, Quick Summer Fruit Cobbler.

The benefits of using cast iron cookware

Did you know that cast iron cookware has been around since 513 BC?  Did you know that the Chinese first introduced it?  I figure that for most of you readers, acting like you live on the prairie isn’t a reason to own and use cast iron cookware.  So, here is a list of reasons why if you don’t already own and use any you will want to now:

  • Cast iron is virtually indestructible.
  • Cast iron is an excellent heat conductor, retaining heat well and distributing it evenly over the cooking surface.
  • Cast iron is a long lasting choice and can be reused irrespective of its age.
  • Most seasoned cooks believe that food has better flavor when cooked in cast iron than other cookware choices.
  • Cast iron is the healthiest option for cooking, as it requires little or no oil at all.
  • Cast iron is low on maintenance and can be cleaned using dishwashing soap, hot water and old-fashioned elbow grease.
  • Cast iron is environmentally friendly unlike non-stick cookware that releases toxic fumes into the air.
  • Best of all ~ cooking in cast iron has tremendous health benefits.  One of the biggest health benefits is cast iron’s ability to increase the source of iron in the food that is cooked in it which then increases the iron you absorb in your diet.

Using cast iron properly

Stuffed Peppers hot out of the oven

Stuffed Peppers hot out of the oven

In a previous blog post, Creating Homespace Beauty With Family Treasures, I wrote about the clearing and dividing of our mother’s home we six siblings did after we moved her into Richfield, an Assisted Living Facility for Alzheimer’s care.  As I wrote in the post, the six of us very carefully and methodically thought through dividing Mom’s furnishings and each of us six sibs chose items we personally treasured.  Most of what I chose I then passed on to my children.  All three of my kids are stellar cooks.  We all routinely text each other photos of our latest beautiful meals we have cooked.  But, Jimmy (my baby) has a deep love of all things happening in the kitchen and so I gave him one of my mother’s cast iron skillets I got.  Well seasoned, it is ready for whatever Jimmy has in mind to prepare!

“Seasoning” is a must so be sure to do this when you purchase any new cast iron.  For those of you new to the world of cast iron cookware, here are a few tips on how to season your pieces:

  • Clean your new cookware thoroughly with dish soap, hot water and a plastic brush.
  • Rinse and dry the utensil completely.
  • Apply a thin, even coat of vegetable oil to the surface of the utensil.
  • In a pre-heated oven of approximately 300 – 400 degrees, place the utensil upside down on the oven’s top rack.  (Put some aluminum foil under the utensil to catch any oil that might spill.)
  • Bake the utensil for one hour and then allow it to cool in the oven.

Enjoy the art of cooking with cast iron.  In this modern world we live in with new gadgets and gizmos developed every day and advertised as the “latest and greatest”, do yourself a favor and return to cooking the way your ancestors did.  You and the environment will be glad you did!

To cast iron cooking…

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Jamie Balzer

About Jamie Balzer

Jamie has worked in the field of interior decorating for over 10 years and has owned B&A Interiors, LLC for almost as long. Partnered with her daughter, Sammi Blake, Jamie has been honored to work in homes and businesses across the country. Knowledge and experience is but part of what she has to offer. As a young girl, Jamie intuitively understood that the placement of things, the color of things, and the arrangement of things evoke certain feelings. Working together with this knowledge, experience and intuition Jamie has answered the call to her life’s purpose- teaching the spiritual truth of what she believes- “Everything begins in the home”. As a branch of B&A Interiors, LLC, Living In Perfect Harmony emerged to teach her philosophy. Jamie believes, “if you live peacefully and beautifully at home, you are well, your family is well and that helps to make the world a better place”. Jamie's most passionate role is as a mother and grandmother. Jamie currently lives and works in the Chicago area but also continues her business in Charlotte, NC as both a decorator and a homespace coach. She is certified in Reiki Therapy which she believes broadens her success as a homespace coach. Jamie is available for private consultations, lectures and seminars.

