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Suburban Chronicles: Cast-iron pans are good for cooking — and cleaning clocks |

Suburban Chronicles: Cast-iron pans are good for cooking — and cleaning clocks

The cast iron fry pan sat, neglected, in the back of my kitchen cupboard for years.

Black, impossibly heavy and seriously foreboding. I would often glance at it quickly while pulling another newer, fancier pan from a shelf before averting my eyes. It seemed better designed to do damage to skulls than actually cook food.

The few times I used it were an unmitigated disaster. After removing the dust with soap and water, heating it up and dropping in the ingredients, I was inevitably engaged in a duel to the death via spatula, my food charred and stuck to the bottom of the scorched pan. It seemed like the grumpy old man of cookware, yelling at me to get off the lawn.

But recently I was in need, yet again, of a new frying pan — having cooked my latest non-stick wonder into a rumpled shell of its former self. This time, I researched some options on the internet and one of the alternatives being touted was cast iron — as per usual, your grandma knew what she was doing all along. It’s durable, has amazing heat distribution and whatever microscopic bits come off the pan and into your food may actually be beneficial to your health (iron in particular).

What I realized is that cast iron needs a little more love and affection than most pans. Washing it in soap and water, for example, is a no-no and using a little canola oil or butter (or better yet, bacon fat) helps the sticking issue tremendously. There’s a “seasoning” process that takes time but once achieved, turns a cast iron pan into something that’s virtually cling-free.

And as it turns out, my cast iron pan was already seasoned. Once I got the hang of it, and it took about a week, I found I could cook anything I would normally use a non-stick pan for — including the dreaded fried eggs, which now come off as easy as you please.

To make things even better, my pan also has a mysterious history. My wife bought it a flea market 15 years ago and it has a shield and the letters “GSW No. 9” stamped on the bottom. My initial detective work indicates it was likely made by General Steel Wares, a company that had manufacturing plants in the area but no longer makes cookware. No. 9 indicates the size.

While it might be impossible to accurately date when it was manufactured, it’s charming to think I’m just the latest of a long line of cooks to rustle up some bacon and eggs in the thing.

And it is heavy. In a pan versus skull test, I would be laying big money on my black GSW No. 9.

Then I’d use it to cook breakfast for the loser.

Category: Cookware Pans  Tags: ,  Comments off
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