I inherited 2 lodge cast iron skillets (10" &12") from my mother after her passing a few years ago. It was a small thing that made me still feel connected to her after her sudden passing at age 49, my mom couldn't cook very well but I'll be damned if she didn't use those skillets to make some of her best food (fried potatoes and onions, those nearly charcoal hot dogs that I as an adult still want and some of the best bacon I've ever had). My dad never missed an opportunity to mention that those Lodge's were his old camping pans and that my mom stole them for the kitchen after they were married. They are from the 70's and are caked on with 40+ years of uneven and flaky seasoning and are black as night. They are my most precious cooking tools even though they aren't the best quality.
And that (quality) brings me to my real question. I know that my moms pans are perfectly acceptable, and will last me the rest of my lifetime but the seasoning is caked on in some places and shows evidence of previous flaking in others and then build up overtop of that. They are more non-stick than new cast iron but eggs still stick. They are straight walled and don't have helper handles. I don't have the courage to refinish them myself, it would break my heart if I ruined them by trying to fix them (are their professional cast iron refurbishers?). Bottom line...I want new pans, better pans, pans of my own. With my mom passing so early in both of our lives I didn't have time to make much of a cookware legacy of my own. I have some great cookware that will stand up for a long time but I always intended to get my own Cast Iron.
I've scoured high and low for vintage Griswold's and Wagner Ware but the secret is long out on those pans and they are hard and expensive to come by. The name brand doesn't really matter to me (to an extent) but the functionality and quality do. Shorty before her death I had settled on getting a Smithey, and tabled it after she passed. I wanted something crafted in smaller batches and has a bit of personal BST in them. I originally looked at Finex because I am a Portlander and always want to support locally but their design just doesn't seem great. They are heavier than all get out and the shape and handles are awkward. I looked at Field Company Skillets and decided very superficially that they weren't as pretty as the Smithey's for the same cost. I display my cast iron and like my Staub's, the Smithey's look good and by all accounts preform well too.
Smithey is currenting selling a bundle of their 3 skillets (8",10",12") and I want nothing more than to purchase them but I have no room for that many skillets if I keep my mom's Lodge's, I could retire them back to their OG use as camping pans but where/how to store them where they won't rust when not being used often? I have one brother but he doesn't have the same kind of sentimentality and I already gifted him a new Lodge 10" for Christmas last year, though I am sure he would accept my moms pans if I asked him. My dad doesn't cook anymore and they simply wouldn't have the sentimental value to anyone else in the family. What's the etiquette on letting go of something so sentimental (to another family member, I would NEVER throw them away)? It breaks my heart just considering cooking with other pans instead of hers it but I don't want to be forced into a lifetime of something I"m not quite as happy with because of my sentimentality. This is by no means a dis to Lodge, they are great pans but I want something with a smooth machined finish. She was not a sentimental person at all and I'm sure she is yelling at me to buy the damn pans I want, but I am and I want to know what others have done/would do in my place?
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