Monday, April 30, 2012

Cast Iron-Around the Kitchen Table

Are you ready for a hot and heavy topic?
Something that sizzles...that can make you want more.....?

Okay did I get your
Of course I am talking CAST IRON COOKWARE!!!
The stuff your great-grandparents wagged all over America.
From steam boats to wagon trains.
Sold exclusively in all general stores.

Today they have been handed down...we can find them at garage sales
in thrift stores...and most of your big stores carry at least one or two
of the very shiny black skillets.

What is the great love affair we have with skillets? They LAST.
They cook GREAT.....and there is something special about
using your grandparents cookware. And most are made in the U.S.A.

Now how does cast iron help during an emergency?
Not only could it be used to bash an assailant...haha
You can cook with this cookware on a BBQ pit...a open fire, solar oven
 and of course still
use them in your home kitchen.

Now some of you have a fear that iron will leach into your food while cooking....
Versus the toxins off of the non-stick type cookware??? Really??

The main maker for them here in the U.S. is LODGE. There are some older, vintage
makers (Griswold) that you will inherit or find. Never buy the old ones with cracks running
through them....but problem. I know it is icky...but so correctable!

Take some steel wool and give it a good rub down.
Then you put the cast iron that is covered with rust in the coals of
a really hot fire...and let it cook...then you can get it out and just let it set till it cools off.
Dust it off....grease it with Lard...and bake it in your oven for about 30 min on 350.
This is called Seasoning your cast iron. Rust is something...if not stored through the years
correctly....will be a big problem for cast iron. Soap is a big enemy for cast iron also.
What???? How do I clean it?
Soap is only used for brand new ones...if they say too.
Because it stays so hot after you get your food out of it...we put water in it
to loosen anything that might of stuck. Easy comes right out.
Then we dry it really sitting it back on the stove top or in a warm oven.
Then if used daily you can spray it with Pam. If only used weekly or once a month
I would season it (rub down with oil or lard) after you use it. The
shinier the skillet the better seasoned it is.

A pretty elaborate back yard set up.
I have all different styles of cast iron. From skillets to Dutch ovens to

I have two types of dutch with legs one without.
Legs are primarily used for cooking outside. Coals under and on the lid.
Yes I said the lid...most have a lip around the edge to hold the coals. When cooking
this way...anything you can cook in an oven you can cook with this type of cooker.
The more coals the hotter the Dutch Oven.
When you read recipes they some will say 7 coals on top 12 under... this
could be cooking at 350. See like a oven! You can also cook with them stacked
the heat is awesome for cooking.

Without legs...inside on your stove top...outside hanging over a fire...or on a grate.

Some helps on cooking in these two kind of Dutch ovens. Cake pans will fit in the larger
 ovens and so will bundt cake pans. Get pie pans that
will fit in your Dutch Oven. I have cooked rice in a vintage mold pans...rice in pan...pan sitting
on round cake rack....pour some water in the oven and cover the rice with water...wala
cooked rice without sticking to the pot. You can cook with extra heavy
aluminum foil for easy cleanup.

Skillets are made in all different sizes. Let me tell you
the bigger they get the HEAVIER they are to move around.
At Wendy's we have cooked anything in them that I can cook at home in my cookware.
My 16 inch skillet will feed a crowd. I use my12 inch the most.

My favorite for making homemade biscuits!!
I love to make cornbread and biscuits in the griddles and the cornbread molds.
Butter and grease are your friends when cooking these

Cast Iron accesories
Long handle Spoons ...I got mine at a Kitchen supply house.
Lid lifters....remember these lids will have coals on them. I have seen
a crow bar used
You will need a well built sturdy lid lifter...Academy  and Cabella's has them. Fire proof
oven mitts or gloves or a must. And a place to set you lid down when checking
your food....remember lids will have coals on them.
You need to store your cast iron carefully. In your home you can store it in your closet
or cabinets normally...after seasoning paper towels in them for storage.
We have had to keep most of ours in our RV's. I made pot covers out of old pillowcases.
Remember we have been cooking on a fire...there will be some soot left on them.
I hope to find a truck tool chest to keep out by our fire pit. I am on the hunt for this.

Never try to pick up a cast iron anything....without hotpads. These
items stay hot for a long time after you are thru cooking. Some use the pot handle holders. I don't
I use extra heavy duty pot holders...not your thin ones!!
Never just set the hot cast iron on your counter....I don't care what kind of counter
you have...a really hot cast iron will scorch or even a leave a ring
on most counters. I took old phone books covered them with heavy
duty material...and then I could set it on my Marble counters.
I have a large wooden lazy susan I use also. Make sure whatever you use
it can take the heat and the weight.
I have heard mix reviews on what utensils to use ...wooden spoons vs. metal
kitchen tools. You really don't want to put little nicks all in it...not that it is easy to do.
I use both and I have not seen any problems.

Solar Cooking
In future chats we will discuss cooking in solar ovens.
The main cooking utensil you use is Cast Iron. It is black and retains
heat it is a must for this type of cooking.

