We're big fans of cast iron cookware, but it does take a little more maintenance than some other materials. Most importantly you need to season cast iron. Seasoning simply means a patina of carbon which not only protects the pan from rust (which exposed iron will do rapidly), but also gives cast iron a natural non-stick finish. Many pans come pre-seasoned these days, but if you need to re-season or refurbish a rusted pan here's how to do it.
With the economy in recession a lot of people are cooking at home more frequently. That means more grocery store visits than in years past and as we all know it's easy to go way over budget if you go in unprepared. We've got a series of tips coming up, but we're throwing in one of the biggest money savers in first: rotate your proteins based on the sale at your preferred store. It sounds simple, but grocery stores frequently use one or two proteins as loss leaders to get you into the store. If you plan your meals around what's on sale you will save serious cash. A great side benefit is you won't get into a rut because you'll end up buying different cuts every week.
We used to soften butter in the microwave (which is about all the work it ever does), but after reading this tip from Elise Bauer we may never actually use the microwave again. It turns out you can take cold butter and soften it simply by rolling it out between wax paper.