**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. :)

Page 14

Have a Question?

Richard T. from Pennsylvania wrote to Ask The Pan Handler and said:

“My 1278 C #8 Dutch oven arrived today. The 1288B lid that came with it seems to have a porcelain coating underneath. Would it be OK to throw it into the electrolysis tank to clean it up? Both have a little rust and crud that I’d like to clean up. Second question, is: Did this lid and pan combo originally sell together? They fit nicely enough. Thanks.”

Hello, Richard. Thank you for your questions.

The Griswold pattern number 1278 correlates to a Griswold number 8 Tite-Top Dutch oven, and the pattern number 1288 refers to a cover for a Griswold number 8 Dutch oven. So yes, the two may have been sold together. Here is a scan from a 1941 Griswold catalogue, which shows how the Griswold Dutch ovens and Tite-Top Basters were sold:

It sounds to me like you have the Griswold “Clean-Easy” finish on your Dutch oven lid. That is a porcelain finish that Griswold placed on the underside of at least some Dutch oven lids beginning in the 1930s.

I have cleaned many of these lids using different methods. The concern would be dulling or etching the finish of that clean-easy coating, or otherwise impacting the coating. Unfortunately, I have searched for a definitive answer about cleaning that lid with no success. Readers, if you know the answer to Richard’s question, would you please email me and tell me? If do get a definitive answer, I will update this blog post.

You might try floating your lid upside down in a vinegar bath to remove the rust on the top of the lid. Whatever method you choose to use, I’d appreciate a before and after photo, so you can show us whether your cleaning process was successful!

RibeyeBlueApron9

I mentioned that I have been trying Blue Apron for a few months; I have really been enjoying it (and no, I am not a paid spokesperson but I am starting to think I should be!)

For New Year’s Eve, I made their simply delicious ribeye steak with mushroom potato hash. It was fabulous! I am especially a fan of the potato hash. The rosemary really kicked it up a notch; I could have eaten the entire pan of potatoes.

Blue Apron keeps recommending non-stick skillets for some reason; I keep adapting the recipes to use my cast iron pans.

Here’s how I made it; the recipe is only slightly adapted from the Blue Apron version.

Ribeye Steak with Mushroom Potato Hash

 Makes 2 large servings, or 3-4 moderately-sized servings (my dinner companion and I each ate 1/4 of the meal and that was plenty, and left us some fabulous leftovers for the next day) About 700 calories per serving. Prep Time: 10 min | Cook Time: 30 to 40 min

Ingredients

1 thick-cut ribeye steak 3 oz oyster mushrooms (you may use any mushroom you choose, of course) 2 oz cremini mushrooms 3?4 lb. russet potato (1 large) 1 bunch rosemary 1 shallot

Shallot, mushrooms, and rosemary prepped and ready to go!

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Remove steak from refrigerator, pat dry, and salt and pepper both sides. Set aside.

Wash and dry the fresh produce. Medium dice the potato. Cut the cremini and oyster mushrooms (or other mushrooms of your choice) into bite-sized pieces. Peel and thinly slice the shallot. Pick the rosemary leaves off the stems; discard the stems and finely chop the leaves. Place the chopped potato on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper; toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange in a single, even layer and roast, stirring halfway through, 24 to 26 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and set aside in a warm place. In a large pan (my handy-dandy wonderful ERIE 11 cracked cast iron skillet), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned steak. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium, or until browned and cooked to your desired degree of doneness. Transfer to a cutting board, leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan. Loosely cover the cooked steak with aluminum foil and set aside to rest for at least 5 minutes.

Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan of reserved fond; heat on medium until hot. Add the cremini and oyster mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 6 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Season with salt and pepper. Add the shallot, roasted potato and all but a pinch of the rosemary to the pan of mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and the shallot has softened. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thinly slice ribeye against the grain. Transfer to a serving plate with the potato hash. Garnish the potato with the remaining rosemary.

Savor and enjoy! We served alongside a wonderful cabernet; it was perfection.

…made in my cracked #11 ERIE cast iron skillet with heat ring, on my glass cooktop. That skillet is quickly becoming my new favorite pan.

This was a delicious, hearty, and healthful vegetarian meal. The lemon added at the end really added a nice finish.

Recipe slightly adapted from Blue Apron. I modified only to cut down on the butter and cheese, to save a bit on calories.

Beet & Barley Risotto w Swiss Chard & Goat Cheese

Serves 2.

