I inherited my grandmother's cast iron dutch oven and skillets which had belonged to -her- grandmother. They're still exactly as useful and in the same condition as when my great-great-grandmother used them. I love that connection. The problem is that apart from frybread, cornbread, pinto beans, and fried potatoes, I never used them. This cookbook has already changed that. I really enjoyed testing some of the recipes in this collection.
The book begins with an introduction and short history of cast iron cookware, and iron's suitability as a material with regard to durability. There are tutorials for choosing pans and what styles and weights are commonly available. There's a good tutorial on conditioning and caring for the cookware followed a really sensible guide to reducing food waste and kitchen economy. These pages fill out 15% of the total content of the cookbook.
The recipes are arranged by category: Breakfast & Brunch, Biscuits & Bread, Vegetables & Sides, Vegetarian & Vegan Mains, Fish & Poultry, Beef Pork & Lamb, and Desserts. I really appreciated the inclusion of plant based dishes. These are -hearty- mains that even my meat loving family really devoured (without complaining).
The recipes are given with English (American) measurements. There is a very minimal conversion table included at the back of the book with metric equivalents which is nice, but readers would be as well off with a google converter. It's a nice gesture, though.
I tried three recipes in preparation for writing this review.
- Cheese Pupusas with Curtido: The prep for this dish was fairly involved and took more than 24 hours... but definitely tasty and very filling. I was unaware of the existence of curtido (or pupusas) prior to this cookbook.
- African Chicken Stew: I was surprised how easy it was to source the ingredients for this dish. It reminded me a lot of black eyed pea gumbo with chicken instead of pork/seafood. Really delicious. There's cilantro as a garnish. I'm the only one in my family who loves cilantro, so it does work quite well without.
- Reuben Grilled Cheese: Divine. This will be a staple at our house. Also, the tip to use a 10 inch skillet as a press when grilling the sandwiches in a 12" skillet is inspired. Works perfectly.
We're definitely going to try more of these recipes. Well written book, tasty recipes. I've dinged half a star for the near-total lack of photographs. For cooks who -need- photographs for serving ideas, this will be a disappointment.
Four and a half stars.
Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.