My Cast Iron Frying Pan

I’ve been cleaning out the frig this week (stuffed shells and ravioli from the freezer, fried rice to use up left-over rice), so I’ll be adding a few essential recipes to the blog even though I haven’t actually cooked them yet this year. But first a story . . .

Some of you may wonder whether my inspiration to keep a food diary came from the pile of recent “My Year With Food”-type books. You know, the year with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking or the Year Eating Locally or the Year in some marvelous French or Italian Cuisine. Actually, my inspiration came from the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

All the stories of loss and people escaping with only the clothes on their backs made me think about what I would really miss if some disaster struck my home. What should I have ready to grab before disaster hit? Of course the cats would be my first concern, but what about all the “things”. The books, CDs, LPs, tools, papers, photos, etc.?

When I thought about it I realized that what I would really want to rescue is my well-seasoned cast iron frying pan and my favorite recipes. I recognized in the stories about refugees cooking red beans & rice, or gumbo, or jambalaya to restore their sense of “home” that I would want to be able to do the same.

Twenty+ years ago I bought a set of three unseasoned cast iron frying pans for about $10. (Yes, this was before you could just pay extra and buy them pre-seasoned for you.) I carefully coated them in oil and baked them in the oven to start the seasoning process. Of course, the real seasoning came from years of use. I also discovered that the best way to keep them well-seasoned was occasionally to fry up a bunch of bacon. (Another reason I never lasted long as a vegetarian 🙂

The one I would want to take with me is the well-blackened, smooth to the point of being virtually non-stick, 10″ frying pan. I’m sure there are other kitchen gadgets, doodads, pans, and dishes that I would miss, but the well-seasoned frying pan is what I would grab before running out the door. Besides, it would make a good weapon if I needed to defend myself in a riot. 😛

As for the recipes, I knew I couldn’t take my whole bookshelf full of cookbooks plus the recipe card boxes plus the 12″ thick accordion file filled with loose pages of recipes. It occurred to me that I should make copies of all my favorite recipes and put them together into a single book. Of course having a digital backup would be good too. Thus began my project of typing up recipes some of which have already appeared on this blog.

Today I add a few more essentials: Mom’s (Dolores’) Meatballs/Meatloaf recipe and my variation on Evil Jungle Prince with Chicken from Keo’s Thai Cuisine.

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