Somewhere deep in my DNA, there must be a blacksmith. I have a thing for heavy metal. Not the music variety, but cast iron. There's something very sensual and earthy about the smooth cool surface to the touch. On my latest trip to my local Gee-Dub (Goodwill Store) I found a 10 inch by 3 inch vintage cast iron skillet with years of lovely patina. It's marked Wagner Ware Sidney #8. The Wagner Manufacturing Company was founded in Sidney, Ohio in 1891. The name Wagner did not appear on skillets after 1922. From the style of the "W", it's safe to say mine is one of the older models.
If you don't own a cast iron skillet, it's well worth the time and money to invest in one. You can find old seasoned ones for sale on the internet, thrift stores, flea markets, or garage sales. Look for one that might look as if it has seen better days. If the pan is rusty or encrusted with grease, buy it anyway. With just a bit of gentle cleaning (I don't use a lot of soap) and a light swipe of vegetable oil, it will be luminous and ready for the kitchen. Plus, you'll be able to pass the pan on to your children and grandchildren.
Do I cook with it? Absolutely. I added it to my wonderful 12 inch family heirloom that's been cooking up Hoosier food for nearly a hundred years, and my little 7 inch garage sale find. Besides being an ideal heat conductor, cast iron cookware heats evenly and consistently, it is inexpensive and will last a lifetime (actually several lifetimes). I love that it goes from stove to oven, no special utensils are needed to cook in it, it won't warp, and cleanup is a cinch. A well-seasoned cast iron pan will only get better with age.
Since you can pop them in the oven, try making cobbler, corn bread, and even lasagna in your cast iron. One thing to remember, don't pour cold liquid into a hot skillet, or it will crack. Allow it to come to room temperature before adding water.
|my Wagner Ware Sidney #8|
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
Ralph Waldo Emerson