This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Friday Favorite: All Things Cast Iron

October 10th, 2014

It’s no secret that I love cast iron, you’ve probably noticed that it crops up in many of my cooking photos. I use my old Griswold cast iron skillet more than any other piece of cookware I own. It was left in the first house my parents bought back when I was only a few months old, my mom gave it to me many years ago. It has been used daily ever since. I cook anything and everything in it!
cast iron
Most recently I found a cast iron muffin pan and a corn stick pan (which I can’t wait to use). The muffin pan is great, I really have been happy with the way it has cooked both muffins and eggs when I used it.

One of the things I love about cast iron is that it is so versatile, you can fry bacon and eggs for breakfast, a toasted cheese sandwich for lunch, tuna steak for dinner and a pandowdy for dessert.

cast iron 2

Whenever possible I use cast iron for cooking, mostly because I love the way it cooks and it’s non toxic. No worries about non-stick coating coming off. As a result of my love of cast iron I have collected various pieces including cast iron bread pans and a cast iron pizza pan that gets used as a skillet on the stove top and as a cookie sheet in the oven, along with a collection of smaller skillets and one very small dutch oven.

One of the reasons I love cast iron is that it’s durable, it will last you the rest of your life and you can pass it on to future generations. The skillet in the front below, was the one gifted to me by my mom. It’s a Griswold and nearest I can tell is that it was made sometime in the 1920’s. Cast iron will also replace your microwave and toaster in the kitchen, if you’re into downsizing and minimizing a cast iron skillet or two will go a long way in your efforts of pairing down in the kitchen. Leftovers heat up like a dream and you really can’t get a better piece of toast!
cast iron 3
I find a cast iron skillet to be so versatile, when I travel it goes with me, it’s the only pan I carry. My trusty Griswold has been across the country in just about every direction. It has cooked eggs for breakfast in over 30 different states.
camping cast iron
My skillet is even used as my popcorn popper!
cast iron 5
Cast iron cookware also cooks like a dream. If you keep the skillet properly seasoned you just can’t beat the way it cooks an egg, mushrooms, or a steak. It’s also a healthy option for cooking, because it’s not adding weird chemicals into your food like non-stick and another kinds of cookware does. You want to make sure you buy vintage cast iron or cookware that’s made by a reputable company if you’re buying new otherwise you may not be getting great quality.
cast iron 1
Another beautiful thing about cast iron is that is goes from stovetop, to oven, to table with ease. It heats evenly helping you cook food to perfection and then keeps it warm at the table, doing it all with classic beauty that can only be achieved with time and frequent use.
The newest additions to my cast iron collection are a few Staub enameled dutch ovens Staub enameled dutch ovens Mr Chiots got me for Christmas a few years ago. I must admit, they’re as great as I expected. They have pretty much made my stainless steel pots gather dust. They are essentially stove top slow cookers, I often have a pot of soup bubbling away in one during the cold months. If the wood burner is on they can take the heat and bubble away cooking dinner while the stove warms the house. They are also perfect for baking the perfect artisan bread, mimicking an expensive steam oven, they were the missing peace in my quest to making perfect crusty bread at home!
bread in cast iron
As you can see my love affair with cast iron began long ago and only growers stronger with each day. In fact I love it so much that my go-to gift for newlyweds is always a pair of cast iron skills, both a new one and a vintage one, along with this beautiful cast iron cookbook filled with beautiful recipes and tips and techniques for using cast iron. In the card I always mention the long lasting durable qualities of cast iron along with wishes that their relationship also stands the test of time like a cast iron skillet.

Are you a cast iron cookware lover? 

23 Comments to “Friday Favorite: All Things Cast Iron”
  1. Tara on October 10, 2014 at 5:32 am

    My cast iron skillet is the *perfect* pancake pan :) I’d LOVE to find some loaf tins but sadly the haven’t appeared at any of the local thrift stores (and they are too expensive new).

    Reply to Tara's comment

  2. Adriana on October 10, 2014 at 7:36 am

    We also have a rather large collection of cast iron. The newest addition is something my husband is calling a popover pan, but it’s shallow and scalloped so I’m not so sure. The only piece missing for us is a dutch oven.

