**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. :)

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Have a Question?

Kat S. from New York wrote to Ask The Pan Handler and said:

“I just received a french cast iron pot from my grandmother. She and my grandfather bought it in France about 70 years ago. The initials on the cover are CA which I understand is a very old company. When I got the pot it was very crusted with carbon buildup (not much rust) so I went about scrubbing the lid first to see what was going on with a 00 steel wool brush and got most of the sticky gunk off of the interior of the lid. Now I can see that the buildup was hiding a grey/silvery/blue coating that has many pock marks. I wasn’t sure what to do and put it down for a week. I just looked at it again and the spaces between the coating are rusted so I think I may have coated coquette.

I’m not really sure what to do now… I want to use it and keep using it for many years (I’m not concerned with sale value – just memories!). Should I have it sandblasted to remove the coating? Or does the rust signify that the beneath the coating is bad?

I am attaching some pictures so you can see what I have going on.

I really appreciate your help. I don’t want to compromise this piece being used for generations to come!!”

Kat attached these photos:

Kat, thanks so much for your inquiry. Isn’t it wonderful that your grandparents are handing down a treasured set for you to use?

I have seen that marking before; I know it is “early,” but I do not know the manufacturer. It is hard for me to tell from the photos whether you have an enameled piece or whether you just have a lot of crud build up. I suspect the latter, but I cannot be sure – the second photo looks like it might be enameled, but the lid is not.

I would try sandblasting only as a last resort…I would try every other method first. And if you did decide to try sandblasting, know  that it will likely permanently change the texture of the set and drastically reduce its collectable value.

I would suggest starting with the “Easy Off” oven cleaner method. You can see that method described in more detail here and in the FAQs section of the site. If that did not work, I would next move to a lye bath method. There are many different ways to accomplish a lye bath – it is my “usual” first-step process in cleaning. You can find a description of the process all over the web; one method is found here. My guess is that if the Easy Off process does not remove the gunk, the lye bath will. I hope so, anyway; I hate to think of you having this treasured family heirloom sandblasted.

Good luck to you – do let me know how it turns out for you, and thank you for your inquiry!

Have a Question?

Joe A. from Texas wrote to Ask The Pan Handler and said:

“I found this lid in a pasture back in 1993 while doing some historical research. The lid is cast iron and the only markings I could find was #16. From surface to top of outer rim is 1 3/8″, including handle would be about 3″. From Top view the diameter is 16 1/4, the inner circle in which the handle is located has a diameter of 5″, the handle itself is 4 1/2 ” wide.The inside rim that keeps the lid from sliding off is 14 3/4″ and about 1/8 ” thick.”

Joe attached these photos:

Joe, thanks so much for providing the great specifics about the lid and where and when you found it; that does help me to identify pieces. Thanks, too, for the good photos.

What you have here is an antique cast iron lid in a size 16. It would fit the size 16 “oven” or pot that was made by the same foundry. The lid has a raised flange on top, which suggests to me that it was made to fit a chuckwagon, or camp oven. These pots typically had three legs. The raised flange would hold coals or another heat source on top, to enable heat to be placed both on top and beneath the camp oven (see my post on cooking in a camp oven, here). Some old handled deep skillets, called “spiders,” were also used in this manner. Those old skillets also typically had three legs.

Your lid has a gate mark – that slightly raised slash on the underside of the lid which presents as kind of a long scar. That gate mark tells me that your lid is very old; likely around or before the 1880s. There were many, many cast iron foundries in existence throughout history, and unfortunately it is impossible to tell with certainty which foundry produced this lid. It is a cool piece, though; a vinegar/water soak would get rid of that rust, and you would have a nice lid that just needs a pot to sit on!

Thanks for your inquiry; sorry I was not able to provide you with a specific identification.


Have a Question?

Giovanni M from Virginia wrote to Ask The Pan Handler, and said:

“Good morning, I have a technical question on this griddle picture attached. Can you identify it by the correct ‘Size Number’ because I know a lot of makers used the same nomenclature for these things, but I can’t for the life of me figure it out. The markings on the back say US CMC 1951. It weighs a lot, maybe 40 lbs. Appreciate your assistance, you seem to know a lot about this stuff. I have a few other old pots and cast iron pans hanging around but for now, I need to research this one, thanks again.”

