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Cooking With Cast Iron

That is absolutely someone else’s beautiful cooking–but the cast iron is even cooler with food in it. ūüôā

I got a set of cast iron pans from various family members for Christmas–from the darling tiny egg pan to the big-daddy grill pan. ¬†These pans are my first venture into the world of cast iron cookware. ¬†And at first, I will admit that I was a little intimidated. ¬†Cast iron is not quite the same gig as your average non-stick pan. ¬†Cast iron has rules. ¬†Cast iron needs care and attention. ¬†You can’t fill a cast iron pan and leave it to soak–unless you are fond of the taste of rust.

I noticed in the first week or so that I was kind of dodging the cast iron. Mind you, I asked for the cast iron.  This was an experience I opted into.  But I found myself overwhelmed by the idea of the cast iron care steps: let it cool, scrub it out, dry immediately, warm and add slight coat of oil to build seasoning.  And so I waffled for a bit.  But finally I decided to dive on in.  I challenged myself to only cook with my cast iron for a week.  No backsliding to the old, beat-up pans that I had.  In fact, I threw away several damaged pans, just to avoid the temptation to use them.

And I realized something interesting.  When I was using the cast iron daily, I started to really appreciate the routine that felt so overwhelming at first.  With each use, the cast iron is better seasoned, so it is easier to cook in. I appreciate how it translates the heat from my old electric stove into a smooth and even cook surface.  I like the process of tending to the cast iron when it is cool, the satisfaction of feeling as though I am investing time in something my kids might cook in in 20 years.  I like the way the neediness of the cast iron keeps me present and connected to this daily task.

What I recognized is that the cast iron is taking me through a regular mindfulness practice. Because it requires some routine care, I have to show up and engage when I cook with cast iron. ¬†I have to pay attention as I go through the process of cleaning up and putting my kitchen in order. ¬†I have to be present for the routine tasks. ¬†I realize that, by taking care of my cast iron, I’m putting time and energy into something that maybe my grandchildren will use. I love the routine of investing today in a connection to tomorrow. And there is a richness in mindfully participating in that routine.

Now, maybe you don’t want to sign up to cook with cast iron (but it’s amazing!). ¬†That’s fine. ¬†However, I would invite you to be curious and challenge yourself to find some things in your life that create a mindful experience for you. ¬†That force you to slow down and participate, instead of rushing through to the next challenge.

I’d love to hear what your “cast iron moments” are. ¬†Please feel free to share in the comments.

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