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Caring for the Iron Skillet 

     Most southern women had a good iron skillet. Unlike some old movies they never used it to whack grandpa upside the head. The souther cook was much too particular to ever do something like that with a skillet. A skillet was a prized possession that in many cases was handed down for generations. Most southern cooks had one they set aside for making nothing but cornbread. You fry chicken in that thing and to them the skillet is ruined. Should be nothing but cornbread. 

     My grandmother was one of those people who always said they don't make them like they used to. Unlike most things she was very fond of the new iron skillets on the market. Women would buy them and complain about cornbread sticking. My grandmother always told them, "you didn't cure it right." I'm sure they didn't know their new skillet was ill. 

     By curing my grandmother meant heating the pan. She read some that said to put them in the oven at 200 degrees. None of that for her! No, she would build a good fire out back with hickory wood. After coating the new skillet in lard (yes lard) she would toss it in the fire. After the fire was out she would go get the skillet and rinse it with water, but no soap. She would then dry the skillet by placing it on a wood stove. Once she was certain it was dry, while still hot, she would coat the inside and out with vegetable oil. 

     Now, there are two things I know for sure. When she threw it in the fire you didn't want to be standing there. Lard is very flammable. The other thing I know...May grandmother could make great cornbread.