**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?

Luis N from New Hampshire wrote to “Ask The Pan Handler” and asked whether nickel plating can be removed from Griswold cast iron pans.

For those of you who haven’t seen a nickel plated finish on a vintage cast iron piece, here is a photo of one:

Wapak #8 skillet with nickel plated finish.

Some pieces are also finished with chrome. Here are some Griswold pieces with the chrome finish:

Griswold pieces with chrome finish (from the collection of Harold R. Henry).

There is a difference between the two, as you can see. The chrome is the mirror-like finish. The nickel is the duller silver finish.

Often, when you find these pieces – whether it be nickel or chrome plating – the finish has worn of to some extent, so they are not as attractive (depending on your point of view, of course) as a piece with intact plating or a black iron piece. Luis’s question is one I commonly hear.

I do not know of a way to safely remove either nickel or chrome plating at home. The only way I know of to remove nickel or chrome plating on old vintage cast iron pieces is to contact a plating company. If you do a google search for chrome plating services and / or chrome plating company, you will be able to locate a plating company. At that point, you can make a call and inquire as to cost.

Readers, if you know of a way to safely remove chrome or nickel plating from vintage cast iron at home, please write in and tell me. If I learn something more, I will update this post.

Good luck Luis, and thank you for your question!




Wow. If you have a cold, this soup will clear your sinuses right up!

I have been enjoying Blue Apron for a few months now. The meals I get are mostly vegetarian, because there are a lot of proteins that I consider scary and won’t eat. I will try any vegetable, however.

Today I made Vadouvan-Spiced Parsnip Soup. Prior to making this recipe, I had never heard of Vadouvan spice. Per Blue Apron, I learned that it is a “French-influenced curry powder best known for its addition of aromatics like shallow and garlic to traditional Indian curry spices.” And I did’t even think I liked curry powder! I also have never had soup that had raisins as an ingredient.

This soup has a wonderful spicy heat that lingers with you; the Greek yogurt cuts it nicely. Very complex flavors and tasty! Great for a light lunch.

Vadouvan-Spiced Parsnip Soup

Recipe from Blue Apron. I made very few modifications; just tot change the heat for using a cast iron pot, and to adjust for leftovers – adding the lemon to the soup once served, and only seasoning part of the yogurt. I’ll add more lemon to my leftovers once reheated, and mix the yogurt just prior to serving the leftover soup. While the recipe says it serves 2, it easily makes 4 luncheon servings. I suppose it could serve two if someone had a very very hearty appetite, but I’m sure I’ll get four bowls from this recipe.

Makes: 2 Servings (I found it makes more like 4 luncheon-sized servings) Calories: About 550 Per Serving Cooking Time: 25 to 35 minutes

Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the collard greens. Remove and discard the collard green stems; roughly chop the leaves. Medium dice the baguette. Peel the parsnip; quarter lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise. Peel and small dice the sweet potato and onion. Quarter and deseed the lemon.

Make the croutons:

In your cast iron Griswold Iron Mountain chicken pan (or other suitable pot, if you insist), heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add the diced baguette; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 4 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the pot.

Start the soup:

Add 2 teaspoons olive oil to the same pot in which you made your croutons. Add the parsnip, sweet potato and onion; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.

Add the tomato paste & spices:

Add the tomato paste and spice blend to the pot; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and fragrant.

Finish the soup and season the yogurt:

Add the collard greens, raisins and 4 cups of water to the pot; season with salt and pepper. Heat to boiling on medium. As soon as it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and the liquid is slightly reduced in volume. Place your desired amount of yogurt into a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the juice of 1/4 lemon. Remove the pot from the heat. Spoon your desired amount of soup into a bowl. Squeeze the juice of 1/4 lemon into the bowl.

Serve your soup!

Top your bowl of soup with the desired amount of croutons and seasoned yogurt. Eat and enjoy!

564-77 Griswold Hammered Cast Iron No. 5 Skillet


Okay pan peeps, it’s time for some tough talk.

A pan does not have to sit perfectly absolutely totally flat to be an excellent cooker. Really. I can assure you that even if a pan does not sit absolutely totally and completely flat and solid against the cooking surface, it may still be a fabulous pan.

Folks talk a lot about this issue with me, especially people who are new to cooking with cast iron. We recently read a comment on a forum where a person was concerned about a half-millimeter variance on the bottom of a new cast iron pan he had purchased. Really? There is apparently a common misperception that a pan has to have absolutely no movement whatsoever to be a great cooker.

