My mother-in-law said, “We have something for you, if you want it. I told Ray it was my dowry. We haven’t used them in a long time.” She was talking about the cast iron pan set that had belonged to Ray’s parents, or possibly even grandparents, and was passed down to them sometime after they were married. I guess she meant it was Ray’s dowry for her. And now, it is Sarah’s dowry for me, some 20-odd years after tying the knot.
“My god, yes! Thank you so much, Marge,” I said excitedly. I looked over the rusty and crusty pans. There were no cracks or chips, or anything a good scrubbing and seasoning wouldn’t fix. This was an interesting covered pan set I had not seen before. The bottom is an extra-deep skillet, and the top a shallower pan with a ridge along the edge that fits snugly inside the rim of the bottom. It wasn’t until I cleaned it up and prepared to photograph it that I noticed that the edges opposite the handles looked like a slot and bump that fit in it to form a hinge. Brilliant!
I gave them a good scrubbing with hot soapy water and scrub sponge. To season them, I wiped them down completely with vegetable oil and baked them in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes. Then, I removed them from the oven and allowed them to cool completely. I repeated this three more times to put a total four coats on over the next couple of days.
My cast iron collection now includes this set and a smaller 10″ skillet I inherited from my father that’s probably about 80 years old, a small dutch oven purchased at a yard sale for $5, and big Lodge 14″ skillet I received new as a gift. I have to say, it’s heavy, but I love cooking in this stuff. I’m gonna see if I can’t ween myself off the teflon for good.