Skilletheads

A Guide to Collecting and Restoring Cast-Iron Cookware

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Pub Date 02 May 2023 | Archive Date 15 Jun 2023
Darcie Rowan PR, Red Lightning Books

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Description

“Skilletheads is likely the most comprehensive, thoroughly researched guide on vintage and modern cast-iron cookware.” —PETER HUNTLEY, Founder and CEO, Stargazer Cast Iron

“This book really is for everyone, from the home cook to the Michelin chef, the newbie collector to the seasoned pro. A must-have for the cast iron user in your life!” —KEVIN FOGARTY, Content Creator, Cast Iron Kev


Cast Iron Influencer & Bestselling Author Ashley L. Jones Delves Deeper into Collecting, Restoring & Cooking Great Meals with Cookware in New Book


Skilletheads

A Guide to Collecting and Restoring Cast-Iron Cookware

Ashley L. Jones


Whether you are a cast iron connoisseur or a collector and restorer of cookware, or you just love how food tastes made in these pans, readers will enjoy bestselling author Ashley L. Jones’s new book, Skilletheads. It is the definitive guide on cast iron!


While cast iron’s popularity faded in the ’70s—replaced by chemically processed cookware—today’s cooks are reigniting a passion for wholesome cast-iron-cooked meals. In Skilletheads, the highly anticipated follow-up to Modern Cast Iron, Ashley L. Jones dives deeper than ever into the world of cast iron. In these pages, which feature over 100 full-color photos, you'll find expert advice on purchasing cast iron from some of the most active collectors in the field today; side-by-side comparisons of the major manufacturers in the US and interviews with each company; and detailed how-to guides for restoring cast iron, including such methods as lye baths, electrolysis tanks, and chemical products, all compiled with input from devoted Skilletheads. And because no book on cast iron is complete without a little cooking, Jones includes 35 mouth-watering recipes contributed by foodies who know cast iron best—everything from Sunday Frittata to Braised Chicken to Skillet S'mores 

"What a great resource! With insights into vintage cast iron and firsthand accounts from modern makers leading the cast iron resurgence, Skilletheads is the definitive guide to cast-iron cookware."―Michael Griffin, FINEX brand director.


Ashley highlights all the questions she’s ever heard about restoring and collecting cast iron cookware and found the answers so that she can educate readers on the process. For instance, while Skilletheads is part science and part personal preference, collecting and restoring cast-iron cookware is a complex art. Collectors will want to know what makes each company's cast iron unique. Many wonder if the chemicals used during restoration of a pan leech into food? Also, when it comes to surface finish, is textured or smooth better?. Ashley did her due diligence when researching the book by speaking to expert collectors and restorers as well as brand directors for the most accurate information. 


Whether you're interested in finding the perfect pan for your kitchen or starting a new hobby restoring cast iron, Skilletheads is here to help.


Ashley L. Jones is an author, blogger, and teacher, but she prefers the title of Big Sister. A firm believer that we all know something worth sharing, she started the blog Big Sister Knows as a way to encourage and inspire other young women to live with gusto. Ashley sees her books, Skilletheads and Modern Cast Iron as a continuation of that mission. Here, she not only instructs readers about cast-iron cookware but also inspires them to cook simple, wholesome foods and to gather with family around the table. 


Find your inspiration and follow Ashley’s journey at www.ashleyljones.com.

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@ashleyljones

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ashleyljones_author/


Skilletheads: A Guide to Collecting and Restoring Cast-Iron Cookware

By Ashley L Jones

Red Lightning Books; Pub Date May 2, 2023; Cooking, Food & Wine, Home & Garden

ISBN 9781684352029; PRICE $24.00 (USD), PAGES 254, EDITION Hardcover



Advance Praise

“Skilletheads is likely the most comprehensive, thoroughly researched guide on vintage and modern cast-iron cookware.” —Peter Huntley, Founder and CEO, Stargazer Cast Iron

“The definitive guide to cast-iron cookware.” —Michael Griffin, Brand Director, FINEX

"Obviously Ashley has a problem, and thankfully she's kind enough to share it with us! This book really is for everyone. The home cook to the Michelin chef. The newbie collector to the seasoned pro (ha!). A must-have for the cast iron user in your life!"―Kevin Fogarty, Content Creator Cast Iron Kev

