Let’s Eat — A Writer’s Guide to Cooking

A great sense of mystery and allure surrounds our big cast iron frying pan. The pan has character. A Christmas gift a few years ago from our thoughtful and charming children, this hefty monster literally changed our lives. After years of using so-called non-stick pans, we returned to our Depression-era roots and have been grateful ever since.

If you haven’t used a cast iron pan, I heartily recommend it. But there are a few things you must know. First, if you are starting with a brand new pan, the pan will need to be “seasoned.” This is accomplished by applying a generous coating of shortening to the bottom and sides of the pan, and then “baking” the pan in the oven at about 200 degrees for a couple of hours. This creates a nice non-stick finish. If there is any liquid in the pan after it has been baked, blot it up with a paper towel.

After you’ve used the pan a few times, you will need to repeat the seasoning process. You will also notice with each successive use that the pan is darkening in color. It takes a long time for it to become black and permanently slick. If you have trouble with things sticking, go ahead and season it again.

And now a word about washing: Don’t. A properly seasoned pan is very easy to clean. A little light scraping with a spatula after each use followed by a quick wipe with a paper towel is all that’s necessary. Dipping the pan in soapy water and scrubbing it will make it rust and you will have to start over.

I am reminded of a story a friend told me about a summer he spent working for the forest service. As a camp rookie, he was assigned cooking duty. The first mistake he made was to wash the cast iron frying pan, which hadn’t seen soap and water for who knows how many years. Everybody jumped all over him. “What are you doing!” they yelled. “You’ve ruined our pan!”

I am also reminded of our youngest son, who thinks it is absolutely ridiculous that I can stand at the stove and admire our pan for several minutes at a time. “Come over here and take a look at this pan,” I’ve told him on many occasions. “You’ve got to see it.” And he comes over and says, “So? It’s a pan.” But he’s only pretending not to care. I know full well that he feels as strongly about the pan as I do.

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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