I love cast iron cookware. It’s nearly indestructible and provides a nice, even heat. You should have at least one cast iron skillet, preferably a 10 or 12 incher. Griswold pans, the best, aren’t even made anymore, but are worth looking for. If you don’t want to spend the time looking for old pans, get a new Lodge skillet (I wouldn’t pay the extra for the preseasoned pans; an unseasoned 10 inch skillet costs about $20).
I got my first Griswold skillets when my grandmother died in the 1970s. They were already old, and I leave them crusted and a little funky to remind me of all the good food I ate in her kitchen. But I still cook with them almost every day.
Savvy dealers know the value of Griswold pans and mark them up (a 10-inch skillet in good shape can go for $40 or more, although that’s not much compared to new high end cookware).
Garage sales are the best place to find them, and that’s how I’ve added to my collection. Turn the pan over and look for a cross within a circle and the word Griswold. I’ve picked up vintage skillets for as little as a buck, but expect to pay $5-10 or more.
If the pan is rusty or encrusted with grease, buy it anyway. You can clean it off and reseason the pan, a simple procedure. Once it’s clean, put in on a burner or in the oven until it’s pretty hot, then pour in a few drops of oil and rub with a paper towel or newspaper. You may have to repeat the oiling process for a few weeks, but eventually the iron’s pores will fill and a nice, relatively nonstick surface will develop. Cooking with them regularly works about as well.
Some claim that cast iron should never be cleaned with detergent, but I use it all the time. If the pan is greasy, a little detergent won’t hurt. Just don’t scrub too hard with a scouring pad, which can strip away the seasoning.