Skillet Love

Summer Skillet

I used to think cast iron skillets were for frying chicken. Bacon and eggs. Steak. Spam. (And some pretty decent hashbrowns.)

Then Mom gave me these cherished relics — the lil’ Griswold skillet (above), and the Sperry griddle and larger “Never Break” skillet (below.)

Skillet Love 1

Generations of women cooked ‘real food’ in these pans — Mom, Grandma, and Mrs. Rogers (my piano teacher, to whom the “Never Break” belonged) — and I’m honored to be next in line. Considering that Mrs. Rogers was approaching 80 when I was a mere babe in the kitchen (my last piano lesson was over 40 years ago), I’d say her skillet was well-seasoned. The others, too.

Come to think of it, so am I. ;)

I can still ‘see’ Mom cooking breakfasts in that lil’ skillet, and one of my favorites was a Bohemian pancake (of sorts) called “Schmun.” I have no idea if the spelling is correct, but it was fun Googling it… amazing what you can find out about folks when your Czech is rusty or non-existent!

Schmun consists of 2 eggs lightly beaten, a cup of milk, a cup of flour, and a pinch of salt, whisked ’til smooth and fried to golden goodness in a liberally buttered hot cast iron skillet. About mid-way through, you start cutting the ‘big pancake’ into smaller pieces — similar to when the smaller space ships broke off from the Mother Ship in “Independence Day” — and continue frying the ‘independent’ pieces until all the sides are nicely browned. Add more butter… if needed? (That wasn’t a trick question.) Serve immediately with warm maple syrup.

I cooked with that skillet for the first time when I made meals for my folks on the ol’ Norge last year, and it primarily served as a sauté pan. (Mom developed a penchant for microwave cooking during the last decade and got rid of her ‘other’ pans.) Thanks heavens she kept the cast iron! I had yet to discover its wonders.

Then, last fall my sister came bearing a heavy box when she visited. Not only had Mom sent the skillets and griddle, she included two slightly battered lids — one large and one small. Anybody remember those? (I sent the larger one back with my Sis for her efforts, and to share the skillet love!)

Skillet Love 2

Lo and behold this summer, my garden began producing a bounty of veggies — particularly grape tomatoes, or so the label said. (They’re more the size of a plum tomato!) Previous assumptions ‘cast’ aside (I know…), I began to experiment with my skillet stash with divine results.

Tomatoes 1

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, some sliced tomatoes combined with summer squash, a sprinkle of cracked pepper and sea salt (or Pink Himalayan), and possibly Greek seasoning (or whatever ‘flavor of the day’ tickles my fancy — my adjunct seasonings vary every time, such fun!), and in ten minutes or less supper’s on the table. (Or at least my supper… ) The kitchen also doesn’t heat up from steaming and/or roasting.

I adore cast iron cooking!

No need to be concerned about tomato’s acidity on the skillets — or me. (By the way, that’s not intended as ‘medical advice.’) I did some research and nearly every article said it was a matter of ‘seasoning’ to thwart any ill-effects. Start with a well-seasoned skillet; re-season as needed. FYI, the contrary articles said ‘use your judgment.’ Done deal. I’m pretty sure my skillets have built up a protective coating after a century — plus I take good care of them. (And me!)

I’m reaping the flavorful benefits of kitchen savvy and cooking vessels from women I’ve long admired — that goes for you, too, Sis! — and I’m loving it.

Summer Skillet 2

Enjoying a lil’ skillet love,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

12 thoughts on “Skillet Love

  1. How wonderful to have those old skillets. I so wish I had my mother’s old pans. I do think they cook so much better than the pans you can buy in the stores these days which I think are just rubbish. Those old cast-iron skillets go on and on and on and are so beautiful to cook with xx

  2. Mm, is there anything a skillet cannot do? (Tangled taught me it is a great weapon too!)
    Yours is a better idea though my friend :D
    Delicious way to use it for cooking!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  3. Now Miss Kim…you just know you’re hitting all my hot buttons w/this post! I mean give me a well-seasoned vintage cast iron skillet, those that have generations of cooking history, and I’m close to nirvana!! Just speaks to ya, huh? xoxo

  4. I have a flat skillet much like your smaller one & although I’m not crazy about the weight, I LOVE it for cooking. Not having very high sides, it was bought as a crepe pan but I use it for everything. I would guess that your pans have been well seasoned by now.

  5. I have been shopping for a new cast iron skillet for months. I can’t find the right one. It’s a huge decision as it will last a lifetime. :)

  6. How wonderful! I know you must feel the love every time you use your new…well new to you cast iron skillet! I, for one, am glad that you are a well seasoned woman! I learn so much from your delicious writing. I am working my way to be well seasoned myself. It is something to be proud of!
    As a side not: I have add two or three “mislabeled” tomato plants this year as well. Says one thing but when I look at them it seems to be something completely different….must be in the air! ;)

  7. I understand your love of the old cast iron, Kim. I have a round, flat griddle that was my grandmother’s and two other skillets that were my Mom’s. I cherish them and use them often. Some things are just made to be cooked in cast iron. I always tell my students if you see one at a garage sale, pick it up as they are indestructible and can always be restored. If cared for properly, they last forever. Thanks for this sweet post.

  8. Dear Kim,

    I love cooking with cast iron because a little energy goes such a long way and heat distribution is so even, not to mention that rustic and wholesomeness of the food afterwards. It’s even more meaningful you are using things which have lasted for generations.

  9. Mmmm…… can I build muscles with those cast iron skillets? Somehow I get the idea that it’s kinda heavy. Have you tried lifting those woks used by Chinese Chefs? It’s super heavy! Lol!

  10. I adore things that are passed down… I have a few items from my nana that I cherish! AND Oh how I love a good skillet! I don’t have one, but my pan is amazing and I couldn’t live without it! I can’t wait to see all the recipes that you make in yours, adding to the years of cooking love that has already been made in them! Liz x

  11. Those vintage skillets are so photogenic! Wish I could borrow them during my shooting sessions :) I have a cast iron one but that is not seasoned enough yet.

    Loved your simple ‘supper’ idea. My kinda supper. Simple, healthy yet satisfying :)

    Lovely post, Kim.

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