Ingredients 2 T olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 3/4 c. pearled barley 3 c. water 2 green onions, thinly sliced 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1 red beet 1 lemon 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed & coarsely chopped 3 T vegetable demi-glace 2 T butter 1/2 c. crumbled goat cheese Directions Cover the beet with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 400 degree oven. Cook until fork tender; about 60 minutes. Remove from oven, plunge into ice-cold water, and remove skin by peeling it off with your hands. Chop beet on a cutting board you have covered with paper towels, so as to keep the beet from staining your cutting board. Use a zester to remove the yellow rind of the lemon. You want 2 t rind. You may also use a vegetable peeler to peel the lemon – avoiding the white pith which is bitter – then mince. Cut the lemon into quarters and remove the seeds. Heat 2 t olive oil over medium heat in a large cast iron skillet (I used my #11, and it worked great. I imagine any size from 8 on up would be just fine). Add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened and fragrant; about 3-4 minutes. Add the barley, chopped beet, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the barley is toasted and fragrant. Add the demi-glace and 3 c water to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to high. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 16-18 minutes until the barley and beet are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. You may add up to 1/4 c water if you wish, to achieve your desired consistency. Add the chopped chard and butter to the pot and again season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the chard has wilted. Remove from heat. Add the white parts of the sliced scallions, half of the goat cheese, and the juice of two of the lemon wedges to the pan. Stir until thoroughly combined. Divide the risotto between two dishes. Garnish with the green tops from the onions and the remaining goat cheese. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges; add lemon juice as desired.

After adding water and demi-glace; before liquid is absorbed.

I think this may have been the first time I cooked with Swiss chard.

Have a Question?

Anne L from Kentucky wrote in to Ask The Pan Handler, and said:

“I was just given this beautiful Griswold waffle iron (1920s?) that I would love to clean and restore to actually use but there are so many different ways to do that I wanted to ask for your opinion. It appears to be in great condition for as long as it sat in a basement. I have 5 skillets but as they were all in constant use for many years so I’ve only ever had to re-season and not have to deal with rust. Thank you so much! Anne”

Anne attached 3 photos of her Griswold waffle iron with base with wire bail handle.

Anne, you have a beautiful old size 8 block logo Griswold “American” cast iron waffle iron pattern number 151, with bailed base. While I can’t see the bottom of the base, I am guessing it is pattern number 152; that is the proper base for these paddles. The paddles have what are known as the Alaskan coil handles.

Anne’s waffle iron photo 1.

Anne’s waffle iron photo 2.

Anne’s waffle iron photo 3.

Happily, Anne’s old waffle iron does not appear to be in poor condition; it just has some rust on it that needs to be removed. Often when you run across old cast iron waffle irons, they also have layers of gunk and carbon built up on the cooking surface of the paddles; they can be a bear to clean.

“Woman cleaning waffle iron” circa 1920 – 1950. Photo from Library of Congress. The lady looks like she is enjoying the job; obviously this is is a posed photo. NO ONE (other than Linda) enjoys cleaning paddle irons that have baked on crud!

I do most of my cleaning of rust via electrolysis. For just one piece, however, you probably don’t want to go through the time and expense of setting up an electrolysis system. I have used Evapo-Rust to remove rust from cast iron, too. It’s not inexpensive, but it works. You can find Evapo-Rust at an auto parts store; just follow the instructions on the bottle.

Recently, however, I have again begun experimenting with the vinegar and water method to remove rust on some smaller pieces including waffle irons. It has been working very well for me, and I bet it would also work well to remove the rust from your waffle iron, Anne. You need to watch the vinegar process very closely, however; once the rust is removed from the piece the acid in the vinegar will start working on the cast iron, and pitting can result. So if you are going to try this method, do it on a day when you have time to frequently check in on the progress of the cleaning.

Here’s how I would suggest go about cleaning your set using the vinegar/water method:

Necessary Equipment

Plastic or other container large enough to contain your waffle iron and base. I used an inexpensive dish-washing tub. Gallon jug of white vinegar Stainless steel scrubbie. Something small enough to clean/scrub between the intricacies of the waffle paddle cooking surface. Linda, who dos most of our first-stage (lye) cleaning, loves to use a chopstick with a bit of no. 3 grade coarse steel wool wrapped around the bottom to really get into the nooks and crannies. A small brass or wire brush can also work – you can find them at our local hardware store or an auto parts store. I like to use these handy-dandy little wire brushes that I buy in bulk through Amazon.  They are the Allway SMB Stainless Mini Wire Brush. I like using the mini bristles at the top for getting into small nooks and crannies.

Allway brush

Gallon jug distilled white vinegar

Coarse steel wool

Dishwashing tub

3M Stainless steel scrubbie.

