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Southerners know the value of an iron skillet |

Southerners know the value of an iron skillet

Of course, I could also be a sucker for the line on the Lodge company website, “We don’t just make iron; we make heirlooms that bring people together for generations.” Geez. No pressure there. I’ll just have to leave it to the boys to decide who gets the jewelry and who gets the skillet.

Writer Rick Bragg has extolled the virtues of a good iron skillet in his columns in Southern Living, and I know my mountain relatives all have their own skillets, passed down through the generations I’m sure. I have a feeling there might have been a real to-do when my grandmother Bramlett went to a nursing home and no longer needed her skillets and my aunts “discussed” who would get them.

Oh who am I kidding, more than likely, there was blood drawn. Seriously. Cain and Abel have nothing on some of the folks in this branch of the family tree. Forget reasoned discourse and thoughtful mediation, one of my cousins just went straight to mountain justice and killed one of his brothers in an argument over which side of a ditch they should put a fence post. And no he didn’t use the skillet.

But I digress. With that bloodline, how is it that I have spent my entire life without a good cast iron skillet?


I’ll blame it on my mom. You don’t need an iron skillet for tofu and peach salsa (which, for the record, I do not eat). You also don’t need an iron skillet for most of the meals I grew up on. Now, a skillet could have done wonders for a grilled cheese sandwich. But in mom’s defense, when you’re trying to feed three kids, one sandwich at a time is a laughable way to operate.

Jiffy cornbread could have also been awesome in an iron skillet. Ours was baked in a square glass pan instead. That’s okay, it was still good. Just not great, right? Rick Bragg would scoff at the idea of cornbread made in anything but a well-seasoned iron skillet. By the way, I love his writing, so please don’t tell him that I don’t own a well-seasoned iron skillet. If I ever have the chance to meet him, he might not speak to me on principle.

I’m doing my best to make up for lost time though. So far, the boys and I have made lots of scrambled eggs, fajitas, quesadillas, bacon and more bacon, Did I say bacon? I haven’t done a steak yet, but we’ve done bacon. Oh, wait, I said that.

I’m also making sure that I don’t forget I have one. I don’t usually keep anything but my cobalt blue kettle and a cool pottery spoon rest on the stove, but no one puts Baby in a corner. No, wait, I mean, no one puts the iron skillet in a drawer. The pan sits on the stove, rinsed in water only, no soap (heaven forbid or I would be struck by lightning for sure), dried and wiped with a cooking oil soaked paper towel. It sits on that gas eye and beckons me to come hither…use me it says. Who knew an iron skillet had a siren’s song as alluring as, well, a siren?

But it also mocks me and I am well aware of just how much it does so. It seems to know that I will never make the kinds of food my grandmother did in her skillet. It knows that gravy (gag) will not find its way to the gas heated center of its being. It knows that I’m more likely to cook shrimp than sausage on its lovely black surface. And it seems to practically sneer at my good aluminum cookie sheets with the Silpat (made in France) liners. But that’s OK. If it’s not careful, someday when I can no longer lift it, it may just find itself being used as a door stop.

Susan Epps is an assistant professor at East Tennessee State University and the proud owner of a 10-inch Lodge skillet.

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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