However, my main non-stick frying pan's surface has been looking questionable as of late - it's been looking a little flaky. I've been also becoming more wary of what they put on these pans to make them nonstick, so when my pan got into its current condition, it was the kick in the butt I needed to try something else.
Recently one night after watching Karl make an omelet in his cast iron pan, I decided to give it a whirl and asked if he could make me one in my cast iron pan. (we have separate cast iron pans because they absorb what is cooked in them, and we don't want a case of cross-contamination). I watched how he did it, and then the next few nights as I was cooking I tried using my cast iron for making meals. Now that I'm getting the hang of it and it's become more "seasoned" from use, I've come to like it for several reasons:
Taste: Things I've made in the cast iron using olive oil have come out with a more buttery flavor, which is wonderful. I love grilling my veggies in olive oil in it now.
Function: The iron heats very evenly, and I think this is what causes my omelets to be more fluffy. When I made the pancakes in them, they were also more fluffy then when I made them on the nonstick griddle (and tastier).
No Chemicals: It's nothing but iron - though it's disputed back and forth about whether the chemicals in nonstick pans are harmful, after seeing the flaking on my pan and risking it getting into my food, I'm now in the camp of better safe than sorry. My cast iron is now just as nonstick as my chemically non-stick pan, so I'm officially convinced that it's been a good change.
Health Benefits: There's also the benefit of getting more iron in your diet by cooking with cast iron.
Multi-purpose: It can be used on a stove, in an oven, as well as a campfire.
Clean-up is a breeze: Say goodbye to scrubbing or dishwashers. While the pan is still hot after using it, rinse it under hot water, which will make any leftover residue or crumbs burn off the surface. Dump the water, wipe it down (don't let it stay wet for long or else it'll rust), and you're golden. Here's a good post on how to clean cast iron, and a video here for scrubbing off a really messy pan.
Bonus: They're hardy buggers & last a lifetime, so they are worth the money you pay for them and more. This is something that you can pass down as a heirloom piece.
Whether you have non-stick pans that have started to flake like I did or not, consider trying out cast iron. Overall, I'm really glad to have made the switch, and plan to invest in buying a few more sizes in the future!
* SPECIAL NOTE: Cast iron pans come in either pre-seasoned or unseasoned. If you have Celiacs, get a brand new, UNSEASONED pan. This way you will know what it was seasoned with and you can make the patina yourself.
(Thanks to gnowfglins for the feature opportunity)