Yesterday I read Rick Bragg’s, “Southern Journal”, at the end of the November issue of
Southern Living. In this issue he was talking about his mother and her refusal to cook “on new stuff”. For some time now I’ve realized the older I get the more I want to simplify my life. While some can’t wait for the latest technological gadget, I find myself drawn more towards a more traditional lifestyle.
The article got me thinking about the array of cast iron I’ve accumulated over recent years. Some are from my great-grandmother, MawMaw, some from my Granny, others we’ve purchased from garage sales, thrift stores or received from other people. Most are old but we do have a few new pieces as well.
Prior to moving to NE Georgia I was talking to a friend who lives in the area. She was talking about the outlet malls and the Le Creuset outlet. She seemed genuinely over joyed with this cookware and while I’m sure it’s great and they certainly are nice looking, I told her, “I have my Granny’s old cast irons.” She replied with, “But it’s Le Creuset.” I think that’s when I realized there is a huge difference between the things I value and what many other people value. That’s ok though, different strokes for different folks.
So why do I value things that are old? Why don’t I feel the need to run out and spend money on the latest and greatest, the “in” thing, the fancy, shamancy gadget? I don’t know, I wasn’t always in this mind set of “old” sometimes is better than “new”, but there’s something about having old family items. A living and useable piece of history, I find comforting, a little like a piece of them is here with me. When my husband and I cook fried chicken in those old skillets, it takes me back to my childhood when my family still lived just blocks away from my Granny. I remember picnics with cold fried chicken cooked in one of these skillets. The memory always makes me smile.
We use ours at least twice a week. We even cook pizza on them, no need a pizza stone, if you have a big enough pan, just stick it in the oven on high heat, place your pizza in the pan and stick back in the oven.
Tonight I’m making an Indian dish with chicken, okra and some left over pole beans and eggplant. I don’t have a clear direction on it yet but whatever it becomes, it will be just one warm dinner our of 100’s cooked in that old cast iron skillet.
My favorite quote from Rick Bragg’s article is, “Rust waits on idle metal. These pans, these skillets are never idle.”