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Lets talk shop for a minute.

Siiri Talks Shop: what to use in the kitchen and why

There are so many blogs out there that give great cooking advice, recipes, feedback, tips and tricks, but I rarely hear people giving recommendations for the actual materials you’re cooking with.

So “Pot Rack” will be a type of post that allows discussion and exchange of ideas on equipment for cooking and eating.

Today I want to share one of my favorite things with you: a cast iron skillet.

There are probably thousands of recipes that are great for cooking in a cast iron skillet, but a couple come straight to the top of my list: corn bread, and braised chicken with a caper sauce.

Before I get to those recipes/meals, let me give you a couple of notes: You may have seen America’s Test Kitchen do an equipment corner segment on cast iron skillets, to test which one is the “best.” And this is fine. Take their recommendations. But, it can be easier. Two things to remember when looking for a cast iron skillet: (1)pre-seasoned is key and (2)the older the better.

The pre-seasoned attribute (which can be purchased new) adds to the overall flavor and quality of dish. The age of the skillet which denotes how much it’s been used (in most cases) adds to the “non-stick” quality.

One more note: you don’t wash this in the dishwasher EVER, and you don’t wash it with a scrubber and soap. You wash it BY HAND, with scalding hot water, and if you must, a soap free wash cloth or soft sponge. Using soap can ruin the stick-free patina as well as strip out the pre-seasoned quality.

Now, cornbread is an old family fave. I’ve been having it since before I can remember….We had it on chili night, and I would soak a slick with butter and honey, then stick it in my chili so the bottom would soak up the savory flavors. It was basically the 4th of July in my mouth. YUM.

Now, I’m from Seattle, so I don’t pretend to have a great secret recipe for this or anything. But, now is the time of year to be making this. You can really go two ways here: buy the Jiffy box mix, which serves you JUST FINE. It’s really good, and that’s why it’s been around for who knows how many decades. Somehow, the price is still only $.69 a box.

The other way to go is someone’s mother’s or grandma’s recipe. That’s what we’re going to do this time around. Stay tuned next week for Lauren’s mom (Cathy aka MomBun) recipe. Lauren’s birthday is this Saturday (yes, Halloween) and Cathy sent her a birthday present in the mail that was a little worse for wear when it arrived (the box was torn up a bit and we could see the corner of the cast iron skillet. Lauren predicts the recipe and mix are also in the box, but has to wait till Saturday to open.)

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Lauren will be guest posting for us, with MomBum’s recipe, her favorite memory and tips for making the best cast iron skillet corn bread.

The week after that, we’ll discuss the second recipe: braised chicken in a caper sauce.

Any questions, comments, feedback? Discuss!

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