I have tried just about every kind of cook-ware available. Glass. Ceramic. Stainless. Teflon. Aluminum. Cast iron. I have tossed out all of my cook-ware except for a few stainless sauce-pots and my cast-iron cook-ware for one simple reason - nothing cooks like cast. I have in my collection 5" short-wall, 5" high-wall, 8" short-wall, 8" high-wall, 10" short-wall, 10" high-wall, 12" high-wall, cook-plates, dutch-oven, waffle-iron, roasting-pot, stew-pot, etc. Heating the cast iron is simple. Place on stove, over fire or in BBQ and allow to warm up. Once the cook-ware is warm with a little bit of oil (if required) you can start cooking. It takes almost no time to warm-up and it holds the heat "forever". I find that the use of salt-and-pepper is not required when cooking with cast iron. I found that my iron deficiency (anemia) is kept under control without the need for extra iron pills all the time. The food has a much better flavour! I have been cooking with cast-iron now as my primary cook-ware for 15 years and I have 10 years of professional cooking experience as well. I love to cook for crowds and love to cook for my loved-ones. I guess you could say, I love to cook! Care of your Cast-iron New cast-iron you will want to prepare it for cooking by heating it in a dry heat (oven works great) at 350° to 400°F to cook off the shipping coating. Allow the cast iron to cool (to touch) and then wash with pure water and green-scrubbie. Place on an stove element to warm up (dry). Take oil (or fat) and coat the entire cast-iron cook-ware (handle, inside, outside, everything) and put into the oven at 350° for 1 hour. Take it back out of the oven and wipe down with paper-towel - allow to cool (stove-top works well). Daily use of cast-iron Warm up your cast iron and apply a little amount of oil (fat, PAM, etc) and cook your food on it. Leaving the cook-ware on the stove after placing food into serving dish is fine. For a minor mess, wipe out with paper-towel. For "wet-mess", wipe out cast-iron with water and green-scrubbie. Do not use soap. Do not allow to soak in water. You will damage the cook-ware. If you do - don't worry about it - follow the steps for new cast-iron preparations. The cast iron must be used - regularly. If it isn't, the oils that are baked into the iron can "go bad" and have a weird smell. If that happens - bake the cast iron in a flame (BBQ works well) - spray fresh oil onto the cast-iron and cook with it while hot. What can be cooked on / in cast iron I have baked deep-dish pizze in my 12" pan, BBQ'd my pancakes, bacon, eggs, sausage, made my hot-sauces, cooked spagetti, baked lasagna, roasts, ham, deer, chicken, etc. I will cook with my dutch-oven over an open fire making a chili or stew (with dumplings - yummy). Thanksgiving ham cooked in a dutch-oven out in the middle of no-where is great! Hmm .. back to topic again Lids I purchased lids for my stove-top cook-ware seperately (one 5" and one 12") that are also made of cast-iron, my dutch oven and chili-pot both came with lids. I find using the lid keeps the food moist and hot! The lids have spikes pointing towards the food to direct moisture back into the food. Steaming vegies with a bit of water, oil and spices makes a quick and delicious meal. There is alot of information on the 'net about cast-iron cooking and dutch-oven cooking. Way more than what I can put into a single message. I have 3 receipe books dedicated to cast-iron dutch-oven cooking which I read and try the amazing receipes from time to time. Practice daily your cooking skills and you will be able to make meals fit for a king.