Monday, September 01, 2008

Manic Monday - Iron

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Graphic by Janna

Growing up in the South, there was something that I could always count on. Grandma's fried potatoes. She made THE BEST fried potatoes in the universe. She cooked them in an iron skillet. She used this same skillet for most things she fried. They were made with just the right blend of bacon grease that she kept in an old coffee can on her stove top, onion, salt, and pepper. I remember as I got older and began to cook for myself I asked her to reveal the secret of her potatoes. She informed me that she stirred them with a wooden handled knife.

To re-create my grandmother's masterpiece, I started with a brand new iron skillet, some fresh bacon grease, chopped onion, salt, pepper, and a wooden handled knife to stir it all together. The result was something much less desirable than my grandmother's beloved creation.

The reason that the results were unfavorable is because my iron skillet was not "seasoned". Ya see you can't just go to the store, buy a new iron skillet and use it. You have to add some shortening to the skillet and heat it for at least an hour. If you must use your oven, you can do so, but using a fire outside is the best method. I found a link here explaining exactly how to season a cast iron skillet in the oven.

Once your skillet is seasoned, remember to never use soap and water on it. The best way to clean it is to just use hot water. If you happen to get food stuck to the bottom (you shouldn't if it is properly seasoned) you can fill it with hot water, put it on the stove and boil it. This should release the food from the bottom, if not use your spatula to help the process along. Once you've cleaned your skillet, heating it on the stove to dry will prevent rust. Just turn your burner on and let it heat your skillet. Sometimes I'll add a drop or two of oil and rub it in as the burner heats it up.

It may seem as though this is a lot of work for some good fried potatoes, but it is worth it in the end. An iron skillet also makes wonderful cornbread. I have never been able to make fried potatoes like my grandmother and I sure do miss them. But, I think that mine are A-Okay.

28 comments, add yours here:

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

great advice on cleaning the skillet. i have a wonderful one!!!

smiles, bee
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Stella said...

You are so right!! There is SUCH a difference between a new skillet and a seasoned one!!

Janna said...

What happens if you use soap and water on it???
I'm curious.

Kimmie said...

I don't have an iron skillet. I am going to have to get me one of those. :-) Thanks for the tips on seasoning it also.

She is still staying in her snug as a bug nice warm place? Well, Tuesday is just a day and a few hours away. :-)
Hugs Sweetie,
Kimmie

Crazy Working Mom said...

Thanks, Bee!

Stella, you're right on with that one.

Janna, if you use soap and water it'll take away the coating protective coating that you are trying to achieve when you season it.

Kimmie, they are a great investment.
I think this baby girl is snug and she isn't going anywhere. But, we'll get her here Tuesday hopefully! :)

Thanks to you all for stopping by!

MAGGIE AT COFFEESHOPMAFIA said...

I guess my prediction was wrong. Good luck on Tuesday morning! !

Hope you get some rest before than.

Clancy in Idaho said...

My grandma's thing that I miss is her salads and her gravy. (not together, though!) She made the most amazing of both... but I miss HER more than a thousand of her salads or a gallon of her gravy.

Thanks for the memories of your grandma! Good luck with the peanut!

splummer said...

Awesome story! Brought back lots of memories of my Grannie and my MOM. They both used iron skillets.

Matt-Man said...

Ha. My mom used to make them almost the same way, and yes in a cast iron skillet. And you're right, never use soap when cleaning them. Good Luck Tish. Cheers!!

Mimi Lenox said...

I love these stories! You did a great job with this one, Tish....uh...Tish...WHY are you still blogging today? As I said in my comments at Mimi Writes, you know I love ya but PLEASE for the sake of all that's blog holy go have the BABY!!!

Thus spaketh the Queen.
Don't make me come over there.

Mimi Lenox said...

My grandma taught me to make milk gravy and then put the chicken back in the skillet and ohhhh..how I miss her fried chicken. It was amazing and I've never had any like it anywhere.

Loved THIS POST.
Ok. I'm done now.

PaulsHealthBlog.com said...

We use an iron skillet to make yummy grilled cheese sandwiches! (On wheat bread, of course.)

My wife also uses it to cook breakfast on the weekends.

Josh said...

Hey Tish, best of luck in your labor & delivery!

Desert Songbird said...

You know, to this day I still do not own a cast iron skillet, and I've been married for quite a long time! Lazy, I guess.

Mo said...

Dang, girl, now I'm hungry for some home fries.
Great reminder on seasoning a cast iron pan!

Akelamalu said...

There's always at least one favourite recipe from a grandma. Apparently I make the best gravy in the entire universe! :)

Just wanted to say hope everything goes well tomorrow and I'm looking forward to seeing your new little girl. :)

Kimmie said...

Just Checkin! LOL!
Hugs,
Kimmie

Jamie said...

Even though it weighs a ton, there are some things that just can't be cooked properly without the cast iron skillet.

It was nice of you to include the "seasoning" instructions.

Travis said...

I think my cholesterol went up just reading this.

carol said...

I've been wanting to get a cast iron skillet for a few months now. I heard about seasoning it but didn't know that that meant. Thanks for the needed info.

TopChamp said...

I would like a skillet. I would also like to try real skilletted fried spuds as you've sold them well. I recently(ish) got a little griddle pan which I like a lot.

storyteller said...

Reading your post reminds me how much I loved cooking with my old cast iron skillets … before I moved into a house with an electric rather than gas stove. Things like potatoes just tasted better cooked in those skillets over gas. Happy Labor Day and best wishes to you.
Hugs and blessings,

Tina F said...

I, too, grew up on my mother & grandmother cooking with cast iron skillets. Honestly, that's the only thing they used. Now that I'm an adult, I prefer to cook with cast iron as well.

lucy said...

Great idea for the post and great suggestions...Thanks

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

My mother cooked in cast iron skillets all the time. Wouldn't cook with anything else. Now I'm hungry for fried potatoes. Big hug and lotsa lovies. :)

Roger said...

Oh that makes me hungry to, iron skillets are the best!

Your Pal Pinki said...

I love my cast iron.

Travis said...

I still don't have a cast iron skillet.