"What a great resource! With insights into vintage cast iron and firsthand accounts from modern makers leading the cast iron resurgence, Skilletheads is the definitive guide to cast-iron cookware."―Michael Griffin, FINEX brand director 

"This book is a fantastic cross-section of the diverse collector community. It's a perfect justification that new collectors can show to their spouses to say, 'Look! I could be as bad as THESE guys!' Absolutely recommend for anyone who loves cast iron."―Ken Margraff, Cast Iron Savannah

"If you want to learn more about cast-iron cookware, this book might be your Bible. Ashley traces the history of the cast-iron cookware industry, shows us how to restore and care for our cast iron, and leaves us with some amazing recipes so that we can put our favorite pans to use. This book is a celebration of what we Skilletheads love about our tools."―Isaac Morton, founder of Smithey Ironware

"This book will either help you understand the addiction; or start a new one! This is a great place to reference any questions you might have about cast-iron cookware."―Matthew Bright, Orphaned Iron

"Ashley has put together the most comprehensive guide to understanding the obsession and countless details behind cast-iron cookware. While kitchen gadgets come and go, cast iron stands as a workhorse of the kitchen for years to come. Whether you are an aspiring collector or chef, Skilletheads is a must-read to understand the options and history of cast-iron skillets."―Eric Steckling, Marquette Castings

"I've spent over 8 years in the cast iron profession, and I still learned a thing or two from reading Skilletheads. Ashley's done a wonderful and thorough job exploring the topic from all angles and any developing skilletheads would be well served to pick up this book."―Stephen Muscarella, founder of Field Company

"Skilletheads is your all-in-one guide to cast-iron cookware. Ashley's done her due diligence in providing an accessible, thorough read for everyone from the novice chef to the serious collector. I only wish this resource had been available when I began my love of collecting, researching, and restoring vintage cast-iron cookware. Kudos, Ashley! You've outdone yourself!"―David Ragsdale, founder of What's Up Homerskillet?



“Skilletheads is likely the most comprehensive, thoroughly researched guide on vintage and modern cast-iron cookware.” —PETER HUNTLEY, Founder and CEO, Stargazer Cast Iron

“This book really is for...


Advance Praise

“Skilletheads is likely the most comprehensive, thoroughly researched guide on vintage and modern cast-iron cookware.” —PETER HUNTLEY, Founder and CEO, Stargazer Cast Iron

“This book really is for everyone, from the home cook to the Michelin chef, the newbie collector to the seasoned pro. A must-have for the cast iron user in your life!” —KEVIN FOGARTY, Content Creator, Cast Iron Kev

“The defi nitive guide to cast-iron cookware.” —MICHAEL GRIFFIN, Brand Director, FINEX

"Obviously Ashley has a problem, and thankfully she's kind enough to share it with us! This book really is for everyone. The home cook to the Michelin chef. The newbie collector to the seasoned pro (ha!). A must-have for the cast iron user in your life!"―Kevin Fogarty, Content Creator Cast Iron Kev

"What a great resource! With insights into vintage cast iron and firsthand accounts from modern makers leading the cast iron resurgence, Skilletheads is the definitive guide to cast-iron cookware."―Michael Griffin, FINEX brand director

"This book is a fantastic cross-section of the diverse collector community. It's a perfect justification that new collectors can show to their spouses to say, 'Look! I could be as bad as THESE guys!' Absolutely recommend for anyone who loves cast iron."―Ken Margraff, Cast Iron Savannah

"If you want to learn more about cast-iron cookware, this book might be your Bible. Ashley traces the history of the cast-iron cookware industry, shows us how to restore and care for our cast iron, and leaves us with some amazing recipes so that we can put our favorite pans to use. This book is a celebration of what we Skilletheads love about our tools."―Isaac Morton, founder of Smithey Ironware

"This book will either help you understand the addiction; or start a new one! This is a great place to reference any questions you might have about cast-iron cookware."―Matthew Bright, Orphaned Iron

"Ashley has put together the most comprehensive guide to understanding the obsession and countless details behind cast-iron cookware. While kitchen gadgets come and go, cast iron stands as a workhorse of the kitchen for years to come. Whether you are an aspiring collector or chef, Skilletheads is a must-read to understand the options and history of cast-iron skillets."―Eric Steckling, Marquette Castings

"I've spent over 8 years in the cast iron profession, and I still learned a thing or two from reading Skilletheads. Ashley's done a wonderful and thorough job exploring the topic from all angles and any developing skilletheads would be well served to pick up this book."―Stephen Muscarella, founder of Field Company

"Skilletheads is your all-in-one guide to cast-iron cookware. Ashley's done her due diligence in providing an accessible, thorough read for everyone from the novice chef to the serious collector. I only wish this resource had been available when I began my love of collecting, researching, and restoring vintage cast-iron cookware. Kudos, Ashley! You've outdone yourself!"―David Ragsdale, founder of What's Up Homerskillet?


