Heavy Duty: Lodge Cast Iron

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When we travel, we learn the darndest stuff. On our drive home to Maryland from Tennessee last month, we learned that there is only one company in the USA making cast iron – which is a fabulous cookware, by the way. It’s even-cooking, durable and retains heat like a champ.

Lodge Cast Iron is based in Pittsburg, Tennessee and their entire line of products is manufactured in the States. We stopped by their factory store in Pigeon Forge, TN to browse, shop and chat with the staff. Everyone there adored Lodge cast iron. It was cool to be a store where the employees were truly enthusiastic about what they were selling – when they were talking to complete strangers.

Lodge makes Dutch ovens, skillets, cornbread molds, woks, griddles, grill pans and a full line of accessories. They even have fun novelty items – like a cast iron skillet butter warmer and another shaped like a guitar.

We already owned a Lodge dutch oven and griddle. We now have two more skillets, a butter warmer, a bread mold for cornbread and a smaller griddle.

Besides it’s superior cooking ability, there’s something else to love about Lodge cast iron: it will outlive you. Seriously. This cookware will last for generations. The DH has one piece from his great-aunt that’s in perfect working order and is over 50 years-old. He makes a mean vegan grilled cheese on that cast iron.

It’s wonderful to have a cooking tool that will last – so many gadgets and gizmos break or need replacement regularly. Stuff like that is landfill fodder. Cast iron is not – it’s heavy duty, hardcore cookware. Your kids will use your cast iron.

It’s easy to use and maintain, too. Before DH & I were together, I was intimidated by cast iron. I had heard it was a lot of work to season and clean- so I avoided it. That’s simply not true. It’s easy as pie to use and maintain. Lodge sells pre-seasoned cast iron now, too. And if you have your own cast iron, you can check out Lodge’s page on cast iron care.

Oh – and yes – cast iron will feel heavy to you at first it you’re accustomed to cooking on Teflon or aluminum cookware. Suck it up. Think of how buff your arms will be just from sauting some broccoli for dinner. It’s actually a bonus.

We loved that Lodge has an eco policy. They are making efforts to keep their business and community cleaner and greener. A big deal to eco-hippies like us. And they even have vegan recipes online. Try this Southern standard in your cast iron: Sourdough Biscuits. Or the Rosemary Red Potatoes.

You don’t have to travel to Tennessee to buy Lodge cast iron. You can get it all over the place at places like Amazon.com, CHEFS Catalog, Williams-Sonoma, Target, REI and Crate & Barrel. Or order from Lodge’s website. A great – and reasonably priced – gift for any cook or foodie on your holiday list. Heck, it’s a great gift for yourself.

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