Ah the cast iron pan; bane of my childhood dishwashing career; revitalized culinary accoutrement.\nGrowing up, there was nothing I loathed more than cleaning our old cast iron pan. As a child, I failed to understand the balance of strength, heat conductivity and non-stick super powers cast iron possesses; all I knew was that it was heavy and there were lots of rules about cleaning it. During my tenure as a college student, my relationship with cast iron cooking was reignited when my friends and I would make large batches of stew in my newly acquired Dutch oven. I cringe as I recall scrubbing burnt bits of stew from my Dutch oven in the nearest creek, using, gulp, steel wool.\n-My favorite Lodge cast iron skillet\nToday, my Dutch oven is an indispensable part of my kitchen’s arsenal. The steady, high heat of cast iron is the perfect tool to sear a roast before slow cooking it in the oven; it makes quick work of stir fry thanks to its ability to maintain high heat. My favorite application for cast iron, however, is making desserts. That’s right, desserts. At least once a summer I think it’s a good idea to invest in a whole box or flat of fresh fruit- damn those CSA’s! Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your taste buds, the fruit usually all ripens at the same time. As I am not a canner, the second best application for excess quantities of ripe fruit, in my humble opinion, is to make a crisp! The epic peach cobbler of 2012; the blackberry crisp of 2015; what will it be this year? While I cannot predict the fruit I will inevitably over-purchase, not be able to eat then mix into a fabulous campfire treat, I can tell you that cooking with cast iron is easier than many believe.\n -Rhubarb on the chopping block.\nIf you long to reconnect with grandma’s old skillet or dust off your Dutch oven of yore, follow these five simple steps to cast iron cooking to keep your pans in tip top shape.\n\n\nSeason, season, season! The importance of seasoning your cast iron cookware cannot be overstated! The seasoning on a cast iron pan is the thin layer of oil which gives cast iron its non-stick properties. While most pans now come pre-seasoned, it’s a good idea to add your own layer of oil to a new pan. To season, simply rinse your pan with warm water then apply a thin layer of oil (flax seed, peanut, canola…) to the entire pan, outside and in. Place the pan upside down in a pre-heated 350° oven and allow to bake for one hour. Let the pan cool inside the oven before removing and wiping away any excess oil.\n\nLet the pan do its job! Cast iron is the best choice for cooking foods that benefit from a coating of cooking oil or contain a decent amount of fat themselves. Think juicy T-bones, bacon and basically anything that benefits from a nice dollop of butter. Cast iron also transfers easily to the oven which makes preparing desserts in it a breeze.\n\nDo not soak! As we all know, iron rusts. Therefore, soaking a cast iron pan to remove bits of stuck on food will adversely affect your pan. The best method for removing food bits is to scour your pan with a heavy dose of kosher salt and a sponge or cloth then rinse with warm water. Our tera scrapers are for accomplishing this task! If you have kept your pan in optimal condition, just wipe any leftover residue away with a dry cloth or paper towel.\n\nKeep it dry! While cast iron pans are tough as my 96-year-old grandmother, they need to be dried immediately after cleaning so they don’t start to rust. Place your wet pan on a stove top burner and allow the water to evaporate completely.\n\nMaintain that sheen! After following the cleaning and drying protocol, it is time to, yet again, season your pan. While your pan is still warm, use a cloth or paper towel to add a layer of oil to the entire piece. Note- the warmth helps the cast iron absorb the oil.\n\n -Hot, bubbly strawberry-rhubarb crisp.\nCooking with cast iron is one of life’s simple pleasures. With a few easy steps, your cast iron will live a long, fruitful life, being passed through the generations as a family heirloom.\n-Cast iron roasted cauliflower.\nHave experience cooking with cast iron? Leave us a comment below!