Cookware (or, Cast Your Vote for Cast Iron)

When I married the CaveHusband, we had a heck of a time with the registry.

(Life is sooooo hard).

We had our food intake down to a science, but were just beginning to explore the other areas of our lives in need of a Primal makeover. We were learning about toxic fructose, genetically-modified foods (Seeds of Deception and The World According To Monsanto will blow your mind), the joy of knowing your farmers, and the relationship of between sleep, eating seasonally, and health. We had our Eat Primal merit badges, but there’s always more to learn.

The Eat Primal merit badge, right next to the I Saw A Movie Where The Main Character Reflects America's Health Crisis badge.

So, as you can see, the question plaguing us – not to mention mankind – is what kind of cookware should we put on our wedding registry?

Simply google “nonstick safety.” There’s simply too many conflicting ideas, so why not remove yourself from the fray altogether? While the new “nonstick” pans are considered “safe” with the caveats Don’t Scratch, Don’t Use Near Wildlife, Don’t Overheat and Don’t Get Mad At Us In 50 Years When Your Brain Starts Growing Out Your Ear, we decided to opt for a few more established players. Besides, it says right on the Calphalon website “Cooks with little to no oils or fats.

If this isn’t against my religion, I don’t know what is.

I understand the convenience of nonstick cooking, but if I’ve learned anything, “convenience” products are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Cooking can be a mild inconvenience, but that will never send me campaigning for the Froot Loops candidate. With a little practice, you can easily fit cooking into your life (just ask my CaveMom about her chicken-sweet potato skillets).

Enter the three (non-Caveman) Loves of my Life. Porcelain enameled Dutch oven, Stainless Steel saucepan, and the Cast Iron Skillet.

Our tiny stove is home to extreme Awesomeness.

We picked up the Dutch oven (a misnomer) in Greece on our honeymoon. It was made in a little stoneware shop using traditional techniques combined with Le Creuset precision and we got it at 1/4 of the standard DO price. It’s porcelain over iron and, since my crock pot went kaput, I’ve been using it for everything from soups to oven pork shoulders. I am proud to say that I know my Dutch Oven farmer.

We registered for Stainless Steel cookware because glass (the safest, in my opinion, behind cast iron) is too fragile and not only did we have to move everything cross-country, we also needed cookware that would stand up to Anger, Frustration, Klutziness, and I Touched The Hot Handle Without An Oven Mitt-ness. While extended use with acidic foods like tomato sauce can cause mild breakdown and leeching, I’m not concerned with the after-effects of scrambling eggs in a gallon of coconut oil. SS is also perfect for re-heating dishes when you’re trying to reduce your micro-wave load. Or avoid your co-workers’ special brand of Crazy.

"Please clear any unused time off the microwave when you are finished. Some of us have OCD and leftover time drives us crazy." Crazy is right.

My number one favorite is the cast-iron skillet. It’s old-school, good for baking, heats evenly, makes everything delicious, and is would be perfect for beating the snot out of an intruder. (If only these folks had one.) All you have to do is season it, love it, and remember to use an oven mitt when you touch the handle. I cook everything from stews and frittatas to bacon and hash in it, and we store it in the oven because…our kitchen is precisely the size of an oven mitt and we use all the storage space we’ve got.

Reigning in the bacon with a cast-iron burger press.

You can take it camping and use it over the fire or a charcoal grill when tailgating. While you can get seriously old-school cast irons like Griswold on ebay, Crate & Barrel carries pre-seasoned Lodge brand. The coolest thing is that the low levels of iron that can be released into our food is actually as good as an dietary iron supplement. Win-win!

The Cast Iron goes anywhere!


8 Comments to “Cookware (or, Cast Your Vote for Cast Iron)”

  1. I absolutely love my two cast iron skillets…both are about 65 years old and were my grandmothers. They are both smooth as glass and since I have gone paleo, they only have animal fat touching them. The have none stickiness has improved dramatically with the use and seasoning with tallow and lard.

    Take care of your cast iron and they will take care of your food.

    Here’s a pic of them

    • They look so well-loved and well-seasoned! I need to pick up a mid-size cast iron for the smaller dishes. I’ve even seen teensy single-serve ones for individual dishes. Love it. I hope to pass my cast iron down as your grandmothers did.

  2. Husband and I just decided to throw our nonstick away (goodwill) and start over with stainless (and now maybe a cast iron). Then I read this… its like I have ESPN or something… (name the movie)

  3. so informative, thank you! i’m sure cast iron is widely used in the UK, I just haven’t seen it as much in the high street shops (though the same is true if you go to Macy’s in the US). We have to be mindful of budget at the moment but fully intend to snag a cast iron pan sometime soon 🙂

  4. I love my cast iron skillets and my enamel-over-cast dutch oven. I have some heirloom skillets and always buy the nice, old, machined ones if I see them at a second-hand store. I strip them, re-season them, and use them.

    I suggest getting some of the Lodge hot handle holders so you don’t have to grab a hot pad. Makes it much easier if I’m cooking with multiple pans at once.

  5. Here’s my most recent lesson in “Don’t grab without a mitt” school:

    No matter how much it hurts, I will always love my Cast Iron.

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