Cast iron is heavy, finicky, and old and I am *completely* enamored by it. At any time I am surrounded by 20-50 pieces of it. Check out my Etsy shop to find my cast iron friends that are up for adoption right now. Now that I have called my cast iron “friends” and completely cemented my spot in the weirdo zone, the question is, “Why?”
I found myself asking this very question as I stared at a wall of hanging cast iron pieces and continued to consider it as I scrubbed the rust off of a poor, almost forgotten skillet. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
- Practicality. I won’t ruin it.
Most of the pieces in my collection have been lost in barns, covered in rust and who knows what else, and have been restored into completely beautiful and amazingly uses tools in my kitchen.
If I leave tonight’s pot roast mess in my favorite pot for a week, I still haven’t ruined it. If my kids steal it and use the same pot to carry toy cars around their play ground, they most likely won’t ruin it. Even if they leave it outside in a week long rain storm, it still probably won’t be ruined. Rust can be removed; the surface can be cleaned. Not that I would ever try any of these things (ok, maybe I have been guilty of the pot roast thing), but compare that to modern pots and pans that you buy at the big box stores. They won’t last. They will not survive my family. Cast iron can survive me. It can survive my kids.
There is nothing like knowing that the pan I am frying eggs in, my grandmother also used to make breakfast for my grandfather. When my great grandmother passed away, I stood in her farmhouse kitchen staring at the worn floor. At that very spot, her feet had so often stood to prepare food for her family and anyone else who needed it. I just stood there and stared and soaked in the memory of her. In that moment in my mind, her passion in serving her people was completely wrapped up in that worn floor and her hours of service to all around her. Using grandma’s cast iron is joining in and celebrating her in her passionate service.
Each piece has a story and a history. Some skillets that are still useful have prepared flap jacks for pioneers who crossed our great nation. Others have fed the dozen’s of farmer’s kids. Thanksgivings. Christmases. Birthdays. Many of our fondest memories are made around the table. Using cast iron seems to be joining in its history.
One day, I hope to pass cast iron pieces down to my kids and maybe, just maybe they’ll love joining in the history as well.