While I was wandering through a thrift shop to see if I could find some good leisure camping supplies at bargain prices, I had a 25% off coupon in hand. The thrift store provided me with the coupon upon donating a closet full of designer jackets that were still in good condition but no longer needed once I retired from my clinical days. My hopes were that the jackets may be of use to someone just entering the working world on a budget!
Since I love to cook and bake… off I went to the kitchen pots and gadget area. To my delight my eye caught hold of a neglected heavy duty cast iron skillet. The price $14.99. I thought this item was marked a little high for a thrift shop but I picked the skillet up, checked it for defects, found that the skillet was actually in good shape, I placed the skillet in my basket. A pleasant lady shopping in the same aisle told me it was customer appreciation day and that everything in the store was 25% off. Since I love the thrill of the chase when there is a good price… I browsed through a few more aisles.
On check out, I had a 50% cotton tablecloth that reminded me of the late fifties/early sixties and it was in perfect condition… no stains, no wrinkles and a cute pattern… perfect for covering a picnic table before setting up a nice meal while camping! Other finds at the thrift store: a lightweight fold up camping stool, perfect to offer a fellow camper a seat should someone wander over to our campsite on an upcoming RV trip! Time for checkout with the cashier… My total purchase for this quick combined donation and shopping spree was under $20, including the local tax!
When I got home, I unloaded my treasures and headed straight to the kitchen to scrub up my sad looking skillet, hoping I was right about it being somewhat of a diamond in the rough. I applied hot soapy water, scrubbed the skillet well, then rinsed and patted it dry.
Seasoning the skillet
Next I preheated the convection oven to 350 degrees F and while the oven was heating up I applied a ‘thin' coat of vegetable oil to all sides of the skillet and the cast iron handle. I baked the skillet for 1 hour then left the skillet in the oven cool to cool down. When I removed the cooled skillet from the convection oven… Voila! I had a perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet.
Seasoning the skillet in the oven provides even heat that effectively sets the oil coating on all the surfaces. You may want to add protection to the oven to prevent any dripping of oil (which could cause a fire). To do this, place a baking sheet below the skillet and invert the skillet onto the baking sheet so that any oils drips into the baking pan.
The best way to keep your seasoned cast iron cookware in good shape is to use the cookware frequently! Every time you use the skillet or pan, apply a little oil or fat to the inside of the cooking surface of the skillet (or pan) while cooking or baking. The oil or fat will continue to add thin layers of protection which ‘naturally seasons' the cast iron cookware. Once you have developed a good layer of seasoning with repeated use … you will have a fine piece of cookware that is sealed and can now be used for most any cooking or baking need ~ even acidic foods will due well in well seasoned/sealed cast iron, avoiding the unpleasant metallic taste you may have experienced in an unseasoned/sealed cast iron pan. The benefits of properly adding thin layers of hardened oil protection to cast iron cookware is that you will be rewarded with a lifelong multi-use pan.
Cleaning a skillet
Initially, clean the cast iron cookware with hot soapy water, then rinse, dry the pan. Once the cast iron has been coated with oil and baked as above you only need to wipe the pan out well after cooking or wash with hot water, rinse and wipe dry. Do not let the pan sit or soak in water. If you see rust areas on the cast iron, season the cast iron skillet again just as you did above.
Cast iron skillets and pans can be a lifelong friend in the kitchen or an RV galley. Yes, they have some added weight so only select the sizes and type of pans or skillets that you will use most often… then use them frequently.
When going on a camping adventure, we place our cast iron in the storage area on the floor in the back of the rig wrapped in a clean bath towel. Never place cast iron cookware anywhere where it can fly out of a cupboard or cabinet and bonk you on the head. Camping is all about the adventure, not spending time in the Emergency Room getting stitches or treatment for a concussion.
For other helpful ideas about shopping, cooking or recipes to enjoy while camping, check out my NEW release cookbook:
My cookbook – Small Kitchen Big Flavors! is available at a great Introductory price of $17.95 plus S&H on Ebay and my blog site at : http:/smallkitchenbigflavorsblog.wordpress.com