I always wanted a cast iron skillet. I feel a kinship with them because they are so basic and necessary and heavy. I’m basic and necessary and heavy. Well, I’m basic and heavy, anyway. Necessary is debatable, depending on the mood of my immediate family. Don’t ask them today.
I’d watch cast iron skillets being used constantly on the Food Network by people who know what they’re doing and I’d think if only I had a cast iron skillet, I too could know what I’m doing and be a great cook. Or chef. Whatever. A cast iron skillet is the only thing keeping me from getting my own cooking show. That, and the fact that I rarely cook anything but pasta and chicken.
But you know what? When it comes right down to it, I don’t want my own cooking show. I don’t want to be on TV and have ten extra pounds added to my face. I do that just fine in the privacy of my own home. All I really want to do is make the perfect home fries. In my 41 years on this earth, I have yet to master that dish and I thought a cast iron skillet would be the answer to all my problems. Problems of a potato nature, to be specific. Because I don’t think cast iron will help my adult onset acne or hormonal surges or razor burn. But if I can make perfect home fries, I can deal with a hormonal wig out or two and some stubbly bumps and lead a relatively happy life.
There’s something to be said for setting the bar really low.
I’ve wanted a cast iron skillet forever and two months ago, I broke down and actually bought one. It’s made by Emeril Lagasse. Was that my first mistake? Should I have gotten another brand? I just thought that if Emeril had his face on it, it was bound to be good because he doesn’t strike me as the type that would sell out. Then again, I do periodically vacation at the Land of Denial where I am always a size six.
I did my research about how to cook in, and clean up, a cast iron skillet because I always do research before spending any money on anything. Why I always wind up with crap is beyond me but I think it has something to do with the universe hating me. Not that I’m paranoid. Because I’m not. But even if I was, it wouldn’t matter because being paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Keep that in mind that next time the universe decides to get a burr up its ass and smack you upside the head when no one is looking.
I dragged the skillet down the aisle to the register, happily paid for it and then dragged it to my car and heaved it into the trunk and drove straight home, excited to get to work on it. I wrenched my back wrestling it out of my trunk and lugged it into my kitchen and hoisted it onto my counter at which point I had to sit down and wait for the bright lights to stop blurring my vision and the sweat to evaporate off my body because I didn’t want to break my own rule of never doing anything when I am blind or sweaty.
Once I was dry and could see, I went about seasoning my skillet. I lighted rinsed it with water with no soap because all the websites declare that true aficionados of cast iron skillets do not use soap and I wanted to be an aficionado because I’d never been one before and it sounded important. But let me tell you, being an aficionado didn’t come easy to me because I really had to work quite hard to get over my mental thing about not using dish soap on stuff that not only touches my food but cooks it as well. I really don’t like to even think about not using dish soap unless I’m in my happy place because otherwise it makes me twitch and throw up a little in my mouth and unfortunately, my happy place is closed for repairs at the moment.
***shudder, heave, twitch, twitch, twitch, pass out***
Let’s move on.
Then I wiped it dry with a dish towel and stuck it in a 200° oven for thirty minutes to ensure it was completely dry. I broke my back after I bent over and lifted it out of my oven with huge awkward oven mitts in such a way so as not to burn myself. Did I mention that I have the arm strength of Gumby? It was all I could do not to drop it and crush my foot and thank God I didn’t because I had just had a pedicure and what a waste of money that would have been, to pay to have both my feet look pretty when only one would have been sufficient. I’m all about not wasting money. Well, I was. Before I went all Martha and bought a cast iron skillet.
While it was still hot, I took a paper towel and wiped the inside with vegetable oil because that’s what all the websites told me to do. Then I shouted every epitaph known to man when I realized those stupid websites were screwing with me because the paper towel snagged on the cast iron and left paper residue all over it.
See what I mean? Universe? Hating me? Paranoid? I don’t think so.
I cleaned out the skillet again, let it dry in the oven again, then used a washcloth to wipe it down with vegetable oil again and stuck it back in the oven again. Then Nate asked if I was aware that I kept forgetting to put dinner in the skillet before baking it. Then I asked Nate if he was aware that he kept forgetting to put thought into his words before speaking them. And if he continued to do so, I would not be held responsible for any cast iron skillet that found itself flung across the room. As far as a 200 pound skillet can be flung. So don’t go blaming me if you’re standing two inches in front of me and you get a mouth full of skillet.
Then I heated up the skillet and threw a couple of hundred water droplets on it, peering at them intently to ensure they were sizzling and dancing because to sizzle without dancing, or dance without sizzling, was UNACCEPTABLE according to the websites. So I stared at those droplets forever, trying to determine if they were actually sizzling or just bubbling without purpose. Were they actually dancing or just moving back and forth because they had no rhythm?
Hello, trees? Which way to the forest? Thank you.
When I determined that the droplets were doing a pretty good foxtrot, I added my butter, potatoes, onions and spices and shouted to Nate that he was going to eat his words right before eating the most mouth watering home fries on the entire east coast. Then I stood back to watch the magic.
And I watched that magic as it came swooping into my kitchen, laughed in my face, kicked me in the shins and drifted out the window on its way to Martha’s, leaving me scraping an inch of burnt potatoes, onions and hopes and dreams from the bottom of the skillet while my family ate cereal and toast in silence. Stupid ass magic.
This scenario repeated itself more times than I have space to blog about it, so you can breathe a sigh of relief.
After each time, I scraped the skillet of all the burnt food and my right arm now resembles that of Michael Phelps which makes me walk lopsided.
Lots of times I have to heat some water in the bottom of the skillet to make the burned crap scrape off easier. Then I sometimes have to use one of those Dobie pads to scrub the skillet but I only do it lightly because God forbid I do something to hurt the surface because then maybe my food wouldn’t burn and stick as nicely and evenly anymore and if there’s anything worse than burnt and stuck food, it’s uneven burnt and stuck food. From an obsessive compulsive point of view, anyway.
And I admit it … I resorted to using a tiny little bit of dish soap because I just couldn’t take the taste of my own vomit any longer. Don’t tell the other aficionados, okay?
I have seasoned that thing more times than I can remember because I have mentally blocked it out. I even followed Alli’s advice. Hi Alli! ((waving)) She suggested I heat a bunch of table salt in the bottom of my skillet for about twenty minutes. She warned me it would get a bit smokey so I warned Nate not to panic if the fire alarm went off and that a little oxygen deprivation was a small price to pay for a well seasoned cast iron skillet. And he asked if a well seasoned cast iron skillet was worth a $2500 deductible on our fire insurance policy, not to mention a two week stay in a mental health facility before the month was up. I ignored him.
Despite all of my best efforts, I can’t cook anything in this skillet without burning the sheer hell out of it. Exhibit 1: a simple dish of scrambled eggs and cheese:
I’ve had it.
UNCLE. UNCLE. UNCLE.
I have no more fight in me. My right arm is now hanging down to my foot and it’s kind of floppy.
I want to run over it with the Durango. The skillet, not my arm. I still like my arm but I hate that skillet and I want to destroy it. I’m just a little concerned that it’s possessed and would blow out a tire or two out of spite and I’m not sure how I’d explain that one to Nate since he doesn’t place any stock in my belief that inanimate objects have personal agendas.
Maybe I’ll just blow it up. Does Home Depot sell C-4? If not, who’s got directions to the nearest black market?