I love my cast iron skillets. I got mine from my Mammaw, and she used to used to do all sorts of culinary feats-- frying eggs, baking the best biscuits, ginger cakes, and cornbread, too! I try to let the pan inspire me, but only recently have I managed to bake a pan of cornbread that even halfway resembles hers. And biscuits? Fuhgeddaboudtit! It just doesn't work for me. Anyhow, for anyone out there who has even a mild curiosity about using cast iron, I highly recommend it. See below today's Hints from Heloise. She's always got great tips and tricks, and recipes that people use for years. This is what she had to say, and I must agree...I couldn't have said it better myself!
If yours is an old skillet, wash (no metal brushes or scrubbers, and just a drop of soap) and dry. Rub the inside, outside and lid (if it has one) with a very light coat of shortening, lard or light cooking oil. Aerosol spray should probably not be used due to the additives, which can cause the pan to become sticky.
If the skillet is new and has a protective coating on it, use a steel-wool scouring pad, soap and the hottest water possible to scrub it off, but only the first time.
Place the clean, oiled skillet in the oven upside down on an aluminum-covered baking sheet to catch oil drips. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour. Carefully use a dry cloth or paper towel to keep the surface evenly coated with oil. After baking, let the skillet cool in the oven.
When cleaning a cast-iron skillet, be sure it is cool before doing so, and use a nonmetallic scrubber. Many people use salt as a scrubber or use mild dish soap (only before seasoning, not after every use, most professionals agree), rinse well and dry. Do not soak, let water sit in it or put iron cookware in the dishwasher.
If food is sticking, it is not seasoned correctly. If the food turns black, it's time to re-season.
Store skillets stacked with a paper towel or paper plate between each one to absorb moisture, and leave the lid off. Keep your skillets clean and seasoned, and they will last for generations to come!
PS: Cornbread baked in a cast-iron skillet is simply the best!