Posted by: literallydelicious | March 5, 2010

Cookware and Williams Sonoma

Back again after a bit of an unexpected delay. Gee, you get away from the computer for one day, and suddenly it’s been a week!

For someone who loves to cook as much as I do, I’m not fussy about cookware or utensils. I do treasure my nonstick whisk (at the time I got it — a gift from Mom — they were virtually impossible to find; in pre-Internet days, she looked in every store in Tulsa that sold cooking stuff before finally stumbling across one at, of all places, a craft show). I learned to value a heavy pan after ruining a batch of delicious spaghetti sauce in a gorgeous stock pan that was too thin-bottomed for long cooking.

We still have most of the stainless cookware that Bob had before we were married, plus a few odds and ends added since then. I have one small cast iron pot with a lid that doubles as a skillet, but I pretty much only use it for these wonderful baked beans that take about 8-12 hours (!!) in the oven. They’re incredible, but for special occasions. Who’s got the time?

In need of a new Dutch oven or stock pan (reference the scorched spaghetti sauce), this week I bought a 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven with cast-iron lid. The thing’s a monster — I can barely lift it empty — but it’s pre-seasoned and a real beauty. I made Pork and Butternut Squash Stew in it the other night; it tasted great, nothing stuck and the pan cleaned up in a snap.

Which brings me to Williams Sonoma. Do you know you’re not supposed to wash cast iron with soap? I’d read somewhere that you could use soap on the new stuff, but the manufacturer says no way. You scrub it with a stiff brush under hot water, dry it, oil it and put it away in a cool, dark place. Bob, with his medical background, shuddered at the idea of not scrubbing it down with soap and cleanser (explaining why non-stick skillets don’t last long in our house), but I was determined to follow the rules. So I went to WS to buy a stiff brush. I found a silicone brush that I needed, and a honking big potato ricer that I’m convinced is going to make great spaetzle, but couldn’t locate the scrub brush. The sales person said no, no, you don’t need a brush; just use a rigid scraper with a rounded edge. Heck, I have two of those in the drawer, so I gave it a shot. I scraped . . . and scraped . . . did not work. So it was off to WalMart for a two-dollar scrub brush that works just fine.

But I did get to see the $35,000 range at WS. No room for it in my house — or my budget! — but I do like to drool over it when I can.

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Responses

  1. I’m with Bob. I wash my cast iron with soap and water, but dry it on a flame. Every now and then, I re-season it.

    • And the soap doesn’t seem to bother it?

      When I was a kid, we visited Mom’s best friend, who fried chicken for us. Naturally, my sisters and I cleaned up, and we scrubbed that cast iron skillet clean. I thought her friend was going to cry!! She never, never, ever let soap touch that skillet, and she was sure we’d ruined it. Thirty-some years later, I’m tempted to call her and ask how the pan’s doing. 🙂

  2. I wash mine with soap and use heat to dry it. (Flame, oven or electric stove, they all work.) Every now and then I add a little oil or Pam and let it continue to heat a while.
    But putting them in the dishwasher is a NO NO. That removes the seasoning and makes them rust. (I have a bunch of cast iron skillets. Some Mom bought me when I first moved out on my own, some Grandmother had and I adopted.)
    Where’d you get your 5 quart cast iron pot? I need a good big soup pot.

    • WalMart. They had a gorgeous 6-quart one but it was enameled on the outside, and I just kinda like the plain cast iron. (Plus it was that much heavier.)

      On my old cast iron, I washed it every time, then put it in the oven on 250 degrees for a while with a light coat of oil. But somehow I really screwed up on the seasoning on it. It got a really icky sticky coating of gunk on it. I had to strip it down bare and start all over again. {{Shudder}}

  3. But even if they lose their seasoning, they can be reseasoned. I’ll tell you a story about that sometime.

    • Aw, tell it now. I’m in need of a good story. 😉


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