The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

December 29, 2013

Krohn column: An iron-clad path to manliness

There is an unending array of kitchen gadgets, from Ginsu knives to high-end mixers, but nothing comes close to one of the oldest of utensils — cast iron cookware.

I admit to occasionally watching a shopping channel as they hawk kitchen products.

I don't buy anything, but it's entertaining and I admire how good the hosts are at making you believe you really need a banana slicer, a cordless warming tray, a zero-gravity magnetic spice rack, a Star Wars toaster that burns an impression of Darth Vader into your toast (yes, they actually have those) or an automatic pepper mill.

Really, if you're too lazy to turn a pepper mill by hand you are probably already living solely off Little Caesars and Banquet chicken and don't need a pepper mill anyway.

But no kitchen invention has held up like cast iron cookware, which have been around for more than 2,000 years.

I remember my grandmother hauling out the heavy iron skillets and filling her old farmhouse with savory smells.

Unlike the Teflon coated pans that scratch and wear out in a few years, the cast iron ones are indestructible, meaning you can use them for generations.

And they are the multi-tool of the kitchen, working on stove tops, in ovens, over coals, grilling, frying, searing and even baking bread.

With everything from muffin pans to skillets the size of a tractor tire, collecting cast iron can be a life-long habit. I've bought some new, but garage sales and second-hand store finds are best for picking up pieces for a few bucks to add to the collection on the cabin wall or cupboards at home.

It doesn't matter what they look like when you get them — scratches and decades of rust can be dispensed of with some salt and a little scrubbing. Then, a coating of oil and a couple of hours in a hot oven brings them back to their seasoned, stick-resistant prime condition.

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