Hello readers, and welcome to The Dutch Oven, a mixture of tips and information about our wonderful Southern culinary culture. What you learn here should produce one, or all, of these comments: I should try that! I didn't know that! I can do that! Lift the lid and see what's inside today.

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A piece of cast-iron cookware has long been favored in kitchens around the South. Loved for both practical and sentimental reasons--this highly durable, heat-retaining item is probably a family heirloom or a 30-year-old wedding present—cast iron has ridden the waves of popularity along with other materials such as Teflon and stainless steel. But the classics never really go away, and, as evidenced by the reader inquiries we receive, interest in cast iron cooking is as high as ever.

Quite simply, you can cook almost anything in cast iron. Everyone knows how delicious the traditional recipes like fried chicken and cornbread taste prepared in an heirloom skillet, and nothing is easier than the tender and savory pot roast cooked in the dutch oven. Bring the favored skillet out for parties, as well, and prepare a tasty appetizer, and don't forget baking desserts; nothing says Southern cooking like an apple pie bubbling inside a hot cast-iron skillet!

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Seasoning and taking care of cast-iron is not difficult at all. Watch this video from the Southern Living Test Kitchen to learn how to love your cast-iron, and email for a printable Cast-Iron Care Chart.

What do you like to cook in your cast-iron? Do you have an heirloom piece or are you breaking in a new skillet? Leave your comments below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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