Cast Iron Baby!
I'm going to share my Cast Iron Skillets with you this Functional Friday. They are the best kitchenware item ever. If I only had one item in my kitchen this is what it would be. You can mix in it, cook in it and eat from it. All without any harmful aluminum toxins or Teflon issues. And since the iron actually leaches into your food, you don't necessarily need to take iron supplements to keep your iron high (really good news for vegetarians).
Now to be realistic, I don't usually mix anything in them, however my brother-in-law has used a skillet to crack his eggs, milk and cinnamon in, when making French Toast. His theory is that the skillet is shallow but wide allowing for a better bread dipping scenario than a bowl. Since it is bowl like (tall walls and round) you could, in theory, do your mixing in this functional item.
Cooking is easy. No need for PAM sprays or anything odd, just a little oil is all you need (avocado, coconut or sesame oil for high heat, olive for medium heat, butter for low heat). *certain oils heat up differently. If your oil is smoking, its too hot and can be caustic, cancer causing or bad for you.
The beauty about cooking in an iron skillet is that you "season" them each time you cook in them. Seasoning is used to protect bare cast iron from rust, and to create a non-stick surface. For more on cast iron and it's history click here to go to wikipedia. By adding the oil you use to cook, it seeps into the iron and seals it up, so you don't get rust.
I sometimes cook things in them and then eat straight out of them; it saves on dishes. Speaking of which you NEVER want to wash your skillet with soap. The soap will emulsify the oils and you'll have to re-season your skillet. All you have to do, to clean your iron skillet, is wipe it out with some warm water when your done with it. Some items, specifically cheesy items, might take a little forceful scrubbing with a soft sponge or rag but NEVER any soap. Also, if you do eat directly out of your skillet; and are using metal utensils, be careful not to scratch it (we usually use wood for cooking). Although, I've never seen our metal spatula do any damage from making contact with the iron.
Skillets in use (images from my other blog; renamefood.blogspot.com)
NOW HERE'S THE BEST NEWS!
You can find a cast iron skillet at almost ANY thrift store for under $10! They might look beat up or rusty, but all you need to do is re-season them ONCE. Check for major cracks or dents, a little rust is fine. Go home, scrub with steel wool and soap. Slather on the oil (coconut oil worked best for me) and some salt. Heat up on your stove top. Cover the entire inner surface of iron with liquid hot oil allow to heat evenly. You can also add it to the oven and bake in the salt and oil mixture. Click here for specific steps on how to season an iron skillet/pan.
Cast Iron Skillets release Iron into your food; good news for Vegetarians and Vegans and Women. CIS don't leach toxins into your food; good news for health advocates. CIS don't have to be as thoroughly washed as other items; good news for busy people. CIS are best after years of use, hence thrift store savings; good news for people on budgets. CIS are often found in thrift stores, meaning you're reusing; good news for environmentalists.
CIS are the most functional item in my kitchen, don't get me wrong I love my kitchenAid mixer and my food processor, but I could literally survive off just having these skillets- how cool is that?!
Happy Functional Friday and Cast Iron Skillet Cooking!!