Thanks for reading.
Just bought my first cast iron pan (it's a Lodge, so I understand that it's a little rougher to start than the old cast iron brands) and I'm determined to make it work! It came "preseasoned" but after giving it an initial good wash with soap (gasp!) and a scrub brush I reseasoned it 4 times using lard and baking it in the oven. I applied a super thin coat of melted lard to the entire pan inside and out and baked it for 30 mins at 375, then 30 more mins at 425 for a total of 1 hr., allowing it to cool for 2.5 hrs in the oven in between layers. I wanted to make sure I had a nice coating of seasoning on it before my first use. It was black and shiny, no flaking, not sticky to the touch anywhere so I assumed I did a pretty good job. Although I could tell that it was by no means smooth or glassy looking. So today I decided I'd give it a try and make eggs. Though it wasn't a total disaster it didn't go as well as I had hoped. I put a little lard in my preheated pan and smeared it around (did the water test first to be sure my pan wasn't too hot or not hot enough), and then cracked my egg into it. And though I was able to remove my egg from the pan without completely destroying the over easy egg, there was still much to be desired in the department of sticking to the pan. I cleaned it while the pan was still hot/warm, using hot water, even tried using salt. But I still had to pull out the scrubber and use some elbow grease to remove the stuck egg. And as you can guess, I removed a large amount of my seasoning in the process. I have read tons and tons of information (Chowhound boards included) over the past couple weeks regarding seasoning, cleaning, cooking, and caring for cast iron and I feel pretty confident about using it but am looking for a little more help because I really don't like the idea of having to scrub off my seasoning everytime I use it in order to get a clean pan, it seems pretty counterproductive. Is it ever okay to leave a little junk behind? I had it cleaned to a point where no more food was coming off without scrubbing hard, would it have been okay to leave it at that point? Will seasoning it in the oven as much as I can (when not actually cooking in it) help the process? I really don't mind doing it, in fact I sort of enjoy it. I also understand that using a metal flat edged spatula is best as this over time helps smooth the surface so no plastic will be used here. And finally, I read that bringing food closer to a room temperature helps lessen the stickage, which I totally forgot this first time around. Could that have made the difference if I had warmed them a little bit instead of straight from the refrig like I did? Thank you for any advice you can offer!