#0000 super-fine steel wool

Dawn Platinum Power Clean detergent

Paper towels or old rags you don’t mind getting really really dirty. Screwdriver (in some cases, to remove the Alaskan coil handles) Grade #0000 super-fine steel wool (optional – for fine cleaning of wire handles) Dishwashing soap. I like Dawn Platinum Power Clean detergent for cleaning my cast iron. Rubber gloves

Directions

Fill your container with an equal amount of vinegar and water (1:1 ratio). If possible, remove the handles from the waffle iron. If your Alaskan coil handles have a ring at the end, you can insert a screwdriver into the ring and gently twist to unscrew the pin attaching the wire coil to the waffle iron. Anne, in your case it appears that the coil is screwed directly onto the paddle of the waffle iron. In that case, grasp the end of the handle and firmly twist it counter-clockwise until it unscrews from the paddle. If you are unable to get it off, it could be rusted on in which case you can leave it on until the rust disintegrates to the extent necessary to remove the handle. It is not the end of the world if you can’t remove the wire handles. For those of you who have wood handles, you remove them either by gently wriggling them loose and / or by removing the small nail that holds them in place. Do not put wood handles into the vinegar solution! They must be removed before attempting this process.

Insert screwdriver into eye of pin and twist until pin is removed and handle is released.

Pin and handle pre-cleaning.

Direct screw-on Alaskan wire handle. Grasp handle and turn counter-clockwise to remove.

Close-up showing the “screw on” portion of the wire handle.

Place the paddles, base, and handles and screw pin (where present) into the vinegar solution. Set a time for 30 minutes. You should see the vinegar/water solution start to bubble as it does its work on the rust.

I wear rubber gloves during this step: After 30 minutes, remove the pieces from the solution and rinse them under cold water. Give them a light scrub with your stainless steel scrubbie. If the rust is still present, place the piece(s) again into the vinegar solution. Repeat as necessary until the rust is removed; checking every 30 minutes or so. If the handles had not previously been removed, remove them if possible once the rust loosens enough to permit removal. Once the rust is primarily removed from the paddles and base via the vinegar solution, use your chopstick and coarse steel wool and / or your brush to get into the nooks and crannies, using dish detergent, your brush, scrubbie, and elbow grease to scrub until all rust is removed and the iron is clean.

Pan Apprentice Linda working on the nooks and crannies of a waffle iron paddle using a chopstick and coarse steel wool.

Clean the wire handles and screw pin (if present) by using your small brush and the super-fine steel wool (if desired). Do the same for the wire bail handle on the base. Dry entire set very thoroughly using paper towels or a dish rag that you don’t mind throwing away.

Griswold no. 7 waffle iron post-rust removal; pre-seasoning.

Linda working on a waffle iron base with small brush as it comes out of vinegar solution.

Seasoning

Once your set is clean, you will need to season it, so as to protect the surface. There are a jillion different ways that people season their iron, and their waffle irons. With your set, Anne, here’s how I would do it:

Place the base and paddles (without handles) into the oven. Turn the heat to 450 degrees. Set a timer for an hour. After an hour, turn off the heat. Once the pieces have cooled enough to handle with mitts or potholders, remove from the oven. Grab your oil of choice – I use Crisco vegetable shortening – and rub a very light coat onto the base and paddles. Do not worry about covering every area of the cooking surface. Using paper towels or a rag, wipe all of the shortening off of the base and paddles. A film will still remain, but you should not see any oily areas. If you do not carefully remove all of the shortening in this step, you will have an uneven seasoning result which will work but will not be attractive. Place the pieces back into the oven. Turn the heat to 500 degrees. Set your timer for an hour. Some people place a baking pan or aluminum on the rack beneath the pieces, to collect any oil that drips from the pieces. I have not found that to be necessary, but if you are concerned about it by all means take this step. You will notice some smoke coming from the oven during this process, and there will be an odor. You will want to have your vent fan running. If you have too much oil on your pieces there will be a ton of smoke and you will need to open windows and doors and your family will complain (don’t ask how I know!) After an hour, turn off the oven. When the pieces are still warm but cool enough to handle using a potholder and / or mitts, remove them from the oven. Wipe another very thin layer of Crisco on the paddles and base. For waffle irons, I also use spray Pam to make sure I get into all of the nooks and crannies. Wipe the oil from all pieces using paper towels or a rag. With waffle irons, I typically put the paddles together with paper towels between, to absorb any excess oil. Replace the handles on the paddles.Voila! A clean waffle iron!Anne, I sure hope you will send me some “after” pictures of your beautiful set, so I can show readers how your work turns out! Now, get to cleaning!

