The Day After T-day

A holiday for some of us, for which I am thankful.

Yesterday was a good day. Stuffing tasted great, a close facsimile of Mom’s but with added golden raisins, which works for me. A bit disappointed in the squash, which lacked that rich squashy flavor–can they be picked too soon? This one just lacked.

The cast-iron roast chicken was delicious, as usual. Onions, fennel, and leeks all caramelized, and the bird itself came out golden brown. My only mistake was in handling the brand-new cast iron pan. I should have removed the chicken and veggies right away, then added a little broth or wine or water to deglaze. Instead I let it sit until after dinner, which gave the detritus a change to cool and solidify and STICK LIKE LIVING HELL to the pan. I had seasoned it a bit prior to use–wiped it with cooking oil and put it in the 500F oven to heat. Given that and the fact that it was “pre-seasoned”, I thought things would be okay.

Sadly, no.

I was supposed to use a brush and coarse salt to abrade the gunk. After an hour of that, I gave up and committed the cardinal cast-iron sin of dish soap and water. Gunk dissolved in a snap, but since that likely took all the seasoning with it, I re-oiled the pan and put it in a 350F oven for a couple of hours. Who knows, I probably screwed that up, too.

Thing is, I have read and heard all the rapturous paeans concerning cast-iron cookery, but I have found that unless you use the pans consistently, seasoning becomes a chore more than a habit and the pans themselves a trial to use. I will likely give it one more try, but if it remains too much of a pain I will either go back to abusing my poor stainless steel casserole or looking into Lodge’s seasoned steel.

And yes, I know about using solid shortening for seasoning rather than oil, and setting the pans upside down over foil in the oven so that the excess drips out. There are, in fact as many methods of seasoning cast iron pans as there are varieties of pans. One could go cross-eyed as one tries to find definitive information on a Thanksgiving afternoon, scrubbing the &^%$#@ pan with one hand and typing keywords into search engines with the other.

Anyway, at least the chicken came out good.

I spent yesterday morning putting up the outdoor Christmas decorations: a couple of lighted wreaths on the house and lighted figures in and around the planter (a penguin, two spiral light trees, two reindeer). I didn’t feel like spending a chunk of Thanksgiving morning putting up the outdoor Christmas decorations, but near record-setting warmth was predicted–60s! Sunny!–and if you have to stand in the front yard and wrestle electrical cords, it’s better to do it in nice weather.

It was a good decision. By evening, the winds had picked up and the warmth had gone buhbye. This morning finds it about 30 degrees colder, still windy, and cloudy. At some point, the spiral tree that I had set up in the planter blew over, despite the four stakes I used to hold it in place. It will only take a few minutes to put right, but it’s that first blast of cold air I’m dreading. Maybe I’ll have another cup of coffee first.

It’s just nasty. At least it’s not snowing…although every once in a while, a few flakes drift past. I was going to get the Christmas tree today, but I just don’t feel like dealing with the cold and the wind, not to mention the crowds. Tomorrow will be bad enough, but I have to go out anyway so I will add “Christmas tree” to the list, along with garage wreath, gate wreaths, and maybe something for over the fireplace.

I love wreaths. I tend to leave them hanging until they’re brown and shedding needles like rain because I hate to take them down. Wreaths and gates. It’s a tic.

2 thoughts on “The Day After T-day”

  1. I’ve got two cast iron skillets that I leave out on the stove, because I use them so much. When I get stubborn stuck-on goo, I just fill with hot water and let sit for 10-15 minutes, then re-attack with the scrub brush. I’ve never had to re-season, but I do use them a lot.

  2. I think that’s the trick–you need to use the pans a lot. I tend to cook one major meal–a big pot of stew, a roast– once a week, then live off the leftovers, and those can usually be reheated in the microwave, oven, or small pot.

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