That is not the case.

This is not to say that a pan that rocks or spins or has a big wobble is suitable for cooking on all cooktops. It’s not. It’s also not to say that warpage is not an important consideration when purchasing a vintage pan; it is.

It is common for pans to have some small amount of movement when pressing along the upper edge. It is particularly common with larger-sized pans and with chicken pans. In fact, it is probably more common than not that a large pan or chicken pan may have some slight movement. Does it matter? It depends. How much movement is there? A slight amount is not going to matter one whit, regardless of your cooktop. A pan that rocks or spins, however, is best suited for use on a burner with raised burners, for use on a grill or outdoors, or for baking.

Here is a vid Mary made to show the slight movement of her personal and much-loved Griswold Iron Mountain chicken pan:

I have a glass cooktop. Because of that, I do not want to use a pan that spins or rocks; I want as much of the bottom surface to be in contact with my cooktop as possible. I also do not want a pan to spin on my cooktop as I do not want to scratch my cooktop. Similarly with a convection cooktop, you want as much of the surface to be in contact with the cooktop as possible. However, I have seen pans with heat rings used on convection cooktops, where the bottom surface of the pan is not in complete contact with the cooktop, and they work just fine. All of my pans have heat rings, and I cook on a glass cooktop where the pan needs contact for the burner to work; I like to think I’m a good cook. And I know that my pans are awesome cookers.

You simply need to preheat your skillet. You should typically do this anyway when cooking with cast iron skillets. Cast iron holds its heat beautifully, of course. The entire surface of the pan does not need to have contact with the glass or convection cooktop to cook. Disabuse yourself of that notion.

Here is a video of my personal #11 ERIE pan, which I use all the time on my glass cooktop:

As you can see, my #11 pan has some slight movement when pressing along the upper edge. I do not notice this one bit when I am cooking with this pan; in fact, I did not even know it had this slight movement until I made this video for use in this blog post. It simply does not matter.

The same is true for my #12 Iron Mountain pan:

I had a person recently tell me that his glass cooktop is “fussy” and he must have a pan with absolutely no movement. I bet he heard this from someone; I bet he would love my #11 ERIE pan and not even notice that it had some slight movement.

There is a big difference between this:

and this:

There is also a difference between a pan that has significant warping, like this:

and a pan that has a slight movement when pressing along the top, like this:

There is also a difference between  a pan that you can make move a bit when pressing very hard on the rim of the pan – you can probably make just about any pan move if you press hard enough along the rim – like this:

And a pan that spins:

Try an experiment. Take one of your pans that you think “sits flat,” and place it on a flat countertop, cooktop, or table. Make sure there are no crumbs or specks of stuff on either the bottom of the pan or the flat surface. Now, take a business card or piece of paper. Run it along the the bottom edge of the pan. Can you slide it between any part of the bottom of the pan and the flat surface to any extent in any area at all? If you can, you can make an argument that the entire bottom of the pan does not “sit flat,” because there is that minuscule space between the bottom of the pan and the flat surface.

Ask yourself: Do you do some type of precision cooking that requires no movement whatsoever and a perfectly flat and level pan? If so, what kind of cooking is that? Do you even have a pan like that? If you think a pan must have no movement whatsoever, why do you think that? Is it because that’s what someone told you, or because you have personal experience with the issue? I bet it’s the former.

Even if your pan sits flat on the outer edges, how do you know there isn’t an ever-so-slight bowing upward in the middle of the pan? Of course you could take a level and examine it from all aspects, but isn’t that just a bit … as they say … “precious?” I had a person ask me to drop a teaspoon of oil in the middle of a pan and tell him whether the oil stayed in the center or whether it moved at all toward the outer edge of the pan. The oil spread ever so slightly. He nixed that pan. I wondered what kind of cooking he did that required that a teaspoon of oil not spread at all from the center of the pan.

Check your non-cast iron pans. Do they each sit absolutely perfectly flat? I bet some of your larger ones don’t. I have a Revere Ware saucepan that I use that rocks when liquid within it is boiling. Do I still use that pan? You bet. Would I prefer it didn’t rock when a liquid inside of it was heated to boiling? Yes. Does it matter? No.