    Reply to Adriana's comment

  3. kristin @ going country on October 10, 2014 at 8:34 am

    For sure. Most of ours came with the house. The biggest skillet, I think 14 inches, dates to around 1890. It belonged to my husband’s great-mother, a renowned cook.

    I think the real key to the older cast ion skillets is that they were used with animal fat most of the time, which is really the only way to season them properly. Forget this “Coat in vegetable oil and bake.” Doesn’t work. The pans have to fry a lot of stuff in tallow or lard, and then they’re essentially non-stick.

    My MiL and husband have been experimenting with sourdough lately, and when my MiL baked her last batch of bread, she did one loaf on a cookie sheet and one in a cast iron dutch oven. The one from the dutch oven rose a lot higher and was a lot better.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  4. PennyAshevilleNC on October 10, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Our cast iron pans are handed down to us. Mom has a corn stick pan that I hope she will pass to me someday. remember the joy we had when that pan came out- corn bread wasn’t the same any other way :)

    Reply to PennyAshevilleNC's comment

  5. Annie on October 10, 2014 at 10:36 am

    Love cast iron! Growing up in the south we are taught to use it as soon as we are knee-high to a grasshopper! I agree with Kristin too; have to use fat to season one correctly.

    Reply to Annie's comment

  6. Brian S on October 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

    I love the idea of cooking with cast iron! We have been using cast iron to make cornbread for awhile, but recently we were given some old cast iron skillets from my grandmother that have been in the family for several decades. I am very excited to try cooking more things with cast iron, although I find it a little bit hard to get started. I will be sure to check out your book recommendation, it looks like it has some great info. I’m especially unsure of how to properly season cast iron, as I am unsure if these are well seasoned. Do you have any tips?

    Reply to Brian S's comment

  7. Maybelline on October 10, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Love cast iron. I have a couple of old skillets that need the barnacles removed from the outside. Do you recommend oven cleaner?

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

    • Susy on October 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      I personally don’t use oven cleaner, but I have heard it works. I have also heard that regular ammonia works wonders as well. I usually use one of those stainless steel scrubbers and work on a small section at a time, eventually they all come off. Another option it to throw it into the campfire. While I haven’t tried this method I have heard many people say it’s the best way. I have a smaller skillet that was given to me that has huge barnacles on it and was planning on trying this method in my wood burner as soon as we light a fire.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Donna A. on October 10, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Yes, yes, and YES! I love cooking with cast iron… and I need more of them! hehe…
    Sadly since parting with my old one I had to purchase a newer one… so it’s back to getting it reseasoned properly!
    I’m only having an issue when I cook some foods… I mean, it’s probably because it’s not fully non-stick just yet… but bacon leaves a terrible sticky mess that’s very difficult for me to scrape out.
    I’ll have to hunt down your podcast/posts about caring for cast iron. I don’t really remember how to rebuild that lovely smooth non-stick surface…

    but yeah, my husband now is completely spoiled when it comes to eggs. I cook mine with some salt, pepper, and dill on the cast iron in either bacon fat or butter. If/when we do go out and he get’s eggs, he’s always so disappointed. Hehe.

    Reply to Donna A.'s comment

  9. Lindsey @HalfDimeHomestead on October 10, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    I have a cast iron skillet and a dutch oven. Both get used somewhat as I am just now learning how to season/cook with both of them. I love how versatile they are!
    Plus, in the event of a household intruder, the skillet does double duty. If it’s good enough for Rupunzel, it’s good enough for me!

    Reply to Lindsey @HalfDimeHomestead's comment

  10. Terri on October 10, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    There is almost always a cast iron skillet sitting on our stove. We also have a couple of large oval griddles that are used heavily. I must admit that my favorite pieces are my bread pans. They are the only pans I use to bake bread. My first skillet was an old one given to me as a wedding gift. The woman who gave it to me told me every bride needed one but she would not say if it was for cooking or keeping husbands in line! I also agree that using some type of fat is the best way to season. My husband says the best seasoning is bacon. We would be lost without our cast iron.

