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Cast-Iron vs Teflon

Cast-Iron Skills & Skilletsby Brady LoweFrom time to time I amaze myself with the simple facts, most of which are found sifting through books while visiting a favorite book store. On my recent visit to the reading emporium, I came across some cast-iron books and then my imagination began to take...From the historical perspective, cast-iron is 100% heritage and culture. Each of these cooking instruments are rich with stories and trusted recipes from parents, grandparents, even your great-grandparents (only if the pans could talk, what would they say?). Cast-iron cook like no other when perfectly seasoned, they provide an incredible cooking surface that browns, crisps, bakes, and best of all is non-stick. Remember, cast-iron does not mean un-healthy cooking contrary to our regional southern rituals. I currently cook in two different skillets, the first one belonged to my grandparents nanny whom died and left it to the family and another of which I bought at Richards Variety store about 5 years ago ($22) and hope to pass down to future generations. So, here are some points to the story....First go out and buy a Cast-Iron Skillet, do the homework, learn to season it (simpler than Saturday chores), read new recipes, experiment & transfer some of your favorite recipes to cast-iron and cook in it. Soon you will be enjoying what millions of people have been doing for centuries, "quick searing and tasty cooking in the slow food movement". I promise this will change your perspective on food in general, and over the next five years, you will consider cast-iron on most applications. What does Taste Network have on the horizon to assist? Well, during the Kudzu Supper Club Series, we have asked each chef to prepare one dish in cast-iron and pass along the recipe. Those recipes will be posted in the newsletter and on the website for your interpretation and cooking pleasure.Second, understand the difference between thin pans (Teflon) and cast-iron, and the effect on the environment. Cast-irons we buy once and they last FOREVER! Teflon pans with special non-stick coating that gets transferred to our food when we use metal spatulas, we are scratching little metal flakes into our food and then we digest them (YUCK!!!). The same Teflon pans we toss in the dishwasher, the ones we have to replace from time to time, the ones that end up in the trash. Lets fade Teflon out and heritage in.What I mean is this. As you fall in love with your Cast-Iron, the life expectancy on your Teflon gets better. Its kind of like having three favorite pairs of shoes to rotate all the time, you don't wear them out as fast. Manufacturers like Target prefer to sell Teflon pans because they know we need to purchase them over and over again as they wear out. Just think, how many pans have you bought since going out and living on your own? Take Target for example, do they want you to buy one pan and keep it forever and pass it along to your kids and so forth? Or, do they want you to come back year after year to buy new pans every two-three years? I don't want to continue the rant, but I hope this thought has you thinking about what am I truly saying?Don't boycott Teflon, just understand it for what it is? A pan to cook eggs in (don't use metal scrapers and don't put it in the dishwasher). Just add one or two cast-irons to your life and we promise to give you some great recipes from some amazing chefs over the course of the year. Over the course of your legacy, your cast-iron use and recipes reduce your environmental footprint while enhancing the life of another generation. I would love to hear your thoughts, if you have time to share, please reply...

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