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This cutie arrived super fast. It came in Amazon box stuffed with those air filled plastic bags - adequate I suppose. It came with the Lodge tag, and there were no cracks. The machining around the lip was unfinished in one spot, but not crucial to its function. It just won't be placed in the museum of modern art.
I read ALL of the reviews and per a lot of recommendations I am going to double or triple season this per instructions because the inadequate manufacturer seasoning was one of the most common complaints, so I'm going old school re seasoning cast iron.
Another less common complaint from long time users of cast iron is that Lodge pots and pans are not as smoothly machined as in "my grandmother's days". True. If that bothers you there are videos of how to further machine it to a fine sheen. I don't think I'm going to do that however. I think the extra seasoning serves OKAY. Cook your eggs in a nice coated Paderno pan (sold at Canadian Tire)- they slide right out.
This size and shape makes a great efficient use of oil as a fryer for dumplings and other fried tidbits - just add a pound of lard and bring to temperature - it will hold the temperature which is a major reason - besides its size and shape - I purchased it.
It also makes a great Korean Bim Bim Bop hot bowl for a cold winter night.
For a lid you can get at dollar stores those lids with silicone edging that allows it to fit different diameter pots or pans I also got at the dollar store a mesh splatter guard that is a perfect fit. Dollar stores also sell the small protective mitts with silicone pads - perfect - or purchase the silicone handle covers.
Yes the paper towel does turn dark in the 'first life" of cast iron and it takes time and multiple oiling and heating. to bring cast iron to "maturity". Don't start out cooking or heating acidic foods - start out frying.
Another reason I bought this is that I wondered what I would heat foods with if electricity went out, and I purchased sterno cans and a sturdy base to set this faux-wok in (it's technically not a wok). It will hold the heat.
Also over a camp fire pit you can fashion or find a steel handle (a metal coat hanger?) and raise it up over the fire for heat control while stewing something delicious - just like in medieval kitchens. I like that it has a thick flat exterior base so it won't topple over when placed on a flat surface. I also have on order the 5" Lodge cookware with curved handles and will use that for a fondue pot filled with warm yummy melted cheese. Unlike other quality pots and pans you can't just sit this waiting in the sink - you have to quick step it from dirty to clean and dry and oiled immediately. It's a labor of love.