One of the best—and most unexpected—benefits of writing Modern Cast Iron is that I’ve met so many wonderful “skilletheads” through my site and on social media. One of my newest friends is Jeff Holbrook of the YouTube Channel FiredCastIron. After he shared his cast iron story with me, I asked if I could share it with you, too, and he agreed. So here’s the story of Jeff, his wife Dee, and why they started a fantastic YouTube channel all about cast-iron cooking. (All the pictures on this post were taken by the Holbrooks. They certainly know how to showcase good-looking, home-cooked food!)
What makes heavy, cast iron cookware appeal to a retired couple with mobility issues? We have more than 30 pieces of enameled and seasoned cast iron that we use almost daily for the cooking we love.
Cast Iron Tradition
My wife Dee and I were both raised on small farms in West Virginia and have been married for 37 years.
Growing up, a cast iron skillet lived on the stove. I love memories of bacon and eggs in the morning, and fried potatoes for supper. The cornbread and pineapple upside down cake were prepared in that same pan.
While we aren’t physically capable of operating a farm today, we live out in the country where rustic cooking and the old ways are still important. Cast iron is part of that tradition. Many old pans are handed down to grandchildren in excellent condition after decades of constant use. Many insist that food just tastes better in cast iron. I can live with that!
Affordable Cast Iron Cookware
Another country tradition is finding efficient ways to stretch your dollar, and many times you find that something less expensive is actually better.
A set of cheap cookware can cost a few hundred dollars. After going through 2 sets of new cookware in our first 10 years, we realized that quality actually costs less. There is also the safety issue of modern nonstick coatings leaching into your food. No thanks!
Cast iron, even enameled, can be obtained at close-out stores for bargain prices. Their quality and usability are identical to their siblings in big box stores, many times for 1/3 of the original price. The only piece we paid more than $100 for is a monster 7 1/2 quart enameled stew pot. The classic 12 inch Lodge Skillet is $36 at Cracker Barrel. We got one for $16 at T.J. Max.
Cast Iron Holds up to Modern Cooking Techniques
The even heating nature of cast iron works the same no matter the heat source. We use ours on a glass top electric range, in the oven, and with our 2 cast iron wood stoves. They are equally at home on a gas range, or an open fire.
Dee and I started a YouTube channel called Fired Cast Iron because we love to cook together. Her disability and my mobility issues have made us rely on each other to do things that most people take for granted. We started cooking together out of necessity, but we continue because we love doing things together.
She is the mastermind behind the dishes. You will see my hands coming on the screen to lift something or do other tasks her hands find painful.
Our goal is to preserve a record of Dee’s rustic cooking style, and also a little of the fun we have preparing dishes together. Cast iron cookware is a major part of that legacy. When we are gone, the cast iron will still be here with memories of the dishes we prepared with love.
Jeff and Dee Holbrook were raised in Christian homes in rural West Virginia. They ministered in music and teaching over the years, but are now retired. After 37 years of marriage, they find it wonderful to finally have time to do more things together, like traveling and collecting cast iron cookware to create meals for their YouTube channel. After they make a dish, they get to eat it. What could be better? You can find them at FiredCastIron.com.
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