    Reply to Terri's comment

  11. Machelle H on October 11, 2014 at 8:37 am

    You converted me through your podcast. I got rid of our toaster and now cook in cast iron every day. I couldn’t agree with you more. The more I cook with it the more I love it. We recently got a cast iron pizza pan and it makes the most delicious crisp crusts! The cast iron loaf pans are still on my wish list. Thank you for the beautiful pictures and inspiration to cook anything and everything in cast iron!

    Reply to Machelle H's comment

  12. Nita on October 11, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Yes! I inherited some pans and we have collected a fair amount of Griswold. I could. not. cook. without. my. cast iron. pans. :)

    Reply to Nita's comment

  13. Charlie@Seattle Trekker on October 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    You touched a lot of special memories; I really enjoyed your comments and the comments of your readers.

    Reply to Charlie@Seattle Trekker's comment

  14. Tom Wolfe on October 11, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    We’ve always used cast iron frying pans. I’m interested in the fact that you toast bread in them — don’t you find this damages the seasoning? Or do you have a dedicated pan for high temperatures, e.g. for tortilla cooking, etc.?

    Also I’m curious about using the bread pans. Have you ever had problems with the bread being stained from rust during the leavening process?

    For canoe tripping recently we purchased a cast aluminum dutch oven, which although a bit heavy is a lot lighter than iron and works really well.

    Reply to Tom Wolfe's comment

  15. Caroline on October 12, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I love, love, LOVE my cast iron skillet! I got it just about a year ago, it’s a Lodge pre-seasoned and it’s held up nicely. I do have to reseason it though, since I’ve been using the back end as a pizza stone – PERFECT pizza, crispy crust, gooey cheese, in just 6 minutes! I’m asking for a cast iron pizza pan for Christmas. Last Christmas my mother in law bought me a cast iron dutch oven, but I made lasagna in it and now it’s orange inside and I think it may need to be reseasoned. I’ll have to ask Doctor Google. Most recently I made Beef Stew in it. Yum!

    I can’t express my love of cast iron enough. I’ve always got my eyes open at garage sales and thrift stores. So far, no luck.

    Any advice on reseasoning? A good link perhaps?

    Reply to Caroline's comment

  16. Chris on October 14, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Yes, couldn’t live without our cast iron…you will love making corn bread in your new corn stick pan…corn bread looking like little corn on the cobs…too cool! I think one of the most beautiful comfort foods to make in a cast iron skillet is chicken pot pie!
    Love your gorgeous photos! Is that a shepards pie?

    Reply to Chris's comment

    • Susy on October 15, 2014 at 8:23 am

      Yes, shepherds pie it is with sausage from our pork and vegetables from our garden and the farmers market.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  17. Chris on October 15, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    :) Also, can you share your bread recipe shown in the last photo? We make the no knead bread every week in our cast enamel pot so am curious to compare recipes! It makes such a beautiful loaf, doesn’t it? :)

    PS. So glad you enjoyed the Seattle area, did you find that going after Labor day the crowds were thinner? I would have invited you down here to Gig Harbor but we were in Michigan almost all of Sept.

    Reply to Chris's comment

  18. Megan on October 16, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    I didn’t know I was missing out so much until I started cooking with cast iron! I have 3 skillets and two dutch ovens but I’m on the lookout for a few more items. My other favorite items are heavy enameled pots – between these and my cast iron, I rarely use my stainless steel pots anymore. And you’re right about finding a reputable quality brand, it makes all the difference.

    Also, I would love your recipe for dutch oven bread, it looks amazing!

    Reply to Megan's comment

  19. Chris on October 16, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Oh darn, looks like I won’t be making this one as I have no sourdough starter. :(
    Anyway, with our bread we find that if we sub a bottle of beer for the water, it gives the bread much more body and color. But use a good one! :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

  20. Doug on February 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Nice summary of all the things we can use cast iron for. I think the only one on your list that I haven’t tried is for popcorn.

    Reply to Doug's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
Fall Peas

My fall peas are just reaching the point where they're starting to fill out the pods. Truth be told I...