Cast Iron Skillets and Beginnings

Chances are if you grew up down South, you know what a cast iron skillet is.  Growing up, it was common place to step foot into my Nana’s kitchen or even in the home I grew up in and see something cooking in a cast iron, whether it was some good ol’ streak-o-lean (if you don’t know what that is, google it) or a yummy peach cobbler.  Everything is better in a cast iron skillet, at least in my opinion.  And you can tell just by looking at a cast iron whether or not it has been well-loved and well used.

I remember when it came time to register for my wedding that a cast iron skillet was a must.  I was so excited when someone gifted it to me; I felt as though I had entered into the ranks of a true woman, just like all the good southern women who came before me.  I remember thinking that even if I never cooked one single thing in it, I still needed to keep it in my kitchen or better yet by my bed in the event that an intruder were to break into my house.  The cast iron skillet would be my first choice for a defense weapon.  One swing of that skillet upside someone’s head and they would be out for days.  Seriously, cast iron skillets are so dang heavy.

I’m embarrassed to admit that the first time I ever used my cast iron skillet, we were quite a few years into our marriage.  The cast iron skillet, which was once symbolic of some good home cooked meals, sat unused and unloved in the bottom of one of my kitchen cabinets, mainly because I had no idea where to start.  I remembered my Mama saying something about it needing to be “seasoned” before using it.  So, I googled “how to season your cast iron skillet” and sure enough the instructions were laid out for me step-by-step.  I seasoned that bad boy and then set out to make my first pone of cornbread to be used in my first ever made-from-scratch cornbread dressing (not to be confused with “stuffing”).

It was a success and I was very proud of myself to say the least, however, that cast iron skillet once again went back to its resting place in the bottom of a kitchen cabinet.  I used it from time to time but not with regularity and each time it felt like I was having to start back at the beginning with seasoning it and going through all the necessary steps before I could use it.  I remember thinking, if only I had inherited my Nana’s cast iron, one that had been used for years and no longer needed to be seasoned, then maybe I would cook with it more often.  It’s just that beginning step that gets me every single time; it’s too much work when I could find another pan that would work just as well even though the food wouldn’t taste half as good in it.  Because let’s be honest, beginnings and hard work are no fun.  I want my cast iron skillet to be many uses ahead from where it actually is.  I want the end result, without having to begin in the beginning.

The same goes with life, am I right?  We were talking about this the other night in our small group, about beginnings.  And my husband said something that was so simple yet profound…”We have to be ok with beginning in the beginning, it’s where we start.  We get frustrated for not being where we want to be right away, so we quit before we even get started.”  It made me think about my cast iron skillet and how I have to be ok with the beginning part, the seasoning part.  I want it to be just like my Nana’s, the one that was used for 20+ years, but she had a beginning with it.  I can’t compare my new skillet to someone else’s skillet that’s cooked hundreds of meals.  Just like I can’t compare my beginning to someone else’s end.  We have to be ok with beginning in the beginning because it’s where we start.



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