“Skilletheads is likely the most comprehensive, thoroughly researched guide on vintage and modern cast-iron cookware.” —PETER HUNTLEY, Founder and CEO, Stargazer Cast Iron

“This book really is for...


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Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781684352029
PRICE $24.00 (USD)
PAGES 254

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Average rating from 34 members


Featured Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and Darcie Rowan PR, Red Lightning Books for accepting my request to read and review Skilletheads.

Published: 05/02/23

If this was an article in a magazine I was thumbing through, I would contemplate asking to take the magazine home. I have the E-book, therefore I am unable to gauge size; I would use this as a coffee table book.

I grew up with a mother who only used cast iron. I was convinced growing up and still believe today, in her life her only love was cast iron. I recognized some of her pieces in the book. My favorite was her corn bread stick pans. The book explains how to season the pans and how to take care of them. Ironically, the pans were not designed to use in camp fires, and that surprised me.

The book explains the different companies, qualities, old versus modern and mentions online groups. There are even recipes in the back.

I think this is a nice book and giftable.

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Skilletheads by Ashley L. Jones - A guide to Collecting and Restoring Cast-Iron Cookware

Do you love your cast-iron skillet? If so, this book is for you! Full of photographs, and aimed at lovers of vintage and modern USA cast-iron cookware, enthusiasm shines out from the page to every other Skillethead out there. You know who you are!

The introduction summarises the merits of USA cast-iron cookware, and discusses where to hunt for vintage pieces, and then an identification section describes the details of possible treasures. Historic manufacturers are identified, with introductions to the business owners, foundry and factory locations, trade marks, designs, along with sketches and photos. A similar section is also presented about USA makers of modern craft cast iron.

Old, dingy, stained and rusty cast iron can be turned from dirty junk to valued heirloom by restoration techniques described by the author together with opinions of several other Skilletheads.

The conclusion presents a collection of recipes, with photographs to highlight beautiful pans and their tempting contents.

I enjoyed this specialist hobby reference. It's well-written, and the photographs bring the topic to life, but it's the enthusiasm and commitment to iron cook-ware that caught and held my interest. Each brief summary reads like a display case during a walk through an interesting museum! Underlying this story is a commitment to patience, to lasting quality, to good health, and to spending time with family.

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A wonderful compilation of cast iron with brief history as well as markings, makers, resources and some recipes to give a whirl to in the end. If you are a cast iron follower and/or user, even a history buff this book will provide an insight into America's cookware. Definitely a great resource for seasoning, recovery and/or working to restore found cast iron. This will be an essential tool in furthering your search.

Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for the opportunity.

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I am new to owning cast iron skillets and wish that I had read this book before starting to work with them. Of course one of the first mistakes I made was allowing my new cast iron skillet to get rust spots. After reading this book I not only gained a great insight as to the history of cast iron but also feel confident that I will be better able to take care of my pans. I am also excited to try out the recipes.

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This book was perfect for what I needed with refurbishing a lovely cast iron skillet! I received this ARC and am leaving a review of my own free will without compensation.

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This book will be of great interest to people who are interested in cast iron cookware as an artefact. Readers who are more interested in recipes and techniques for cast iron cooking will be happier with Ashley Jones' cookbook "Modern Cast Iron".

This book is a deep dive into the history of cast iron cookware in the USA. Ashley Jones interviews professional iron restorers and contemporary casters and consults a wide range of sources to provide a good technical overview of cast iron history, production, and restoration. The earlier book provides more information on daily care aimed at cooks.

If you are interested in the topic, the book is full of fun facts of the "who would have thought??" kind. We all know Lodge cast iron, and maybe we have noted the octagon shape and coiled metal handle of FINEX ware in high end catalogs, but I, for one, never imagined that we had artisanal iron foundries in the USA today. I would not have thought that there were professional iron restorers either. Who knew?

