talking sweet to cast iron pans, and other things.

Cooking on a cast iron skillet can sometimes feel like being in an a relationship with a volatile friend. Most of the time the relationship is lovely and wonderful and then suddenly it sours and everything gets ruined. Okay, not everything, but definitely that frittata.

At my sister's house the cast iron skillets play a role that's closer to doting elderly aunt. The cast irons are hulking, gleaming things. My sister and her husband don't have to wipe them down with oil or whisper loving words to them. They just perform like the work horses they are.

But even if we've had tempestuous moments in the past, I'm proud to say that lately things with our cast iron skillets have evened out a bit. We've seasoned and seasoned again, we still coddle them with good oil-y rub, and one day soon, I swear I'll be brave enough to fry eggs in them without fear of catastrophe.

Here, a few tips:

Season. Even if your pan says its pre-seasoned, season anyway. Coat that thing with as much oil or vegetable shortening or grease as you can stomach, put it in the oven with a large cooking sheet underneath it, and let it cook at low heat for a good long time. Longer than you think. If you don't let it cook for long enough you risk a sticky mess. Burn, baby, burn.

Scrub, sans soap. Washing a pan without soap feels kind of creepy until you work really hard to season it, and then you'll never let a drop touch the thing. Hot water, a little bit of coarse salt and a scrub brush should be all you need to get off any burned bits.

Rub down. The trouble with giving a pan an olive oil rub down is the mess. We don't keep paper towels in our house, so a disposable option is out. Lately I've been using the same rag throughout the week and stowing it in a glass jar in between swipes. Less oily mess in the hamper, less questionably hygienic use of bath tissue..

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