Cast iron skillet – holy grail

Growing up in a Southern home, I know cast iron skillets.  My mom has had hers for at least 45 years.  As a teenager, I remember cooking Sunday breakfast (bacon and eggs) and Sunday supper (usually fried chicken).  I also remember scouring dried eggs or chicken crust from it because I was too lazy to rinse it out when it was hot.

What I didn’t appreciate then was the skillet never lost its shiny black interior — it was true non-stick.  The crud on the exterior is a different story!   Along side that skillet was grease pail.  I’d strain hot bacon grease or shortening into the grease pail every time I cooked and, of course, added some of that savory grease every time I started cooking.

Scrambling eggs, making gravy, sauteing onions, frying chicken, steaming greens …. the skillet was used for every dish and every dish started with bacon grease.

When away to college and forgot the 2 magic ingredients of my family’s kitchen.  Cast iron and bacon grease fell out of favor with the masses.

10 years ago, I missed that skillet and, honestly, was tired of buying and rebuying nonstick cookware that warped and scratched within 1-2 uses.  guess what?  People in Los Angeles apparently don’t use cast iron skillets — no Goodwill, Salvation Army or the 30+ antique stores I visited had any.  Really??  Is cast iron cooking banned like smoking in public places?  No nonstick skillet will sear a steak nearly as well as a cast iron skillet …. oh right, people in LA try not to eat steak.

I finally purchased 2 skillets off ebay at a price of $150+ each.  Desperate times, desperate measures.

Fast forward to a weekend in Leavenworth, Kansas — yes, home to the infamous prison — and a morning of antiquing.  Not only did I find cast iron skillets, I found 5 of them!  And a grit pot and a chili pot.  Talk about hitting the jackpot (no pun intended).  To make it even better, with the exception of the chili pot, each skillet was $8Yes, $8!  The cast iron gods smiled on me, I tell ya.

I did have to transport them back to LA but, again luck was with me.  My suitcase weighed 48 lbs, 2 lbs shy of the 50-lb limit!

next up, a bacon grease pail.

I followed the instructions on Men In Aprons, here:

4 Steps to Season cast iron skillet

Using kosher salt, distilled white vinegar and Crisco to season them.  My skillets (all 7 of them) are now seasoned, happily settled into their new home, ready to  revisit the dishes of my youth and test out new recipes.

I’m thankful to be of an age where I appreciate the small details of my youth, where I appreciate a small portion of comfort food and, more importantly, where I’m still able to lift cast iron skillets!   No wonder women of previous generations never worked out.




Holy Moly – I’m a Special Occasion!

Wouldn’t you know I took out a gorgeous filet mignon yesterday?  Thinking I’d have it for dinner with roasted asparagus (never mind the pee issue, this is one of my all-time favorite meals!).

Didn’t happen…I got sidetracked by my best ever polenta and had to eat most of the pot.  So this morning I resolved to have the filet and asparagus.  Until I got online and found this: Filet Mignon With Cabernet Cremini Sauce at  It didn’t include asparagus but it did include cremini mushrooms, shallots and red wine.

It also said this is a great recipe for a special occasion…well I am and boy am I glad I made this!  Simple, easy to pull together and delicious!

Simply served with sauteed kale and new potato.

I used Lasater Grassland filet ( and modified the recipe down to one serving.  Rounding out the plate was farmer’s market kale sauteed with garlic.


The wine used for both cooking and drinking was Bridesmaid 2006 Napa Valley Red Wine Blend.  Tasty but not great.  I think it’s peaked.  Still it held up for a the basis for the cabernet sauce, adding a little sweetness to the mushrooms and garlic.

This Bridesmaid 2006 Napa Valley Red Wine Blend has more Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend than the previous vintages.  The rest of the blend is comprised of Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Merlot.

The wine is rich, full-bodied, and well-balanced. The color is a dark plum and royal purple in the glass.  The nose opens with aromas of black fruits, mocha and spice.  The texture is rich and structured with flavors of plum, black cherry, cassis, dark chocolate, a clean earthiness, cigar box, and sweet vanilla oak. (courtesy of

Not a wine I’d showcase for Wine Wednesday but very nice with my Filet in Cabernet Sauce!

OH YES, I felt very special as I folded laundry and washed dishes ….. and pondered tomorrow’s dinner.  It must have asparagus.