As a chemist I enjoyed reading details of cleaning and restoring rusty old pans we might find in the dump. As a cook, I enjoyed reading the recipes contributed to the book by the iron restorers.

So I recommend this book highly to the probably narrow group of readers who care about stuff like this.

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As a house that is a big fan of cast iron skills - I was excited to read this one. I love learning about the cookware that I use and how to take care of it probably/use it better than I did before! I would love to read more by this author about all different appliances :)

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If you already love using cast iron or just a beginner this book will teach you all about the history of cast iron. What to look for buying pans, how to season and restore. There are beautiful photos all through the book and there are recipes that are easy to follow. I never had a clue about most of the things in this book. Now I know. My grandmother always used cast iron. I really enjoyed learning all about cast iron made in the USA. Such a useful and wise book to have.

Dawnny Ruby
Novels N Latte
Hudson Valley NY

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Skilletheads is a stunningly well wrought resource, care & collecting guide, and passionate love letter to noble cast-iron cookware by Ashley L. Jones. Due out 2nd May 2023 from Red Lightning Books, it's 256 pages and will be available in hardcover and ebook formats.

I grew up in southern Appalachia and was surrounded by cast iron cookware and culture from my infancy. I still have my maternal grandmother's cookware which *she* inherited from *her* grandmother. It's still in near-daily use and shows no real signs of wear from the last 100+ years of hard work. It's not particularly valuable (probably most used is an old 12" skillet made by Lodge) but they're prized possessions and mean the world to me.

The author of this book gets it. It's full of beautifully photographed and documented cast iron pieces of all sizes, shapes, and functions. There are sections for history (accessibly written and interesting and not just piles of facts and tables to wade through). There are well written chapters for collecting (and using) vintage -and- modern cookware, as well as the best overall guide I've ever seen for evaluating and restoring cast iron.

The author does a warm and friendly job of introducing readers to the worldwide fellowship of lovers (fanatics?) of all things cast iron, and there are numerous resources to get help or come into contact with like minded collectors. The resources and links lists and recipes are worth the price of the book by themselves.

Five stars. This would be a great selection for public library acquisition, homestead/home library, cooks, gift giving, as well as for maker's groups, thrifters/resellers/antique hunters. Really really good stuff.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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This is exactly the book we needed! My husband and I are wannabe skilletheads, but need to study and find more cast iron to practice with. Thank you for this gem of a book about all things cast iron!

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I want to start off by saying I’m a 36 year old with cast iron skillets that belonged to my mom and grandmother and they need serious rejuvenation!

I was so excited to come across this! If you’re looking to revive an old pan this book is for you. There’s a plethora of useful information!

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Skilletheads is a goldmine of information fir any cast iron lover. It has information ranging on finding the best vintage cast iron, restoration, production methods, seasoning pans, recipes and more. An absolutely amazing book that is a must have if you love cast iron! Absolutely highly recommend it.

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I recently read a tale of someone who scrubbed the crap out of a cast iron skillet at a restaurant they worked, not knowing that the bumps and "crud" were what made the pan work so well. I have a cast iron pan that is worth the weight when cooking: it was my grandmother's and thank goodness I never had to restore it.

A very specific book, if you are looking to revive a pan of yours, this will help immensely: I stand by buying pre-seasoned pans and then adding your own layers of excellence to them but if you are in a situation where you need to bring one back to life or buy a new one this is a great book to do so with!

Lots of ideas and hints, this book will get your favourite pan back to being its wonderful self: highly recommended to those looking to do this specific job as it is a very technical book full of history...not a casual read but if you need it and its information, it is awesome.

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There's no pleasure that can compare to searing a good steak in a hot, well-seasoned cast iron skillet... unless it's pulling a skillet full of freshly baked, buttery drop biscuits out of a hot oven on a cold winter's day.

While I may not be a full-blown skillethead, I'm definitely a skillet fan. I own two Lodge brand cast iron pans: a 10" two-handled skillet, and a 12" square griddle. Of course, I quickly flipped through the manufacturer's profiles until I found Lodge, to see if I'd made a wise choice. After reading about the history of "the only manufacturer that is both vintage and modern", I feel a greater sense of pride in my two pieces.

