Fear of Frying


Like many people I’ve always had a cast iron fry pan in my repertoire but I only drag it out a few times a year for certain recipes and usually afterwards I am lamenting that I didn’t remember how badly it sticks and how I should have re-seasoned it. Then, I generally leave it out for a while to remind myself before finally getting tired of seeing it and back it goes to the dark side of the cupboard. This is a cycle as regular as the seasons yet like many things, I am ashamed to say that it seems less tiresome to slope into my car, drive to a store and purchase yet another non-stick pan once the current one starts getting that sun-burned skin going on in the middle. Disturbing! But lately I feel guilty and a bit queasy when I recall all those things about not having any kind of caged bird around if you use non-stick  (how can THAT be okay?) and then there’s the entire health concern and environmental piece.

So, when I recently unearthed a truly ancient cast iron fry pan that had belonged to The General’s mother – the appearance of which was both endearing and alarming – I was inspired afresh to make things right. 

Several  coils of fine steel wool  and kosher salt scrubbing later revealed a black, matte looking fry pan that was no longer full of rust circles. There is a name stamped on the bottom (Wagner Ware and Smart in our cases) which apparently is a sought after thing, since local cast iron is a good sign for purity and longevity.

Do not be lured by the eerily silver intergalactic looking camping fry-pans that masquerade as virtuous cast iron!

They may have an undesirable genealogy thus rendering them just as evil as the non-stick itself . There’s also often a tell-tale gravelly feel to the inside.

I could bore you but if you are keen and I hope you are, here’s a very excellent guide for the entire seasoning process which honestly is not a big deal and takes 1/3 of the time of driving to replace your pan! Plus it’s free.

So far, I am extremely impressed with this new addition to our pans and I love the nostalgia, history and sheer working class element that comes with it.

(And, I have re-seasoned my original fry pan so that there will be no bad feelings towards this new, freshly sleeked upstart in the cupboard.)

The heat is even and there is basically no sticking.

That is it. And it will last forever, (Also? A total workout wielding these pans about the kitchen!)

The General and I are now avidly looking for smaller/different sized fry pans to add to our collection when we frequent Thrift Shops (yes, there’s no end to our revelry!) and although we have not found any yet, it’s the thrill of the chase that we like.

2 comments on “Fear of Frying

  1. Bflyguy says:

    Thanks for extolling the virtues of cast iron. I am in possession of a #5 Findley, #8 Smart, and unnamed #8 with which I believe has a gate mark. Gate marks predate the pan before 1900. I did inherit my grandmothers Wagner #8 Drip Drop Round Roaster which I use to smelt steel. The trouble with the thrift shops is that they know the value of cast pans and price accordingly. That being said, I would probably pay whatever if I was to find a #14 Griswold skillet.

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