Griswold #7 waffle iron pre-rust removal.

Griswold no. 7 waffle iron handle pre-rust removal.

Griswold no. 7 waffle iron paddle post-rust removal; pre-seasoning.

Griswold no. 7 waffle iron, post-rust removal and seasoning. Voila!

Keen Kutter waffle iron pre-rust removal.

Keen Kutter waffle iron post-rust removal and seasoning.

CollardGreens1

I have a wonderful antique number 11 Griswold “ERIE” pan that has a hairline crack near the handle. I have had this pan for about 5 months now, and it is quickly becoming my new favorite. I have been using it almost every day.

My “ERIE” (made by Griswold) antique cast iron pan no. 11

Look at that beautiful cooking surface!

Bottom markings of my ERIE no. 11 pan. Pattern number 716. Has a heat ring, as you can see. This is a “series 3” ERIE pan.

I bought this pan for a pretty penny at an antique store somewhere in the south, on my August 2015 road trip. I was very excited to see it – size 11 pans are not common, and an old “ERIE” size 11 even less so. This pan was made between 1892 and 1905 by the Griswold Mfg. Co. in Erie, PA. Oddly, the person who had consigned it to the shop had painted it with some kind of blue epoxy-type pebbly paint. I examined it as best I could given the paint job, and happily brought it home. I was excited to get this pan cleaned up and put back into use.

When I removed the paint in preparation for re-seasoning, I was sad to see that there was a hairline crack near the handle (thus answering my question “why in the world did this person paint this pan?”) I considered listing it on eBay, which is where I often sell “scratch and dent” pans. I knew that I would never get back the money and time that I had put into it, however, and it is such a pretty pan with a gorgeous cooking surface and thin walls. I kept admiring it, and….before you knew it, I had a new pan in rotation in my kitchen.

Hairline crack visible to side of handle. It extends about half-way down the side of the skillet.

Exterior of the pan showing the area of the hairline crack.

I love this pan! It is a nice big but not too huge size (12-1/2″ diameter), it is lightweight (for a big cast iron pan), and it makes great food.

Caramelized Onion Pizza in my no. 11 ERIE skillet.

I would like to dispel a few notions right here, right now.

False: Cast iron pans are indestructible. False: Pans with hairline cracks are useless. False: Pans with hairline cracks cannot hold liquid (“hairline” being the operative word here).

Some folks have this idea that cast iron pans are indestructible. They aren’t. Cast iron is brittle. Shipping cast iron pans requires careful packing. A cast iron pan may break or crack if dropped or banged about on a hard surface. More often than I’d like, I come into possession of pans that have hairline cracks. Sometimes the crack is hidden under layers of built up crud, sometimes it’s hidden under paint (yes – horrors – some people actually paint pans in an apparent attempt to disguise either a bunch of rust or a crack), sometimes it’s just one pan in a number of pans that I purchased in a lot. Other times, I come into possession of pans that someone had purchased cracked, or were shipped cracked. Sometimes I buy pans on the internet and they are not packed properly, and they crack. Once someone actually shipped a chicken pan to me in a brown paper bag. No other packing. I was astonished that it came through unscathed. But sometimes even when they ARE packed properly, they are banged about so terribly in transit that they crack or break. Cast iron pans do not require gingerly handling, but they do require attention and care.

Broken pan which I received in the mail. It was packaged only with a bit of bubble wrap.

I have used J-B Weld to repair handles that have broken off, and they can also be welded back on.

I read somewhere recently that a pan with a hairline crack is “useless.” No, they are not useless. A hairline crack certainly diminishes the value to a collector, but the pan often can still be put to use and be a great cooker. I use my #11 pan for all sorts of things. I make pizza in it, sear and reverse-sear big juicy steaks, brown and bake chicken (when I’m not using my chicken pan!), roast and sauté and stir-fry vegetables, make casseroles…all kinds of things. The pan does not leak and it cooks beautifully. The crack does not impair its function whatsoever. I suppose at some time, when it gets banged on something again, the crack might widen or deepen, but for now this is one great pan; I am glad to have it and I am glad to put it into good use!

Sautéed collard greens and onion.

Making a roux.

Beet and barley risotto with collard greens.

Spinach artichoke dip with dinner rolls in my #11 skillet.

Beef and pea pod stir-fry.

Beginning to brown a half-chicken.

Butternut squash rigatoni.

Ribeye steak.

So if you are looking for a great cooker, don’t automatically rule out any vintage cast iron pan with a hairline crack. You can often snatch up a bargain on these pans, and get yourself a wonderful cooking pan!