**Please note: To see the photos contained within a post, you must click on the title of the post to open it separately. Why? I don't know. I just know that it needs to be done to see the pics. :)

My grandfather - Selwyn Norden

This, as you know, is cast iron blog. I usually post about cooking, or cleaning, or identifying cast iron cookware, or fabulous collections that enthusiasts have shared with us.

Today though, is Veterans’ Day, so instead of talking about cast iron, I will start by talking about my grandfather.

My grandfather’s birthday was July 4, and this year he would have turned 100.

He was an army sergeant in World War 2. He was a Rat of Tobruk, battling Rommel’s forces in Libya, caught a spy, and fought in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, where he contracted malaria and was retired honorably from the Army.

Source: https://www.awm.gov.au

He went on to live a happy, peaceful life as a suburban accountant, raising his family, gardening, volunteering in the community and enjoying a glass of scotch every day at 5pm.

My grandfather, however, was not unscathed. He refused to watch anything on television associated with war. He couldn’t talk about his time fighting the Japanese in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, and there was a very strict rule in our house that under no circumstances could we slam a door of any kind, for he would leap into the air in shock, thinking the house was under attack.

Back in those days, returned soldiers were understood to have missing limbs, or horrific physical scars, but there was no acknowledgement of the psychological wounds that would be inflicted. They were left untreated. We were fortunate enough that my grandfather was able to have a happy life with softly closing doors and judicious changing of the television channel, but others were not so fortunate.

In writing this, I could find plenty of data on the numbers of soldiers killed in the world wars, or how many were wounded, but nothing on suicide rates, or alcoholism, or fractured families or domestic violence of returned combat veterans from that era. There were only whispers in one’s family or village that a person who had returned “was never the same”.

It seems to me that there are many ways for a soldier to die on the battlefield. Your heart doesn’t always have to stop beating, the eyes stop seeing and the limbs stop moving. They may still come home, but they are strangers, both to themselves and their families. The person they were has died. The body may continue on, or it may blow its head off, or hang itself in the barn, but that person died at war.

So today, let us remember, and respect, and thank all our veterans, the living, the thriving, the surviving, and the fallen.

You are all our warriors in the service to our country, and we wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms we do today without you.

Thank you.

Griswold No. 22 Corn Bread Pan

Stephanie from the Pacific North West wanted to know more about this Griswold Corn Bread Pan.

This corn bread pan was one of Griswold’s most prolific baking pans.  Even though it has “Corn Bread Pan” inscribed on the underside, it is known as the “Griswold No. 22 Bread Stick Pan, pattern number 954” and was made in Erie, Pennsylvania from the 1880’s all the way up to the 1950’s.  According to the book ‘Griswold Muffin Pans’ by Jon B. Haussler (available from Amazon here) there are 15 (!!!!) known variations of this pan.

Stephanie’s pan is variation 12, which is one of the most common variations of this pan.  It’s one of the later iterations of the pan, and has the hanging holes (which started appearing in Variation 7) and the Griswold name inscribed on the underside (which started in Variation 10).

Whilst there are no particularly rare variations, many collectors have fun trying to hunt down them all.   These pans are pretty easy to find, in flea markets, antique stores or garage sales. We always have some of these (usually Variation 15, below) available on the site too.

Don’t think you’re limited to just making bread sticks in them – I made crab cakes in a bread stick pan during a fun competition that founder Mary had a couple of years ago.  She even wrote a blog post about it here (with recipe)!

All in all, this is a fun, accessible baking pan to have.

Happy Cooking, Stephanie!

 

Griswold No. 12 Cast Iron Skillet

Question: Bill C from Virginia wrote “I have a Griswold #11 or model 717 fry pan. It works good with gas but I want to use it on a flat surface electric stove. Can I grind down the ring on bottom side of pan without affecting function of pan?”

Anna’s Answer:  You can use pans with heat rings on electric stoves, so I’m wondering if the pan already has a significant wobble, or maybe some warpage.

Many vintage pans, particularly the larger ones, do have a small amount of movement.  This doesn’t preclude them from being used on all cooking surfaces, a pan doesn’t need to be pancake flat, but if it has a severe rock or it spins, or you can slide something bigger than a nickel under the side then it’s not going to be a good cooker on a flat cooking surface such as an electric stove or induction cooktop.  Of course, if you have raised burners such as with a gas range, or you want to use it in the oven or camping, you’ll be just fine.  Mary wrote a great blog on pan movement here.

Let’s say Bill’s pan does have a big wobble, and preheating the pan isn’t enough to compensate.  Bill can grind his heat ring down, but how flat the surface would be will depend on a combination of how evenly the heat ring is removed, and how flat the pan is otherwise, so Bill needs to be careful to stop at various times during the grinding process, and check how flat is pan is, and where the wobbles might be.  This way he can adjust until both the heat ring is removed, and the pan sits flat on his stove.

