By Lynn Moncus
An article in the Albuquerque Journal about cast iron skillets and their continued popularity certainly caught my attention because I rarely cook a meal without using one.
Several of my friends have teased me about my clinging to those special utensils and guarding them as if they were of great value. Well, to this non-cook, they are of great value!
I grew up with those skillets on the stove and have continued to use them no matter that others prefer rather fancy cooking utensils and certainly those that are more attractive. I can’t imagine frying bacon and eggs in any other kind of skillet or baking cornbread in anything besides an iron skillet.
Yes, I have had other kinds but discarded them long ago because they were never used. Although I no longer fry potatoes in lard or even in bacon grease, I make believe I’m frying them by spraying a light vegetable oil in an iron skillet and letting those potatoes cook until they almost resemble fried potatoes.
On occasion, I am known to fry chicken in something less than lard and most definitely have to place it in one of those heavy skillets.
I’ve tried to use electric skillets for the same project, but the chicken never tastes the same nor does anything else for that matter.
As a major beef eater, I also use those iron skillets to pan broil steaks or hamburgers. The imagination may be working over time, but it tells me that nothing else in the kitchen can be substituted for those skillets.
Of course, I can burn anything in them but don’t seem to burn most things quite so readily when using a heavy skillet. Mother even gave me some rather nice cooking utensils to use when I moved down south, but I placed most of them aside and just relied on those skillets. She finally gave up and even bought me such a skillet used by Mrs. Nations and brought to this country when she was a girl. That is still a major treasure although I rarely use it because it is larger than I need. According to the writer of the article, the popularity of the cast iron skillets comes and goes. They suddenly appear in yard sales and then become major items for sale in the larger stores.
Supposedly the popularity picks up about every 10 years. Well, for some of us, it never waned because we have remained faithful to them for more years than we can count.
At least, I quit using a cast iron Dutch oven some years ago and have left it in storage because I’m not apt to be cooking for a crowd or preparing many of the meals so popular among the chuck wagon cooks. That was one handy utensil, however, because it could be used for cooking a pot of beans, baking loaves of sour dough bread or cobblers, or baking large roasts. It also seemed to have a special flavor to add to such cooking.
While many of you prefer light weight utensils, I’ll just keep building the muscles in my left arm while lifting these black skillets from stove to cabinet. Old habits are almost impossible to break, and stubborn people aren’t apt to make many changes!