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Monday, October 28, 2013

Hotfoot it



Don’t ask me why I feel the need to write about cast iron, but I do.  This may go down as the most boring post ever, but here goes… 

We are committed fireplace folk in the fall and winter, but there’s a thing about fireplaces as most of you know.  They look good, but most of your heat goes up the chimney.  I have no idea why it took us so long, but finally, we purchased a cast iron fire back to retain heat and radiate it forward.  It arrived last week.
   
We figured if the fire back is anything like my cast iron pans, we’d be good to go.  Any chef will tell you cast iron offers uniform distribution and tons of heat, which, ehem, reminds me of a story. 

Years ago, I asked my husband for a cast iron pan for Christmas.  By then, we’d been married a while and let’s say he knew me to be selective—okay—high maintenance, as it pertains to things kitchen related.  So, when he discovered the cast iron pan I was looking for cost about twelve dollars, he figured he must have got it wrong.  That year I received a lovely fry pan made of anodized something-or-other in which he invested a small fortune.  It was great.  But the next year, I asked for a cast iron pan again and squealed when I unwrapped one.  My husband tells that story a lot.  He finishes with the line, “I can’t believe that’s all she wanted.” 
 
In a way, I can’t either.  But when I was in an antique store last week and my heart lifted at a display of cast iron pans, I got it.  Cast iron speaks to continuity.  My grandmother’s grandmother probably used cast iron.  Pioneers perched cast iron cooking pots over open flames, and shoveled coals onto dutch oven lids to bake. Mothers passed their cast iron down to daughters. The metal is pure and sturdy.  Season it well and it will last your whole life. Season it well and it will last another generation, too. It speaks to things warmhearted, griddle cakes, cornbread drenched in honey, caring and love. If I were to give cast iron human characteristics, I’d use words like steadfast, loyal, even and true.  And man, does it get hot.

But, back to the fireplace. Since there are no embers left under the grate, no coals radiating, the first fire of autumn doesn’t throw much heat.  But the other night when I inaugurated the season with the new fire back in place, warmth emanated across the room. For once, I didn’t have to spend an evening with my feet under a down blanket in spite of the fire roaring in the grate.  And long after the flames died down the room remained toasty.

Ah, the simple things.  I love to cook with cast iron and now I get to sit in front of it too. The metal may conjure warmhearted attributes, but the dreaded winter is coming.  I'm pretty sure I'll be spending the next few months blessing it for its warm-footed qualities, too.

15 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't think we have a cast iron skillet. My wife's never asked for one either. She'd probably hit me with it if I got her one for Christmas.
Glad the new backing for the fireplace works.

Bish Denham said...

Nothing like a toasty fire! I'd love to have a fireplace but our house doesn't have the place for one... sigh.

I have my grandmother's cast iron skillet. It is at maximum 80 years old, at minimum 60. Over the years I've collected a few more of different sizes that I rescued from flea markets, all rusty and looking like they'd never be worth anything. But they cleaned up beautifully and I use them all the time.

J.B. Chicoine said...

You make me want to get out my cast iron griddle and have an old-fashioned breakfast!

Yvonne Osborne said...

I love my cast iron frying pan that belonged to my mother and my grandmother before her. We unknowingly bought a glass top stove not realizing one can't use cast iron on it. I would've NEVER bought it if I'd known that. So I like to tell everyone, if you like to cooke with cast iron, don't but buy glass top stoves. I can still use it in the oven, but that isn't the same. I enjoyed your story, not boring at all. The best things are often the cheapest.

Old Kitty said...

Awwwww love how you got a cast iron pan from your hubby! Now that's love! Take care
x

Anne Gallagher said...

I unfortunately had to leave my all my cast irons behind when I moved. (They were supposed to come in a later truck but were thrown out.) Maybe someday I'll get more.

As for the fireplace, the insert I want is the same, but expensive. However, I know if I get it, it will heat my whole house.

Robin said...

This post wasn't remotely boring. My grandmother cooked with cast iron. My mother cooked with cast iron. And I have at least one cast iron skillet and griddle. It does get hot!!! I really didn't think about continuity and cast iron until I read this post. You know, I bet my great grandmothers cooked with cast iron, too!!! Cast iron might be one of the only things still functional from a bygone time.

And I am so glad you found a solution to your heat going up the chimney. You might very well see a lower heating bill this winter. And that is nothing to sneeze at, Miss Liza!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I dread winter also and I love a fire in the evening.

'Yellow Rose' Jasmine said...

Another non-winter type here. This year I'm concentrating on how fast I'll be thinking of Spring and how the earth will be waking up from a long slumber once again.
I love heat, in all forms. Your fireplace backer sounds wonderful.

Kittie Howard said...

Oh but your post made me smile--all the goodness that sturdiness brings. *sighs*

And hub's dreaming about a bright light at the end of the World Series tunnel!

Carol Kilgore said...

I didn't know cast iron fire backs existed. They make perfect sense. Here in South Texas, we don't make much use of our fireplace, but we have lived in places where we did. I wish we would have had one then.

glnroz said...

cast iron,,, yep,, I over-do it. The Boss finally made me start hanging my cast iron treasures in the attic of the store house (on hooks).(except the necessary ones.) Fireplace box is steel but gets too hot for down here..lol

mshatch said...

We had a fireplace when I was a kid and I swear I spent more time lying in front of it with a book. I miss having a fireplace. I am however, fortunate to have a good cast iron fry pan, which used to belong to my mom.
:)

Robyn Campbell said...

I love my cast iron pans, Liza. They are wonderful and hold heat so evenly. I have a relative who got his wife a mop for their first Christmas. :-) However, they're still married. Hahaha. I think that first Christmas taught him a lot!Love the simple things. Aren't they wonderful?

Reena Walkling said...

I still have one cast iron skillet ... but have never never used it!