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Need help finding the right cast iron cookware!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

The short story is that my father has been cooking his whole life and loves it, is currently making some huge life changes for the better, and I want to get him some good cookware he deserves.

 

He's always wanted to open his own restaurant and loves cooking good food for good people. Any chance he has to cook for someone he jumps at it. He refuses to treat himself to anything unless he's treated everyone else first, and doesn't get enough praise. Drugs and alcohol were a big part of his life but he quit drugs when I was a young teen and is currently getting help with his alcohol issues.

 

No one is perfect, but my father is one hell of a guy and I'm proud to be his son for all he's done for me and my family. For tackling this huge obstacle I want to get him some new cast iron cookware (he's never had ANY cast iron cookware for the house, only at work) so that he can put those crappy old frying pans to rest and not worry about having to tighten a handle every time he uses a pan.

 

I know absolutely nothing about cookware and need help finding the right stuff for him. I don't have thousands to spend on a high end set, but if I can get him a few essential pieces of good quality to start then I can work with him to finish the set. Thanks in advance to anyone with tips/recommendations! 

post #2 of 12
Lodge or Campchef or MACA. Those three are high quality and reliable casting. I would trust ordering any of those three brands sight unseen. Shipping cast iron is not cheap. Amazon often has free or discounted shipping even on cast iron.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'll look into those brands, thank you! I'm not sure exactly what to get him to start off (suggestions welcomed!) but I'll see what my options are!

post #4 of 12
I'm also gonna recommend Lodge stuff. It's what I've got. I consider it the Timex of cast iron.
post #5 of 12

Lodge is indeed a trusted brand. I'll suggest a 9 inch and 12 inch skillet to start, and a 3 - 4 quart enameled dutch oven. Can't remember what size mine is, but it gets used quite often.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #6 of 12
Turns out MACA stopped casting cookware in 2013. Too bad, they made some good stuff.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #7 of 12

I would also suggest you look at garage sales, flea markets and antique stores, if you aren't committed to buying him new. Wagner pans are popular in the antique crowd and therefore command a higher price but there is plenty of cast iron out there. The great thing about cast iron is that it doesn't wear out so functionally speaking, used and new are pretty much the same. 

post #8 of 12

Are you set on cast iron?  While I love all my cast iron (and I have quite a few pieces) it does have its limitations.  Also, as far as cookware goes, it is some of the least expensive to purchase, in general, not counting some of the really good enameled stuff.  What you might want to do is pick up a piece, or two, from Lodge (all my stuff is Lodge, except for some really, really old pieces that I'm not sure about) and then pick up a nicer, higher-end aluminum or stainless steel pan with a nice thick bottom.

post #9 of 12

Yes to Lodge. 12" skillet and 6 qt enameled Dutch oven. I also use 9" and  6" skillets.

 

I wouldn't mind having a 4.6 qt Dutch oven, as well. 

 

I'm not sure how old your dad is but the one caveat with cast iron is that it is heavy and elderly people often have trouble with that. The 6 qt Dutch oven weighs 15 lbs. The 12" skillet weighs 7.5 lbs.

post #10 of 12

Cast iron utensils are wonderful, and they never wear out.  If you can find any Griswold at a low price, like at a garage sale, get it. Mostly now they're priced as antiques, as they haven''t been made for decades. For new pieces, I have Lodge and find it very good.   Direct your Dad to references about seasoning and cleaning techniques which are absolutely crucial for cast iron. 

 

If you find some grungy or rusty old ones - any good brand - for a good price, grab them and go to a shop that offers sandblast cleaning of metal.  See if they do BEAD blasting, which uses tiny glass spheres to remove rust, fried-on grunge, paint, or whatever.  This uses the same equipment, just the beads instead of sand.They will come out smooth and like new.

 

If they don't do BEAD blasting, don't let them talk you into sandblasting-  it will ruin the utensils, leaving them with a clean surface, yes, but one that is so rough and pitted that it is impossible to ever seal or clean again.. For sandblasting they use sharp sand, which has lots of points on the grains for rough cutting on tough materials like brick, concrete, or heavy pieces of metal where a textured surface is OK or actually desirable, as for holding paint.

 

Good luck.

 

Mike

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travelling gourmand
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post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Wow I didn't expect this many responses lol. I'll look into the Lodge skillets and dutch oven. He's told me about seasoning a skillet so I know he knows about that, we have these 2 really small cast iron skillets my mother got years ago. I'm not familiar with pan sizes but they're both about the size of a large egg cracked in them, one slightly bigger than the other, but I'll look into getting them blasted for the sake of having them! Thank you all again for your input, I know my father will be happy with whatever I get him but I'm glad to have some knowledge to get him some nice stuff. Thank you!

post #12 of 12

I've got one little skillet that is perfectly sized for 2 fried eggs, pretty much the only thing I use it for.

 

 

And when done the eggs slide right out, non stick at its finest.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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