I recently bought a number 14 Griswold Iron Mountain pan for my personal collection. As I purchased it based on photos and description alone, I asked the seller about the amount of movement of the pan when pressing along the upper edge. As noted, it is not at all uncommon for those larger pans, in particular, to have a bit of movement. The seller told me that when he folded a piece of cardstock in half and slipped it between the pan bottom and flat top while pressing on the opposite side, the pan sat flat. That worked for me – a movement that  insignificant is not going to make one bit of difference in my cooking. I have called that a “dime’s worth” in some of my listings. What that means is that if I slip a dime beneath the area of the pan that moves when I press on the opposite side of the rim, the dime stops the movement. To me, that just doesn’t matter. A “nickel’s worth” means a nickel stops the movement. Does that matter? It depends. It depends on the size of the pan (a small pan with a nickel’s worth of movement will likely rock – a large one will not) and my cooktop and how I use the pan.

My personal chef’s skillet rocks, but it also rocks as great omelette pan.

This is a beautiful Griswold Iron Mountain #8 pan with heat ring; it has just the slightest of movement. Would it bother you? I wouldn’t think so.

Give this some thought. Think about what you need for your planned usage of a pan. Can it tolerate a slight bit of movement? I bet it can. Can it tolerate a dime’s worth? Probably. A nickel? Depends.

Think about it.

Written by Mary!


Updated: Mary made a short vid that you may find helpful in dealing with this issue when you are trying to select a skillet that is just perfect for your needs. You can find it here.  Note – that particular pan has sold.


Nick's Panna Cotta in Griswold heart patty molds.Happy Almost-Valentine’s Day!

My dear friend Mary and her son Nick came up with some creative ideas for using Griswold heart patty molds for Valentine’s Day. Mary figured that chocolate was a necessity for Valentine’s Day, so they made double-chocolate soufflés, using a recipe from Food & Wine. Don’t they look beautiful?

Double Chocolate Soufflé in Griswold #2 Heart Patty Molds.

Nick also created a pan cotta with rosewater syrup and cardamom, topped with pistachio praline. He tinkered a bit with the recipe but there is one similar here. Showstopper!

Nick’s Cardamom, Rose Syrup, and Pistachio Praline Panna Cotta, made and served in Griswold #2 Heart Patty Molds.


Have a Question?

Toni M from New Jersey wrote in to Ask The Pan Handler and said:

“Hello! Just trying to find out some information about this cast iron piece I have. I can’t seem to find anything about a Favorite pioua ware with the number/letter 8e. Any info would be great. How old and possibly where it was made? It’s not in the best of shape and also would like to know if it can be salvaged for use or how much to sell it for. Thank you for your time!”

Toni sent two photos of her pan:

Toni’s skillet, view of bottom

Toni’s skillet, view of cooking surface

Hi Toni. I am surprised that your research didn’t disclose the answer to your question about the age of this skillet and the location of the manufacturer. I am not sure why, but perhaps it is because you refer to it as a Favorite pioua ware instead of the actual marking on the bottom of the pan, which is Favorite Piqua Ware. If you take a look at my shop, under manufacturers, you will find an entire section of the shop that has Favorite Piqua Ware pieces.

Your pan was manufactured by the Favorite Stove and Range Company in Piqua, Ohio, between about 1916 and 1934. It is a size 8 “smiley logo” cast iron skillet with heat ring. The letter E following the size 8 is simply a reflection of the particular pattern that was used to create this pan – you can see more detail about the numbers and lettering in an earlier post I wrote, here.

As the Ask The Pan Handler contact form states, I do not provide valuation services. That is highly subjective, and something you need to determine on your own. If you want to let the market determine the value, you can always put it on eBay and see what bidders are willing to pay for it. Obviously, the value is greatly diminished in the condition the pan is presently; for top dollar you will want to get it cleaned up and seasoned. You will then need to take detailed photographs from all perspectives in good lighting and accurately and thoroughly describe the pan in a listing, including noting any defects. It is not a quick process, by any means.

As to whether the pan is salvageable, of course it is! At least, give it a try, or give it to someone who wants to salvage it and put it to good use. The pan undoubtedly has lots of life left in it – you just need to get it cleaned up. You can see various cleaning methods in my FAQs section – click on FAQs in the footer at the bottom of the page, then scroll to the bottom and review the section on cleaning vintage cast iron.

Thanks for your question – once you get your skillet cleaned up, send in a photo!