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Cookware (or, Cast Your Vote for Cast Iron)

Posted Dec 10 2010 12:00am

When I married the CaveHusband, we had a heck of a time with the registry.

(Life is sooooo hard).

So, as you can see, the question plaguing us – not to mention mankind – is what kind of cookware should we put on our wedding registry?

Simply google “nonstick safety.” There’s simply too many conflicting ideas, so why not remove yourself from the fray altogether? While the new “nonstick” pans are considered “safe” with the caveats Don’t Scratch, Don’t Use Near Wildlife, Don’t Overheat and Don’t Get Mad At Us In 50 Years When Your Brain Starts Growing Out Your Ear, we decided to opt for a few more established players. Besides, it says right on the Calphalon website “Cooks with little to no oils or fats.

If this isn’t against my religion, I don’t know what is.

I understand the convenience of nonstick cooking, but if I’ve learned anything, “convenience” products are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Cooking can be a mild inconvenience, but that will never send me campaigning for the Froot Loops candidate. With a little practice, you can easily fit cooking into your life (just ask my CaveMom about her chicken-sweet potato skillets).

Enter the three (non-Caveman) Loves of my Life. Porcelain enameled Dutch oven, Stainless Steel saucepan, and the Cast Iron Skillet.

We picked up the Dutch oven (a misnomer) in Greece on our honeymoon. It was made in a little stoneware shop using traditional techniques combined with Le Creuset precision and we got it at 1/4 of the standard DO price. It’s porcelain over iron and, since my crock pot went kaput, I’ve been using it for everything from soups to oven pork shoulders. I am proud to say that I know my Dutch Oven farmer.

We registered for Stainless Steel cookware because glass (the safest, in my opinion, behind cast iron) is too fragile and not only did we have to move everything cross-country, we also needed cookware that would stand up to Anger, Frustration, Klutziness, and I Touched The Hot Handle Without An Oven Mitt-ness. While extended use with acidic foods like tomato sauce can cause mild breakdown and leeching, I’m not concerned with the after-effects of scrambling eggs in a gallon of coconut oil. SS is also perfect for re-heating dishes when you’re trying to reduce your micro-wave load. Or avoid your co-workers’ special brand of Crazy.

My number one favorite is the cast-iron skillet. It’s old-school, good for baking, heats evenly, makes everything delicious, and is would be perfect for beating the snot out of an intruder. (If only these folks had one.) All you have to do is season it, love it, and remember to use an oven mitt when you touch the handle. I cook everything from stews and frittatas to bacon and hash in it, and we store it in the oven so it can re-season itself time and again.

You can take it camping and use it over the fire or a charcoal grill when tailgating. While you can get seriously old-school cast irons like Griswold on ebay, Crate & Barrel carries pre-seasoned Lodge brand. The coolest thing is that the low levels of iron that can be released into our food is actually as good as an dietary iron supplement. Win-win!

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