This weekend, the youth minister at our church got married. She’s an adorable twenty-something who is super passionate about her faith, and her new hubby is equally adorable. (Now that I’m well into my 40s, I feel OK calling young people “adorable.”) I debated all variety of wedding gifts, and finally decided on a cooking pan. When I was a newlywed, in the previous century, the gift of a pan would have disappointed me because there’s nothing automatic about a stupid pan. It’s no bread machine or countertop ice cream maker.
And that’s exactly the point. A good, sturdy pan doesn’t work itself. This is what I attached to the box:
Dear (adorable newly married couple),
I thought a long while about a good wedding gift, something practical but thoughtful. This year, my hubby and I will have been married 20 years. We’re not experts. I wouldn’t hold our marriage up as an example of Constant Best Practice, but hey, we’ve made it for two decades. I thought about a crucifix for you guys as a constant reminder of self-sacrificing love, blah blah, but I would assume as practicing Roman Catholics you have several already. Ditto for a fancy rosary.
What you need is a cast iron frying pan. I come from a long line of Southern mothers, and cast iron is how we do.
Why a cast iron frying pan is a practical reminder of How to Do Marriage:
- If properly cared for, a cast iron pan lasts forever. You may even have to pass it onto your kids.
- It has to be seasoned first with some good fat. I recommend bacon, cooking with real butter, and frying some stuff. You can do this when you’re young and don’t have to worry about cholesterol and crap like that.
- There’s nothing artificial about cast iron. There will be no chemicals leaching into your food. It’s been around for thousands of years (literally) and so far, there isn’t a superior replacement. Cooking with it regularly even supplements your diet with iron.
- A cast iron pan can take some serious heat. Like, you can put this puppy directly in the oven or over a campfire. You can cook in your fireplace when the zombie apocalypse comes. Just remember to let your pan cool down slowly after high heat. Otherwise, it can crack.
- You can’t use soap to wash away a failed cooking attempt. You should only rinse with water & let it air dry. The mistakes become a part of the pan’s flavor and make it more complex.
- Don’t let it sit dirty overnight. Otherwise, the next time you make pancakes they’ll taste like fried salmon.
- If it starts to rust, which sometimes happens, scrub gently with some fine steel wool. You have to get back to black, use a little soap and warm water, and dry it well. Then you have to oil that puppy back up and put in the oven for an hour. Sometimes, a cast iron pan needs a good reboot. (Like at the Hotel Del Coronado for a weekend. With massages. And room service.)
- You can cook ANYTHING in this pan. Pizza, sausage, pancakes, eggs, steak, fish, roasted veggies, anything baked, anything fried, anything roasted, anything grilled. Cast iron makes any dish better. You can also use any kind of utensil. Cast iron can handle it.
- Wait: just be a little careful with tomato sauce, or anything super acidic. It slowly eats away at the seasoning you’ve carefully cultivated.
- In an emergency, it can be used for home defense. Against an intruder, I mean.
- With practice, you can make restaurant quality food, like seared steak. Spend the money for Prime cuts; don’t settle for Choice. You’ll only get high quality results from high quality ingredients. If you’re vegetarians, you suck and I want my pan back.
Never doubt the healing power of a good meal made at home. No, really. It’s nice to go out and be waited on, but it’s even nicer to be home and wait on each other.
Love, prayers, and blessings,
The Wright Stuff