I crossed the threshold, and felt sheer panic. But unlike my prior attempt, budgetary realities barred me from fleeing. Trapped, I had to deal with the panic and make this work. I procured a cart and took safe haven on the perimeter to could get the "lay of the land". I spotted a group of very loud, energetic children playing a raucous game of tag. At that time I believed myself to be in purgatory. My path was dictated by desperate attempts to avoid the tag playing kids. They advanced, I retreated. They zigged, I zagged. This spastic choreography eventually brought me to a quieter corner of the store. There, I noticed a woman whose cart overflowed with amazing finds! Were we in the same store??? I looked about and saw nothing. But she reached into the heaps and drew forth treasure! How did she manage this? What manner of magic did she possess? I decided to study her, and copy her technique. Unbeknownst to this master shopper, she had acquired an apprentice! Methodically, she searched the shelves from one end to the other, shuffling everything around. Her method obviously worked, so I adopted her system and was quickly rewarded. I found…(drum roll please) a set of iron skillets!
|iron skillets from Goodwill|
Three iron skillets for $9! I could hardly believe my luck! Understand that I knew nothing about iron cookware at the time. I only knew that iron was a preferred cookware of many great cooks…. my grandmother being one. I knew I'd found a great deal. But the deal wasn't the only bonus. Holding the skillets made me feel nostalgic. Like the fabled magic carpet, memories transported me back to a time I hadn't thought of in ages. Mealtime with my grandparents. Perfect fried chicken, fried okra, cornbread and more. We ate in their small kitchen nook where we had a view of the garden my grandfather loved to tend. Supper time was special back then. Not rushed like today, and certainly NEVER eaten while watching TV. Meals were sustenance yes, but more importantly, eating together was family time. We shared laughs, talked about our hopes, dreams. and everything in-between. My grandparents made sure mealtime was a time set aside for us to be together. My grandmother's iron cookware was a key component in all of her meal prep. and therefore a part of my memories. I hadn't reflected on those childhood years in quite sometime. But there, amongst the wild children, and piles of random stuff, I'd found something that built a bridge between the adult me, and the child me. Quite unexpectedly, these iron skillets helped me feel a stronger connection to the past.
|The underside of the large skillet.|
I was yanked from my reverie when two of the energetic children ran right into me. Apparently, the game of tag had been going strong while I'd been revisiting those Mississippi summers in my mind. An angry mother came around the corner to gather the kids, and I realized that was the perfect time to conclude my shopping. I'd had my first victory in the thrift store arena! The iron skillets were my big turning point. Just like that, I was a full fledged thrift shop-aholic.
Two years later, I am an avid thrift store shopper. Second-hand things come with mystery, surprise AND an affordable price! That's a win, win, win in my book. I enjoy using these 'old school' tools like my grandparents did. With each use, I am reminded of the wonderful memories I have of them, and decades later, I appreciate my grandparents all the more. No matter how many great finds I come across, these will be extra special to me. For they mark the day I learned to find treasures among the ordinary.
BELOW ARE A SOME OF PICS OF THE SKILLETS DURING THE SEASONING PROCESS:
As you can see in the picture, they weren't well seasoned. I brought the goods home and commenced to researching how one goes about seasoning a skillet.
I read on one site that the best way to season iron cookware is to use it. So I cooked bacon and saved the grease for future seasoning.
And below--some delicious homemade cornbread in my iron skillet…like Grandam used to make.