Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cast in Iron

Time flies, doesn't it? There are big changes afoot this year and it seems as though nothing is written in stone. Fewer dinner parties and more nesting suits me fine. There are new found friends and, rather sadly, lost or fading friends. Sometimes there is hardship or suffering, but personally I am finding the now a pleasant time of adjustment and a veritable cleaning out of the cobwebs. Dead wood and new buds, and like vines, new buds on old wood. My father passed away while I held him in my arms on a mid-summer's night, an hour short of his 84th Birthday. He had been afflicted for some good time but perhaps the saddest part was that he could not swallow and so could not eat. For a man who relished his own salads at lunch and dinner (a fondness for which he passed on to me amongst other things), this was a cruel turn of events. He loved the bonhomie of the table and the impromptu circus of his sons' antics that inevitably surfaced when we were all together and which he mischievously spurred on. Life will never be quite as complete without him.

It's been a whole summer between posts and, on the verge of feeling negligent, I realize that this has been an intense and eventful period in my life. Cooking for family on multiple trips out east, and to make sure I keep my strength up, I've been able to add some new dishes to my repertoire which I hope to share with you soon. Familiar friends came back into my cooking life in a big way recently and one of them is Lodge's cast iron cookware. Think of it as being like Le Creuset without the enamel coating, and indeed Lodge makes its own line of enameled ware. Cast iron developed a stigma due to the risk of it rusting and the ingrained oily buildup carrying rancid flavors and grit, but this is ironware that settled the Wild West and with proper care that is much easier than one might think, it can last forever. A Lodge skillet's unrivaled heat conduction is a real joy and rediscovery. Because it retains and radiates heat so very well I find it easier to clean than most enameled or non stick pans and the caramelization of juices and sugars is unbeatable. Up top is photo of a skillet and griddle on the stovetop, the skillet roasting some pepitas for a Mexican sauce.

More on all this soon. I'm leaving you with a picture of my first East Coast oysters of the season, pricey Blue Points from Fire Island in New York, a stand in for my beloved Washington State Hama Hamas. Pretty shells, plump cucumbery centers!