From there' I jumped to the Restoring Cast Iron section to check if I've been maintaining my cast iron correctly. I got caught up in reading about all the various methods of restoring old cast iron. I will remember to refer to this section if I happen to find an interesting yet rusty old piece on my next antiquing adventure.

The restoration chapter did eventually get around to covering basic seasoning. I appreciated the easy-to-understand explanation of "polymerization", which is what happens in a pan during seasoning. And to my shock (and delight) I learned that yes I CAN use soap on my cast iron, if I follow some simple advice. Gasp!

If you don't yet own any cast iron, you can enjoy learning about the history of the various manufacturers, see what's involved in restoring vintage skillets, and meet the people who ARE obsessed with them. I'm confident that you'll want to add a good piece to your kitchen after learning about cast iron's unique niche in history.

Oh, and there's a recipe section! It's not just a couple of recipes, either. You could purchase Skilletheads as a full-fledged cookbook. There's everything from Dutch Baby Pancakes to Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus, more than one way to make cornbread, and a lot more. The food photography makes every recipe a temptation. I'm going to make a huge frittata for dinner tonight - that photograph broke down all my willpower.

My thanks to author Ashley L. Jones, Darcie Rowan PR, Red Lightning Books, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital review copy of this book. This review is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Great reference for vintage/antique cast iron! My husband and I cook on vintage cast iron. We consider ourselves well versed in care and use but the history was new to us.

The description and photos from previous manufacturers was extremely interesting! One will certainly use this as a reference the next time they stumble upon cast iron. Information providing seasoning, removing seasoning and care is helpful and not overwhelming to read.

I can't wait to pick up a hardcopy of this book for my kitchen library. I had the privilege of viewing a ebook and the format was a bit odd. I would recommend the hardcopy to anyone who has an interest in cast iron or uses them.

Thank you NetGalley and Darcie Rowan PR, Red Lightning Books for accepting my request to read and review Skilletheads.

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I have a ton of cast iron pans at home that I've inherited and haven't known how to take care of them. This book really helped me figure out how to clean them and cook in them and season them so I can start using them for my own cooking.

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This book is a great resource for the specific audience of those who collect and/or restore cast iron. There are in-depth profiles on various cast iron manufacturers and what to look for when buying vintage pans. There is a lot of info on different methods for restoring. Then the last 25% or so of the book is "recipes contributed by the Skilletheads [the author] interviewed." The majority have a photo. Some use specific pans (i.e. shapes - she says you can use whatever you have on hand). The recipes do seem to be in a logical order, but there are no subdivisions within the recipe section. Because the recipes were contributed and are credited mostly to pan manufacturers, I don't know that the author tested them, they may just be reprinted, so again I feel this is more of a reference book for collecting and restoring rather than a cookbook.

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I have to be honest and say I’ve only recently starting using cast iron cookware! My husband has two that he uses regularly and loves so I’ve been experimenting with his. Skilletheads is the perfect book to help me get more comfortable using it!

Ashley covers how to buy the best cast iron cookware for your needs and how to best clean and care for cast iron cookware. She has included beautiful photos and several diagrams about the different products for your specific needs. There’s even a section on collecting and caring for vintage cast iron! She talks about the different companies and gives a little background.

Additionally, Ashley includes 35 incredible recipes to try, which is perfect for me! I have my eye on the skillet s’mores, the twice baked potato casserole, and the Southwestern flat iron steak skillet dish! 🥩

Thank you so much @suzyapprovedbooktours @ashleyljones_author and @redlightningbooks for my beautiful gifted copy.

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I came across this by accident, but I have a few pieces of cast iron, so I decided to check it out. But wow! This is definitely a deep dive into the nerdy world of cast iron, and now I’m intrigued.

I don’t collect cast iron, or refurbish rusty old pieces. And this book is definitely geared for that crowd. It talks about the different companies that produced cast iron over the years, how to identify them and how best to restore them. There is lots of information on refurbishment, which I really wanted to read about. This also covered resources and individuals/companies that refurbish for you or provide information how to do it yourself. And then I was pleasantly surprised to find recipes in the back.

I can’t see many people reading this unless you have cast iron or are just a nerd about the history of cast iron. But I enjoyed the read. It was weirdly just a ton of fun. Thank you to NetGalley and Red Lighting Books for the advanced copy. This is my honest review.

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