Cast iron pans have long been the choice for those in search of searing, enduring heat, and pieces that only get better with time. Many families pass pans from one generation to the next.
HOBNOB has uncovered designer specimens that bring joy with their form as well as function. Start your own tradition and invest in these lovingly-made pieces.
 Borough Furnace Skillets Who knew that waste vegetable oil could be used to transform iron? The team at Borough Furnace did. Owners John Truex and Liz Seru, developed an eco-friendly method of heating oil to an astounding 2700°F, and work batches of recycled iron to make these beautiful, modern skilllets. The 9-inch version has an extended handle, that stays cool to the touch. $280. The 12-inch Braising Skillet is great for one-pot dinners. $320. Each skillet is hand-made to order and comes pre-seasoned with organic flax seed oil. boroughfurnace.com
 Staub Cast Iron Mini Frying Pan This baby is the one to pull out for toasting seeds or making a quick sauce. Staub is known for marrying enamel with cast iron, and this mini is coated in matte black. The enamel works to keep food hot for long periods and is oven safe up to 500°F. A rough texture adds to exceptional browning. Requires no seasoning. Dishwasher safe. 4.75 inches. $60. amazon.com
 [this product is no longer available] Hoffman-Merallgefaesse Cast Iron Pan Could not help but fall in love with the simple, modern design of these award-winning German pans. They have a great rustic, almost ancient look, and would make splendid vessels for an outdoor fire pit or bbq. Designer Berthold Hoffmann works closely with local iron foundries at every stage to ensure quality craftmanship, and his works can be found in collections of leading museums of crafts and design. Bottoms of the pans are milled flat for better heat distribution. Pan with lid measures just under 12-inches in diameter. Can be ordered directly through the website. $585. hoffmann-metallgefaesse.de
 Nobuho Miya’s Nambu Cast Iron Set Nambu cast iron was first made in the mid-17th century in the Iwate prefecture in northern Japan. A master craftsman created the now age-old technique to produce wares known for their exceptional heat retention and even distribution, and for using a special lacquer glaze to prevent rust. Designer Nobuho Miya comes from a family of three generations of iron forgers, and has created a perfectly simple trio of pans. Just as tradition has endured in his family, so does the timeless, simple design. His elegant and contemporary work has been exhibited worldwide. Dimensions: approx. 7 1/4 inches, 9 1/2 inches, and 13 1/2 inches. $275 for the set of 3. houzz.com