I’m no gourmet, but this past Christmas I received a very nice enameled cast iron pot as one of my presents. While I confess to admiring them in the stores, I really had no clue how to cook using cast iron. This is because I grew up in a crock-pot and electric skillet farm home where our sole cast iron pan, a large frying pan, was used to fry the lake-caught catfish to which my mom was deathly allergic. I must also admit that I do own one of my grandmother’s old cast iron skillets, but being unsure as to what it was good for, it remained in one of my cabinets for almost ten years. So, while I’m no Julia Child, I decided it was time to figure out why so many people swear by this method of cooking.
Because I currently own more cookbooks than I know what to do with, I decided to check out the library for resources related to cooking with cast iron pans. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the new cookbooks feature full-color photos of almost every recipe. I was also able to find information on how to use, clean, and store my pan as well as helpful hints on converting standard recipes to use with cast iron. (Who knew that I’d need new utensils to keep from scratching my pan’s surface or that cast iron pans would be great at keeping food hot even after I’d turned off the oven? I certainly didn’t.)
I also liked having the opportunity to “test drive” some cookbooks before buying them. I was able to find books that fit my simple “farm food” preference and the amount of prep time that I was willing to invest in cooking. My personal favorites, which are shown above, are The Everything Cast Iron Cookbook. Feel free to browse our cookbook section and find some new recipes to fit your own style. I can’t wait to hear what’s for dinner.