If you don't have any cast iron....what do you need? I would purchase or find
a medium size can cook with this in your home kitchen, on a BBQ pit and on a grate
in a fire pit. You can cook a casserole, cornbread, biscuits, meat, dessert etc...You can wag
it with you if you had to leave your home in an emergency.
The second thing I would get is a  medium sized dutch oven.
You can cook in it anything a skillet will do plus you can make
stews, soups, heat water for drinking, and in an emergency you could wash clothes
in not my choice to do

Here is a website that I have used many, many times.
IDOS...International Dutch Oven Society...yes there is
You can get any questioned find some interesting
and fun places to get to go watch the cook offs.

You can google Dutch oven cooking, Cast iron cooking, Chuck Wagon Cooking
for more information. And of course the Lodge website.
Try to go go see someone cooking on a open at a Dutch Oven
Cooking contest...or a Chuck Wagon cook off. There you will see all different ways to
set up your fire pit area. We will discuss fire pits in a future chat.

All in all Cast Iron cookware has always been in our history and it seems
that some of us are using it now and it should be in our future.

Next week.....Water!
Do you know where your water comes from? In a huge emergency
and you had no electricity...all systems down....would you still get water
from your source? If you had notice of an impending disaster...could you store up some water and in where would you put it? And if you had to scrounge for your own water, could you purify it for drinking?
I know it is a lot of homework...but this one could be the most important assignment you tackle.

Thanks for chatting around the to get the cornbread out of the oven
Hugs Cindy


  1. As soon as I saw this, I started to type "But do you get the little corn cob-shaped corn bread sticks out of the pan?!" But I see the answer is grease/lard, NOT the no-stick sprays I always use. :) I soooooo wish I could get them out of the pan using just the spray--They look so cute when they're not in crumbles. :)

    Have a good week, Cindy--

    Love, ♥


  2. Wow! This is a pretty comprehensive post...I am going to save it to my Provident Living file in documents. I have cast iron pans and accessories in my long-term storage. We don't camp much since the kids grew up...we tend to travel instead, but as a family we used to go up in the canyon and have a dutch oven picnic...maybe we should do it with the grands this year. =D

  3. Hi Cindy! Love this post. Would you mind if I put a link to it on my post/blog today or tomorrow? When my parents passed away, the only thing my niece asked for was my mom's Dutch Oven. She remembered a lot of great food coming out of it over the years - and she now makes great things too. I still can remember how stuffed pork chops in it were so tender.

  4. We have not used ours in a really long time... the griddle and fry pan are from my nana. I do need to season them thanks for the info.
    Best chris

  5. oh've got us all hungry already! love all of your information about cast iron...and looking forward to the solar cooking blog...sounds interesting!
    After reading this, I'm thinking that I need to go grab the two skillets I have for camping and just start using them everyday ~ you're right about the non-stick stuff....I got rid of mine a year ago!
    hoping you have an enjoyable day :)

  6. Love all this info ! My family used cast iron exclusively, then I came along and had to have the non-stick stuff ... well a few years ago I changed my mind :) I've decided its the toxic chemicals in our plastic and non-stick that's affecting our cancer rates (I was diagnosed in '03). So out went the non-stick, made somewhere other than the US cookware, and its pretty much cast iron for me. I set out to find pots and pans for my niece (to meet my personal nit picky criteria) and couldn't believe what a task that would be, I'm still not sure about this one. Great info Cindy, look forward to more "table talk" Elaine

  7. Thinking about cast iron makes me think about corn bread and that makes me hungry! I have my Great aunts old Griswold frying pan that I use all the time. You can't beat it for fried chicken, fried potatoes and onions, and pineapple upside down cake!



  8. I have my MOL cast iron frying pan and I love it for cooking certain things. I didn't know the how=tos on caring for it. Thanks for all the great info.

  9. Wow! What a collection and what great information. You know, I specifically use cast iron, hoping some of the iron will leach out. I think most women could use a little more iron. So, not a problem here. Thanks for this Cindy.

  10. Love that cast iron and love that my two eagle scouts learned the right way to cook, clean and season it...The only way to cook biscuits...smiles...Renee

  11. What an informative post! I was raised on cooking in cast iron! The best food ever comes from an iron skillet:) Have a blessed week my friend, HUGS!

  12. Great post, Cindy. Nothing better than cornbread baked in a cast iron skillet! Haven't done the open fire thing but thinking that'd be fun to try next time we do a bon fire:)


  13. So many great posts here on your sweet blog, Cindy! I really enjoyed reading about these wonderful cast iron pieces :)

  14. Wow! that's a lot of information:) I too have several pieces of cast iron, including some pieces that belonged to my husband's grandmother. I even have an old cast iron kettle that I believe was used to cook over an open fire by a very elderly lady that lived on my husband's grandparents farm. It had a hole in the bottom so I use it every spring for planting looks so quaint! Thanks for all the interesting reading on cast iron!

  15. What a great post, Cindy! Thank you for the excellent photos...They are so helpful! My hubby and I have been actively prepping for quite a while. I so appreciate your sharing, sweet friend!

  16. Thanks for visiting my blog Cindy. Great article on cast iron. I gave all mine away when the carpal tunnel made it hard to handle but I am looking to get at least a frying pan again. Nothing else is the same.


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