Here I am, half a world away from the woman who finally helped me ‘crack it’ using my cast iron frying pan! Let’s hear three cheers for the internet and blogs!!
I heard about the pan on Twitter, from Bizzy Lizzy who lives across the country in Canberra. What a world! Last Christmas it was the only thing on my ‘list’ and our dear daughter had wrestled it into the airport and onto the luggage belt from her home in Adelaide. It is heavy. I wanted to love it, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t use it without having an awful mess. Surely there was something I was missing. I didn’t grow up using a cast iron pan so I had no history from which to draw, but I did have a friend locally who uses cast iron cookware all the time. She offered to take it for a little while and see if she could figure out what I might be missing. After a few weeks she said they absolutely loved the pan and had no problems. Back to me.
No matter how I tried, the outcome was failure. Finally after complete frustration, I put it away. Sometimes the energies just aren’t working.
Then, in early November a blog post appeared on The Kitchens Garden, which many of you know. Celi, the ebullient and wise, published a description of how she uses her cast iron pans. Most of it my friend, Betty, had already told me, she is very experienced too. But the one small thing that made all the difference was that I needed to get the pan hotter! Simple, and yet, crucial. Celi recommended the pan be ‘smoking hot’—unlike myself 🙂
Betty had told me I also needed a metal egg slice (spatula, pancake turner), small if possible, but they are hard to find. It turned out I had one from my pre-married days, about 35 or 40 years ago! It had languished in the drawer for years, with only very occasional use, but I hadn’t thrown it away because I knew how rare they are to find. The head of it is about the size of my palm, and I have small hands.
So these two things, heat and utensil, were the magic keys to unlocking cast iron cooking ease. I now love my cast iron pan, made at the Solidteknics foundry here in Australia. It is very heavy, too heavy when full, for my arms to lift easily, but I use the two handed tennis shot and I’m home. I can also use the small egg slice, and a nice silicon spoon to lift things out and into the serving dish if necessary.
A couple of personal tips; I usually cook with ghee, but occasionally bacon fat or olive oil mixed with butter. After I’ve finished cooking, I put a bit of water in the pan, slosh it around, pour it out and then wipe the pan with a paper towel. The washing up is done! Using the clean side of the same towel, I wipe the pan with a bit of the ghee just to have it seasoned and ready for the next use. I never wash it with soap, just as everyone else will tell you.
Thanks Lizzy, thanks Betty, and thanks Celi!! Honestly, you have to be astounded that through social media, blogging and local friends a person can learn a whole new skill.
This is not an easy time of the year for many people. So make some time for yourself and your creative endeavours or your friends and family instead of worrying about the prefect gift or feast or decorations. Take a leaf out of this bloke’s book, decorate your Ute and call it ‘job done’. Happy Christmas to all.
Special thanks to Celia for hosting our monthly kitchen get together, this being her last to host. Visit her through the link and find other interesting kitchens around the world, and in future visit Maureen’s kitchen to continue the journey at the Orgasmic Chef.