After all, once you’ve ground something off, you can’t put it back on again, so be very conservative in your approach!

It’s important to note that grinding the heat ring off a Griswold such as this will reduce its value, and its desirability as a collector’s item.  Generally, the Griswold #11’s are harder to find than the #10’s or #12’s, so personally I would acquire another pan, or another stove, before doing this.

It’s clear though that you want to use this pan, rather than have it for decoration, so if the value to you lies in its function, rather than its resale, then the change in value doesn’t matter.

Bill C – I hope you can let us know what you decide to do, and if you do grind the heat ring off, tell us how it went, and send a few photos!

 

Baking Pans

Howdy friends,

I’ve just returned from what I think was the biggest cast iron sale of the year, at Simmons Auction!  Oh boy, was it an experience!

Pan-Handler founder Mary and I drove down to Richmond, MO from the Twin Cities to attend.  The auction was open the previous day for viewing of the lots, but we arrived at 7 am on auction morning to check it all out.

Even though pictures were available online for bidders who couldn’t be there in person, nothing compares to seeing everything up close.  Often, pans will have tool marks, scratches or warping that may not be visible in the pictures.  We’ll be frank – several of the pans we were initially excited about had wire-wheel marks that reduced both their good looks, and their value, so we had to pass.  We wrote about wire wheels and their impact on pans in an earlier blog post you can find here.

Example of a pan with wire-wheel use

There were approximately 750 lots, with many lots covering several pans at once.   When we say this was a big cast iron sale, we weren’t kidding!

Some of the pans at the auction!

Mary and I spent two hours going through all the lots to find the nicest stuff, and calculating what would be a reasonable price to pay.  We didn’t make it all the way before the bidding began though!

As you can see, it didn’t take me long to start collecting pans.  Eventually, they allocated a separate corner of the room just for my pans.

Serious Bidding!

There were some fun pieces too, including a donut maker, the Lodge California Acorn Pan, and a heart & star gem pan.  There was even a large cross shaped wafer iron.

Cast Iron Donut Maker

California Acorn Pan by Lodge

Mostly though, there were lots and lots of pans…. baking pans, griddles, waffle irons, dutch ovens.  It was cast iron heaven!

Never Ending Pans!

Lids Lids Lids!

Baking Pans

Needless to say, there were some serious cast iron collectors there.  People had come from all over the country.  Whilst some had only a couple of hours drive from within the state, there were others from Minnesota, Indiana, South Carolina, and one couple who had driven all night from Louisiana.  Folks were here to bid!

I had met many of these people at the G&CICA National Convention in Springfield, MO back in May, so it felt a bit like a mini-reunion.

Many people ask, what is an auction really LIKE?   Well, for starters, it moves fast!  They were selling at a rate of approximately 100 lots per hour, which is more than one lot per minute.  More than one person got caught up in a conversation and missed bidding on a piece they had their eye on!  You really need to pay attention.

Secondly, there are no breaks.  The auctioneers rotate in and out, so if you need to step away, you need to time it with a bunch of pieces you don’t want to bid on, and always keep an eye on the screen to see what lot number they’re up to.  It’s more than just the auctioneers too, there are “spotters” who each have a side of the room to keep an eye out for bids.  You don’t need to throw up your paddle every time, once they know you’re in, they look at you to see if you’re going to bid.  All you have to do is nod, waggle your finger, or flutter your eyelashes and they take your bid.

The auctioneer can’t cover the whole room, so they keep track of the price and listen to the spotters’ calls.  The spotters also have different styles of call.  They yell, hoot and holler in all manner of ways.  The first day I had Larry mostly watching me – I could turn my back to him and wiggle my toes to bid, and he’d still see it!  The second day I had Mike, who made what sounded like bird calls when calling bids “Yep Yep Yep Yeeeeeaaaahhhhh”  “Yep Yep Yep Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhh”

The Auction Team: From Left, Jim McVee, Mike Stephens, Bob Simmons, Larry Edwards

We finished about 500 lots the first day in about 6 hours.  We were exhausted, but we weren’t done yet!  There was a lot of packing to do, and Mary was inspecting the lots for the following day.  It was an early night back at the hotel.

Day 2

Day 2 had about half the lots of Day 1, but the bidders were looking fierce.  There were some rare and beautiful pieces that were on the cards.  The item most anticipated was Lot #554, the Favorite Piqua Ware No. 13 Skillet. There were also 2 Griswold No. 13 skillets, one slant logo and one large block logo, a rare Griswold No. 2800 What & Corn Stick Pan, and a rare No. 9 Griswold Gem Pan (pattern number 347, variation 3).  Finally, there was a Griswold block logo loaf pan cover.  I have to admit, this is what I had my eye on.

