I’m really not that good of a cook and have even toyed with the idea of eliminating it from my life and therefore from this blog, but alas, Mr. Cozi is the voice of reason. After all, he has to eat. So, he and I joined the “Cooking Light Diet,” to help with meal planning and healthier recipes. Much to my surprise, most of our recipe choices have been prepared by cooking with a cast iron skillet.

Cooking with Cast Iron

I grew up cooking with cast iron and even inherited a small skillet from my grandmother when she passed away. But, when the much-loved teflon, non-stick cookware came out, I had to have a set of that and stored my cast iron in the back of the cabinet. For the most part I’ve loved my teflon, but now that I’ve been reintroduced to cast iron, I feel like a traitor to my cast-off skillets. But, one bit of encouragement comes from the fact that the “non-stick” lived up to its’ name. It didn’t stick with me forever.

As I re-educated myself on the use and care of my old favorite, a memory of a personal cast-iron calamity hit me in the head – like a frying pan. I was cleaning up after a meal with a friend that included fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, mashed potatoes, field peas and turnip greens. I was young and didn’t know at the time that there is a form of worship and reverence that consumes most southern cooks when it comes to these cooking heirlooms. I picked up their cast iron skillet and plunged it into a pan of soapy dishwater and was quickly reprimanded by its owner, “Never wash cast iron with soap!” I was certain that I had ruined every slice of fried green tomato from that day forward. Then I read this on The Kitchn.com:

“My cast iron pans are like my favorite pair of cowboy boots — they get better and more dear to me with every use.” ~ Chef Elizabeth Karmel

I understand the reverence afforded these much better now. Hoping that my cast-offs will improve with every use, I seasoned them all to get ready for the first meal.

Skillet with 2 Handles

To properly season a cast iron pan:

  • Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  • Wash new cast iron cookware with hot water and clean sponge.  Generously oil cookware with vegetable oil. Bake in oven for 1 hour. Remove skillet from oven and wipe with a paper towel to spread the oil around the pan, including the sides. Return to the oven and bake again for 1 hour. Remove from oven. Wipe excess oil off with paper towels, then allow to cool before storing.

Oven Mitts with Skillet

I use cardboard pieces placed between each piece to store my cast iron collection. (My oven mitts came from Harrod’s in London. I think they look great with the seasoned skillet, don’t you?)

Cast Iron Collection

The first thing I plan to cook is this delicious sounding recipe from Southern Living:

Pork Chops with Pepper Jelly Sauce

4 (3/4-inch-thick) bone-in pork loin chops (about 2 1/4 lb.)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup red pepper jelly

1. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter with oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops, and cook 8 minutes; turn and cook 10 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 150°. Remove from skillet, and keep warm.

2. Add flour and jalapeño to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until flour is golden brown. Add wine, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet; cook 1 minute or until almost completely reduced.

3. Add chicken broth, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. Whisk in pepper jelly until melted and smooth. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Return pork to skillet; turn to coat. Serve pork with sauce.

I may not like to cook, but I love trying new things – even if it’s an old tradition.