Thursday, July 17, 2008

my most essential cookware


I don’t know why I felt compelled to post about this, but the other day while puttering around in my kitchen I got to thinking about those items I use most. It was probably when I was putting them away that it occurred to me how often I'm putting them away.

Now I have a lot of things I use quite often because I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Aside from an assortment of various sized strainers, (which I kind of have a thing for) and my crockpots, the two items I use most often are pictured here.

Yep, a good old cast iron skillet and a stoneware (clay) baker, both of which have been in use in my kitchen for years. I have a few other type of skillets, but none serve me as well as the cast iron. I have vowed that once my others are worn out (which is in the very near future) I will not purchase any other nonstick cookware but instead cook only on my cast iron.

Now if you want to know about seasoning cast iron, there’s lots of info out there including here at the Barber Bunch blog. Carolyn also mentions how to clean your cast iron as well as some no-nos such as not using steel wool or soap. Here are a few other tips from yours truly…

  • I use a nylon scraper made for cleaning stoneware and cast iron to take off stuck on food while washing as well as a Chore Boy Golden Fleece scrubbing cloth. These seem to clean best for me.

  • Never soak your cast iron for a lengthy time, like overnight. It’s iron and it will rust.

  • One way to clean off really stuck on food is to add water to the skillet, heat on burner and cook it off for a few minutes, then wash as normal.

  • Never put cast iron in a dishwasher.

  • After rinsing, always dry cast iron with a towel or heat on stove top to dry.

A lot of the same principles of care that apply to cast iron apply to stoneware as well. By stoneware I mean the unglazed clay kind.

  • Season if or when necessary by wiping interior lightly with oil. Wipe out excess with a clean, soft cloth or paper towel.
  • You’ll find that just like cast iron, the more high fat or greasy food you cook in clay the better seasoned it becomes. This is especially true when you are breaking in new stoneware. The darker your stoneware gets the better it gets. Don’t even be concerned about appearance. :)

  • Do not put in dishwasher.
  • Like cast iron, hand wash in warm water without the use of soap. Stoneware is porous so not only will you remove the season with soap, you’ll imbue the flavor of soap into it. Yum. A nylon scraper will be your stoneware’s best friend.
  • Do not soak stoneware for long. Soaking it will weaken it making it more prone to breakage.
  • You can leave clay stoneware in the oven while baking other items to help hold and distribute the heat.

The things I love about cast iron and stoneware are that both cook evenly and well, plus keep food warm longer. Plus cast iron can be used on the stove or in the oven. With proper use and care both will develop a smooth, stick resistant cooking surface and will work as well as any Teflon type skillet or bake pan. Not to mention they won’t warp or wear out but instead will serve you well for many, many years.

Purchasing quality cast iron or stoneware can be costly, but I consider it a long term investment well worth the money spent.

6 comments:

  1. I'm with you - I love both my cast iron and stone cookware. I have a stone pizza/bread stone that I can't imagine living without.

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  2. How funny that you should post this! I was thinking about writing about cast iron cookware on my blog tonight! Like you, I've decided not to replace my non-stick skillets, but to stay with cast iron in the future.

    When my cast iron gets too much of a buildup on it, I put it in the woodstove and burn it off. The skillet comes out as clean as a new one. It must be reseasoned, of course, but every now and then I like to start mine over. My mother used to do the same, except that she didn't have a wood stove so she'd put her skillets in the piles of leaves we used to burn in the fall to clean them.

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  3. Having eaten many a delicious meal that you cooked, I am thankful for these tools of yours. But I love my Revere stainless pots and pans. They're about 20 years old but still look like new. I remember the big cast iron skillet we had growing up with a mixture of love and hate. I loved to cook with it, but cleanup was another thing. I doubt if I'd be able to lift it nowadays. I thought for a while that I'd love the stone cookware, but I ended up giving them to Gert. I guess each cook has her own preferences, and I'm glad these work for you, especially when I get to eat the yummy stuff you cook!

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  4. Hey.....that's Me!! Thanks for linking me!

    Isn't it funny how we use the pots and pans over and over.

    Great Post.

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  5. Kathie - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I have the pizza stones, too and love them. I make my round loaves of bread on them.

    Granny Sue - I never considered doing as you mentioned. Thanks for that tip.

    Princess Jenni - Thanks sweetie. I have to agree, the stainless steel pots and pans are the best. Well, with the exception of my heavy enamel ware pan, I like that a lot, too. All good quality stuff that stands the teat of time and cooking.

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  6. Carolyn - I overlooked you in my first response! You are very welcome. :)

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I sure appreciate your taking the time to share your thoughts. I may not always have time to respond or acknowledge them but I do read them all and highly value your presence here.

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