Saturday, May 16, 2009

Back to the Future Again

A few months ago I bought a 12" cast iron skillet. I've been cooking more lately inspired by Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and Mark Bittman's Food Matters. I've been trying to get back to basics, using whole foods in simple recipes. It seems appropriate to take the same approach to cookware.

I also suffer from increasing distrust of corporations and the things they tell us. I've been feeling a nagging unease while wondering what chemicals might be leaching into my food from now-ubiquitous non-stick cookware coatings. Sure, I've been frying all kinds of stuff at high temperatures on these miracle coatings for years, and it's no doubt too late to worry about it now, but what the heck.

After searching around the web, I settled on a skillet and matching lid from a major outdoor sporting goods supplier. I liked the idea that it was pre-seasoned and made in the USA.

So far, I'm very pleased with my frying pan. I use it to saute big batches of vegetables and then add heaps of beans, rice and curry powder. It's great for baking whole-wheat flatbread that quickly becomes a pizza when topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. It bakes a wonderful corn bread and fries fresh, local eggs. It's so big, that one session in the kitchen yields enough for several meals. Many of the things I put together taste even better a day or two later.

It's about as easy to clean as any pan with a high tech coating. I simply rinse it with hot water while scouring with a copper pad. I dry it on the stove for a minute and then coat it with a little grapeseed oil to keep it seasoned. My mother would have used bacon fat, but, well, we don't have any of that around these days.

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