Christmas Book Review Series: Cast Iron Kitchen by Jesseca Hallows


Over this week and ending on Cyber Monday, we will share our thoughts on books that we think you should consider as possible Christmas gifts for yourself and others! As in the past, everyone who comments on a post will be entered into the draw to win a copy of one of the books that we have reviewed! (Choice of electronic or hard copies in the domestic US, digital copies outside of this area). Your comment on each post gives you one entry (multiple comments on the same post will not give you additional entries.) This year, we are adding comments on the Book Review posts shared on the Exponent Facebook page in addition to comments on the blog. 

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Ever since I was a newlywed (circa 1999), I had heard that cast iron pans are superior to aluminum or stainless steel pans. They’re cheap, they’re sustainable, they can even add nutrients, like iron, to your food. It took me a little while to really jump on board because they seemed inconvenient.

They’re heavy, you have to TOTALLY dry them, and what does seasoning your pan mean, anyway?

I wish I had had Jesseca Hallows’ book, Cast Iron Kitchen, when I first began in earnest to make cast iron my primary cookware.

Jesseca’s book begins with everything you need to know about caring for cast iron but were afraid to ask section. It is succinct, articulate, and a pretty fun read considering, you know, we’re reading about cookware.

But, her recipes are just amazing. I had a good feeling about her cookbook after checking out her blog, One Sweet Appetite. Life is better with her sweet, crunchy Banana Bread Granola.

You’ll want to be sure to get Cast Iron Kitchen because very few of the delicious recipes in the cookbook can be found on her blog.

In one week, I made a few of her recipes: buttermilk biscuits, pancakes, Mountain Man breakfast casserole, Indian chili, pot pie, and cherry crumble.

It was a happy week for dinners at my house. My kids, my spouse, and I loved everything we tried. The fact that Hallows can bridge what parents and kids like consistently is a major accomplishment.

Her recipes have easy-to-find ingredients, and she does a great job of crafting her recipes to bring out the best of each simple ingredient. I couldn’t believe that the Indian chili was as delicious as it was with just pork, flour, pinto beans, green chilies and garlic salt.

I didn’t know biscuits could be so light and fluffy when cooked in a cast iron skillet. And the Mountain Man casserole had us fighting over what little leftovers remained after Tuesday night’s “brinner.” And, Friday morning’s buttermilk skillet pancakes had us all swooning. Seriously, we do not need Bisquick anymore.

A word of caution…I did find a couple places where my experience in cooking came in handy. Her recipes are great, but I found occasionally,  a mistake or two, and there were explanations missing that would have helped a novice cook. I think this is more of an issue of editing than Hallows’ work, and please don’t let it deter you from getting the book.

My family and I are looking forward to continuing to cook through this cookbook. My mouth waters just thinking about what the apple cinnamon baked apple oatmeal and the lemon-baked chicken.

A few years ago, I reviewed Georganne Bell’s The Cookie Companion and came to appreciate the quality of the cookbooks that Front Table Books publishes. Hallows’ and Bell’s books are beautifully designed and photographed. They’re pretty to look at and fun to read. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.



EmilyCC works for a national non-profit and lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her spouse and three children. She is a former editor of Exponent II and a founding blogger at The Exponent.

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6 Responses

  1. Kaylee says:

    I’ve already bought a cast iron skillet for my husband this Christmas. This would be a good companion to it.

  2. oregonmum says:

    I’m getting my husband a cast iron skillet for Christmas too! He has been using one for all the scout camp outs and loves it. This would be a great surprise for him.

  3. Amanda Funai says:

    This would be great. I still feel incompetent with cast iron.

  4. Megan Buhler says:

    I’ve recently started using a cast iron skillet and could use more recipes.

  5. Pog says:

    I’ve always wanted to know more about cast-iron cooking! this book looks great!

  6. emilyhgeddes says:

    Learning how to cook with a cast iron skillet has been on my to-do list for years! Sounds like this cookbook would be a great start 🙂

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