One of the benefits of growing up in The West is the vast expanses of relatively untouched natural lands. My childhood was filled with many nights spent under the stars and in tents; I walked through woods, mountains and deserts. Each night and morning the family would gather around the fire and the white gas stoves and talk and laugh and cook the meals we would share together. Figuring prominently in the preparation of these meals were cast iron pots and skillets. We would cook over open flame and upon glowing coals.
There was a time that the cast iron skillet was a key piece of equipment in most kitchens and at some point in our recent past the flash and glamour of lightweight aluminum and teflon coated surface came to dominate the kitchen scene.
For the majority of my life cast iron did not have a place in the kitchen. I kept my cast iron cookware well oiled and hiding in the garage with my tent and sleeping bag. The heavy pieces iron were ones I associated only with outdoors. One day while shopping I saw a cast iron skillet for sale. Initially I purchased it to add to my outdoor gear. The skillet made it’s way to the kitchen. I wiped it down with oil and put it in the oven to cure. The skillet then found a place on my stove top and soon, the warped steel teflon coated skillets we had received for a wedding gift found themselves neglected and alone in the cupboard by the stove. More and more I would go to my cast iron skillet. There were some mishaps as I had not perfectly cured the pan yet. But I kept at it. The combination of gas cook top and cast iron helped me to more evenly and enjoyable cook for myself and my family.
Sunday mornings in my house have become a time for a family meal. The competing schedules of our home, work and school lives leave little opportunity for these type of family meals. Biscuits and sausage gravy had been the meal. The sausage and gravy had been cooked in my cast iron skillet. After breakfast and cleaned the skillet with a rag and water and looked at the deep black of the iron and I remembered. I remembered the lighter iron grey it had once been. My fingers ran over the cook surface and it’s blackness was smooth to the touch. It had not always been so; when first purchased it was rough and bumpy. It was unfinished and unready for daily use and incapable of producing a perfect meal. This is no longer the case. The skillet and iron are cured and smooth. It’s rare now to find something sticking the pan. Use and care were all it took. Paying attention to the details and showing the skillet gratitude for the results it produced.
I now hold that piece of iron with care and love. It has become a trusted and valued friend of mine.