Giovanni attached this photo to his request:

Giovanni, that looks like a nice griddle that just needs a bit of cleaning up before it can be put to good use!

If I understand your question correctly, you are asking me to kind of “assign” a number to your griddle, such as are commonly used by other manufacturers, e.g. Griswold long griddle number 8, Wagner long griddle number 9, etc.

It looks like your Korean War Military griddle measures about 31″ handle to handle, 28″ long not including the handles, and 19″ wide. You said it weighs about 42 pounds.

I can tell you that a Griswold “Family Grill” – apparently considered by Griswold to be a size 18 – measures 16-3/4″ x 10″. A number 11 Griswold long griddle, however, measures 25″ x 13-1/2″. One Griswold size 8 long griddle measures 19-5/8″ x 9-1/2″. Another measures 10-1/8″ x 7-3/4″. So, it’s pretty much impossible to assign a size number to your griddle; you’ll just  need to be satisfied that you have a big nice long griddle!

Thank you for your question, Giovanni!


I have mentioned before that I have been trying Blue Apron and really enjoying the experience. Sometimes I LOVE what I’ve made, sometimes I like it, and only once did I actively dislike what I made.

This is one of of those occasions where I LOVED what I made. The steak and sauce was fantastic! I over-salted the kale, so didn’t love it, but without so much salt I am sure I would have enjoyed it more. The potatoes were good as well.

Yet another occasion to cook steak in my Griswold #8 slant logo skillet!

Steaks au Poirve with Crispy Fingerling Potatoes and Sautéed Kale

From Blue Apron. Serves 2 (though I loved the steak and sauce so much I ate most of both at once!), ~700 calories per serving.

Ingredients: 2 top sirloin steaks (about 10 oz. total was provided – use more or less to your taste) 2 cloves garlic 1 bunch kale 3?4 lb fingerling potatoes 2 T crème fraîche 1 T butter 1 T beef demi-glace 1?2 t coarsely ground black ppper 1/4 c grated parmesan cheese Salt, pepper, olive oil


Cook & peel the potatoes:

Wash and dry the kale. Heat a medium pot of salted water to boiling on high. Once boiling, add the potatoes and cook 14 to 16 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and set aside to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, using a paring knife, carefully peel the cooked potatoes; discard the skins. Transfer to a bowl.

Note: I thought that peeling the potatoes was a pain. Were I to make them again, I would leave them unpeeled.

Prepare the ingredients:

While the potatoes cook, peel and mince the garlic. Remove and discard the kale stems; coarsely chop the leaves.

Cook the steaks:

Pat the steaks dry with paper towels; season both sides with salt and half the black pepper (reserving the rest). In a size 8 or larger cast iron skillet (one big enough to hold your steaks without crowding), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until browned and cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a plate, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Set the cooked steaks aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Cook the kale:

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the cast iron pan with reserved fond; heat on medium until hot. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the kale and 1?4 cup of water. Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up any fond from the bottom of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and the liquid has cooked off. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese; season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside in a warm place. Rinse and wipe out the pan.

Note: I followed the Blue Apron directions and added salt and pepper at various stages of cooking the kale. I deleted that from the instructions, as my kale was far too salty. The parmesan itself is salty; I would hold off on seasoning with salt until you taste after cooking.

Brown the potatoes:

In the same cast iron skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the peeled potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until crispy and browned on all sides. Transfer to a bowl and set aside in a warm place. Wipe out the skillet.

Finish & plate:

Return the rested steaks to the pan. Add the demi-glace, crème fraîche, remaining black pepper and 1?4 cup of water; cook on medium, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly reduced (note: this happened very quickly for me). Add the butter; cook, spooning the sauce over the steaks, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the finished steaks to a cutting board; thinly slice against the grain. Divide the cooked kale, browned potatoes and sliced steaks between 2 plates. Top with the pan sauce. Serve any remaining pan sauce on the side.

Enjoy, and just try to restrain yourself from eating both steaks, as I did!






We visited Harold R. Henry of Hamilton, Missouri in October 2015 and I wrote a long, photo-laden blog post about his collection (you can find it by looking in the October 2015 archives of the blog). Southern Cast Iron Magazine has condensed and printed it in their Spring 2016 edition, hitting newsstands in mid-March 2016.

Here is a link to purchase the magazine online, if you are so inclined.

Reprinted with permission.