By the time Lot #554 came up, the excitement in the room was palpable. These pans are as rare as hens’ teeth, and collectors had sold their grandmothers and were wielding checkbooks!  The bidding was epic and jumped over $1,000 very quickly.  Once it hit $4,000 there were only two bidders left in the fight.  It slowed down, the increments lessened, and it eventually sold to an Indiana collector for $4,900!

It wasn’t long until the other rare items were up, the two Griswold #13 skillets and the 2800 corn stick pan all went for over $1,000.  The No. 9 Gem pan sold for $2,000.  My budget didn’t stretch to these items, but it was highly entertaining watching other people battle it out.

The auction finished earlier than Day 1, and Mary and I were able to load up the car and head back to the Twin Cities that day.  I’m sorry to say that I missed out on the donut maker and the acorn pan.

Did I get anything interesting?  Well…..

We made it all fit!

I brought back 70 pans (including quite a few beautiful ERIE pans), 10 dutch ovens, 10 waffle irons, some griddles, a LOT of lids, and….

Griswold Loaf Pan Lid

……..a very special Griswold loaf pan lid.

Strawberry Pound Cake

A hidden gem of vintage cast iron is the small pan.  Everybody understands the need for a good sized skillet that you can cook for your family in, but sometimes people will look at their small pans, like their No. 3’s, and scratch their heads.

We did a whole lot of baking over many weeks to give you some ideas.  Small pans are incredibly versatile, and once you’ve read this you’ll be brimming with ideas of how you can use yours.  For this article, we used four Wagner #3 skillets.  A Skillet Size Search will show you all our No. 3’s, right here.

We also took a lot of our inspiration from the 2017 edition of “Cast Iron Baking” magazine, which was written by Hoffman Media, the folks behind Southern Cast Iron and Taste of the South magazines.  To get your own copy of Cast Iron Baking magazine, just click here, or to get a subscription to Southern Cast Iron, click here.

Firstly, the easy one – Eggs for one!   If you’re making yourself one or two eggs, you don’t want a big 10″ or 12″ pan.  These smaller pans are just perfect for when you’re frying up some breakfast just for yourself.  They are small, light and take about 10 seconds to clean afterwards.

Second, Mac & Cheese!   Whether it’s from a box, or made from scratch, mac & cheese is perfect for the #3.  Best of all, you can serve it directly in the skillet.  The one pictured was made using Cracker Barrel “Sharp Cheddar & Bacon”, and it was good.

 

Of course, there are also Desserts! You can bake mini skillet cakes in #3’s.  We used this Strawberry Pound Cake recipe from the cover of the 2017 edition of “Cast Iron Baking” magazine.

We think that maybe the cakes are a little large for one person, but they are perfect for two!  Our friend Bonnie was a taste tester and liked them so much she took all of the cakes home!

Please note that the recipe produced 4 x #3 skillets of cake, so adjust the quantities if you don’t have four #3 skillets.

Skillet Cookies!!!

Who doesn’t love a warm skillet cookie?  This is something you can eat right out of the pan!

The recipe we used was from page 86 of the magazine, that we adapted from one big skillet, to 4 smaller ones.  The recipe was perfect for either, but when cooking in the smaller skillets, take them out of the oven at the earlier end of the suggested cooking times.  It tasted even better than it looked!

Cast Iron Baking also gave us permission to share the recipe, which is at the bottom of the page.

Brownies

If you love the crusty edge pieces, then the smaller pans give you all that!

Cobbler

Cobblers are PERFECT for a single serving in the #3’s.  We celebrated our first spring meal on the deck with a cobbler!

 

Tips

All the recipes produced 4 skillets of food The original baking times were perfect, just stick to the lower end of the recommended range The original cooking temperatures in the recipes were perfect.

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Reprinted with permission from Cast Iron Baking Magazine 2017

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened) 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1 large egg 0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 0.5 teaspoon kosher salt 1.5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels Vanilla Ice Cream – to serve

First Preheat oven to 350’F.  Spray a 10″ cast-iron skillet (or four No. 3 skillets) with cooking spray

Second In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 – 4 mins, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add egg and vanilla, beating to combine.

Third In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined.  With mixer on low speed, gradually add cream.  Fold in chocolate morsels.  Press dough into prepared skillet.

Last Bake until golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes (20 mins for No. 3 pans).  Serve with ice cream.

 

Links

Cast Iron Baking 2017

Southern Cast Iron Magazine

Taste of the South Magazine