14 thoughts on “A Cast Iron Skillet- The Only Must Have For Your Kitchen

  1. I remember waking up on Saturday mornings at your house and Sammi making us the most delicious omelettes in a cast iron skillet, maybe even the one you’re talking about!

    • Oh Blair, how wonderful that you remember this. And yes, the pictures in this post are of the same skillet. I use it every day for something. Yesterday was Sunday Pancake Day! I am not sure what most people cook with in South Africa but hopefully you can find good cast iron cookware there! Have a wonderful day and thanks for commenting. By the way, we all still love omelets- Sammi makes great ones still!

    • Oh the memories we have of Saturday mornings! I can smell the onions and green peppers cooking in the skillet right now….getting ready for the egg to be poured in! Remember we used to reheat leftover Chinese food in it too?

      • Yep, I remember reheating Chinese food in our iron skillet. I still do to this day as I try not to reheat much of anything in the microwave. Omelets were and are now a staple food choice!

      • I am sorry to say that I don’t think there is a Champs still. However, you make a trip to the States and we will give you all your faves you crave! Thank you so much for commenting… Be sure to read tomorrow’s post!

  2. The very mention of a cast-iron skillet brings back memories of bacon frying at my grandfather’s house in the Adirondacks. Up there the old folks referred to a cast-iron skillet as a “spider.” Not sure where the name came from.

    • Maggie, You speak directly to one of my main points I try to make all the time in my writings and that is – memories are formed from so many different aspects of home. What a wonderful thing for you to connect this post with your grandfather. I am glad this has given you a chance to think so fondly of the smell of bacon cooking in his home as well. Thanks for taking the time to comment and by the way, I know your birthday is coming soon so have a special blissful birthday week!

    • Laura, you realize then that your iron skillet is over 60 years( at least ) “well-seasoned”. I can only imagine the incredible creations you whip up in your skillet being the cook you are! And, what fun to know you can pass it on to one of your three kids as it will outlast generations! There is nothing like cast iron cookware! Thanks for commenting…

  3. Wow. This made me determined to pull the old skillet out from the back of the pan drawer and see what it can do. Thanks Jamie!

    • Patti, trust me on this one. Once you begin using your cast iron again you will never go back. I have several skillet choices in my cabinet and mostly, they just gather dust. I love my cast iron skillet so much that it permanently sits on top of my stove as part of my kitchen decor. From a warm fuzzy standpoint (and I am all about creating warm fuzzy moments) your children will pay attention to you using cast iron. It does something to us somehow. Maybe it treats cooking in a loving way as well as an artful way. Whatever the case may be – people love the cooking in cast iron both from visually watching it and then enjoying it in their tummies. Enjoy all the benefits cast iron produces!

  4. Jamie……I love cast iron too. So when my Mom passed I got a whole set of fry pans and a few pots. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven. So I cooked a lot of things in them. I kept getting sick and finally was diagnoses with Porphyria. Doctor said I could not use the cast iron cookware as it leaches iron into the food. And that is a problem for me. So my greatest treasure is a large cooking pot that came over on a covered wagon with my grandparents I kept and others have the joy of the cookware.
    Joy Stark

    • OK Joy, you had me at mention of a covered wagon. (It’s that Laura Ingalls Wilder in me again…) Do you really have a large cooking pot that was transported by covered wagon? Well, I am not really questioning it but, oohing and awing over the thought of it. Oh, the history you have in your kitchen! I have to say that before I answered your comment I did some internet research on Porphyria including a site called “The American Porphyria Foundation”. Not only have I never heard of this disease or cluster of symptoms but, certainly never knew anyone with it. Thank you so much for teaching me something new today. It just goes to show you that we all can learn more each day than we ever imagined even through a platform called Blogging! As for the leaching of the iron that occurs in cast iron cookware, most of us can benefit from it. Thank you so much for drawing attention to that point with the input of your own health constraints and why you cannot use cast iron products for cooking. Keep well and blissful. I do so appreciate all your comments and impressions of life you write about.

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