Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Cast Iron? Part I

Okay, here's the part where I shamelessly promote things in my Etsy shop.

I've added my little Cast Iron Mitts to the shop and wanted to explain why I have such an affection for this kind of cookware. But the list of all the reasons why cast iron rocks grew longer and longer. So I decided to break it up into a few shorter posts and declare this to be "Cast Iron Week".
When I'm cooking I will reach for a cast iron pan 9 times out of 10. I do not own any non-stick cookware. Why?

(I was going to insert a picture of a dead parakeet here but it was just too gross.)

Because there is enough evidence that non-stick cookware is hazardous to your health to give me a healthy fear of it.

Cast iron builds a non-stick coating through the carbonization of fats; so over time it just gets better and better.

Non-stick cookware is made with perfluorochemicals (PFCs) which, when heated to a certain temperature, give off a toxic gas that is especially lethal to birds. DuPont (manufacturer of teflon) would like me (and you) to believe that this only happens at extreme temperatures not reached during normal use. They classify "normal" use as cooking over low to medium heat. So if you've ever set your non-stick pan on the burner and forgotten about it for a couple minutes... yup, you may have had polymer fume fever. No, I didn't just make that up.

I know that all my readers are brilliant, so I'm going to provide a link to both sides of the issue and let you make your own informed decision. For my family, I've decided that its just not worth the risk especially considering that there is a much better alternative out there.

Here is a link to where you can read about their independent tests.
I was thinking that instead of just being a know-it-all, I should share with you some practical information as well. So I thought about some of the recipes that I make in my cast iron pans. Then I realized I'd invited a food blogger to stop by the blog. uh-oh. So, even at risk of ridicule here is a recipe that I made in my skillet this weekend:
Fry Bread
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. shortening
3/4 cup milk
1. Combine dry ingredients. Cut in shortening. Add enough milk to make the dough come together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly.
2. Divide dough into 8 portions. Pat with hands until dough forms a round about 1/4 inch thick. Use your finger to poke a hole in the center.
3.Fry in about an inch of oil that is hot but not smoking. Turn only once, frying about 1 minute on each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
We had this with a pot of beans. Yum.
So much for shorter posts, eh?


  1. Oh YUM! This food blogger thinks this looks so good! Can you believe I've never made fry bread? I do make all my biscuits in cast iron, of course, which is a similar recipe. I'll definitely have to try this one.

  2. I guess Fry Bread is technically a deep fried biscuit. And I'm fine with that (maybe not when I'm 50 and my arteries slam shut). And I'm glad you think it sounds good since you are the foodie to whom I was referring.

  3. Sheesh, when you put it that way -- deep fried biscuit? How can you possibly go wrong? Now I'm hungry!

    And I love that you said "to whom" and avoided ending a sentence in a preposition. Good grammar is a fading art.