Cast Iron Cooking
Sandy Willoughby

“The kitchen is a country in which there are always discoveries to be made.”
Grimod de la Reynière (1758-1838)

Dear Kitchen Queens:)
The more time I spend in my kitchen, the more discoveries I find.  One thing I'm working on again after years of attempts at mastering is cast iron cooking. I just know if/when I ever get it right that I will find the natural non-stick surface, brilliant black surface so many before me made happen with such ease, and more.

There is an art to cooking with cast iron pieces and it takes a gradually learning for some of us. I have some skillets seasoned so well that I almost can't believe it and others that require seasoning constantly and still don't measure up anywhere close to my ideal yet! I just keep on trying:)   It reminds me of our lives in some ways. I mean, we cannot perform right until we are seasoned well and properly maintained, you know?

Cast iron must be seasoned by coating with oil and heat or fire helps it absorb the oil.
We need the holy oil of our Lord and His Word and the fires in life sometimes are needed to saturate our every spiritual pore.

My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Luke 7:46

When cast iron is used, everything you read will tell you to use hot water and a brush or soft scrubber. Some will tell you that an occasional bit of soap won't hurt.
When we are used as spiritual servants, sometimes we have to be scrubbed and washed with some hot water of prayer and deep reading in between us being used by God.

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. Luke

Cast iron requires a light coat of oil rubbed in well after the piece is perfectly dry and before putting up again.
Our hearts need the balm of the Lord applied as we rest when needed.

Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God,
even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.
Hebrews  1:9

Thinking on these things makes my cast iron cooking a time of practice, service, and restoration. Isn't it amazing how many things we can use to compare our spiritual lives to in order to help us keep the spiritual always in front of our vision?

I have built up my cast iron pieces since I started collecting almost 20 years ago. Now, almost all of my cooking is done using cast iron in the way of my one cast iron hammered sauce pan, an old griddle, a small fry pan that might hold one grilled cheese sandwich or two eggs and a size up from that --- all from Blake's grandmother. I have a deep skillet and a grill skillet from my mother, and the other pieces I've purchased along the way:
5-quart Dutch oven, regular skillet, two gas eye stove top covering grill/griddle, and a set of camping cast iron.

I still have to apply some elbow grease when I cook things like eggs and hamburgers on the grill sides with some of these pieces but a lot of things slide right off as if I was using brand new non-stick pans!

Some cooks are put off by the weight of cast iron and that is something to consider because it isn't light. Cookware like this is probably the heaviest of any kind. The weight is one of the plus points for me bec/ it works my muscles and burns fat while being lifted, carried, washed down, dried, and hung up.

Some tips I've picked up along the way:

* New cast iron cookware has a coating of wax left on by the manufacturer and needs to be burned off first. I did this with my 5-quart Dutch Oven by washing it well with hot soapy water and then placing it in my gas oven for as high as it would go and leaving in for 20-30 minutes after reading this online somewhere. After this, I applied a coat of shortening lightly but thoroughly to the inside, outside, lid, and so on. I let it heat up in the oven at 350 or so degrees for an hour and repeated the process after it cooled down. Since then, I purposely deep fried some curly fries bec/ I've read to cook really greasy things and even deep fry when you first start seasoning a new cast iron piece to speed the seasoning process dramatically.

* You almost never need soap! Properly seasoned cast iron can be cleaned by rinsing off with hot water and scraping clean with a scrub brush. Just rinse and scrub or wipe with a hot cloth until cleaned completely. Always, always, always apply a thin layer of grease or oil when cleaning is complete.

* Rinse a pot or pan out with water if it hasn't been used daily in case any dust has gathered on the oil coating.

* Use a LOT of grease or oil for the first several times cooking in newer cast iron to fully develop the non-stick coating.

* Don't make anything with tomatoes either at all or at least until the pan is so seasoned that the acids won't eat through until it can be properly cleaned.

* Never, ever let a cast iron anything sit in water! Water will rust quickly and mess up the pan! Isn't this like sin in our lives? We might fall or get knocked into sin but we can instantly jump out... if we lie in it... we get the rust (sin) from our hearts to the outer life!

If you have been tempted into evil, fly from it. It is not falling into the water, but lying in it, that drowns.

-- Author Unknown

Here are some sites you might enjoy browsing through if you want to deepen your knowledge of cast iron cooking, seasoning the pans, and so on: (Please note that I do not full go through any of these sites and cannot approve of everything on them!)
Informational site!
History of Your Frying Pan:)
Griswold Cast Iron Cookware
Griswold and Wagner Ware Message Board
All my newer pieces are Lodge brand! Their free catalog can be ordered from their site and we love ours! On the site, they list books and videos and I would love to have some of these books! Dream shop while you are there too:)

Recipes using Cast Iron Cookware:

Chocolate cake in a cast iron skillet rises to the occasion
By Cheryl Chapman / Dallas Morning News

Here's something different for committed chocoholics. Chocolate puddle, or skillet cake, is baked in a skillet with no icing.
Though weight is against it, cast iron is the best skillet to use here because of its even heating properties.
After the cake bakes, the middle will settle slightly or fall. The toothpick test will tell cooks whether it's ready to come out.
This super-moist, soft cake has a creamy top and is wonderful with butter or whipped cream.

Chocolate Skillet Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup light Karo syrup (see note)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1 cup sour milk (see note)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch cast-iron skillet. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and beat. Add syrup and vanilla, if using.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon, if using.
Alternate adding sifted ingredients and milk to butter-sugar mixture.
Pour batter into prepared skillet. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. When done, the center will shake a little and appear not to be quite done, but the outside rim will be baked. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
Note: Ribbon-cane syrup, such as Steen's, may be substituted for the corn syrup for a deeper flavor; the cinnamon and vanilla may be omitted for chocolate purists.
Note: To make sour milk, combine 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice with 1 cup of 1 percent fat or 2 percent fat milk and allow to sit for a few minutes at room temperature. (Sometimes this mixture is called clabbered milk.) Or, blend 1 cup of nonfat milk with 2 to 3 tablespoons of plain, nonfat yogurt. You can also substitute buttermilk.
Per serving: 363 calories; 14 g fat (8 g saturated fat; 34 percent calories from fat); 57 g carbohydrates; 81 mg cholesterol; 371 mg sodium; 2 g fiber.

Really neat recipe for cornbread:)


1 (30 oz.) can pork and beans
1 onion, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into small pieces


Combine all ingredients in a 12-inch Lodge Camp Dutch oven. Bake with 8 coals under and 12 on lid for about 2-1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Remove lid for last half hour to let moisture escape.

Serves 10-20



© 2004 sandy willoughby

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