**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. :)
I usually don’t blog about our products, but I am just so excited about these racks that I really want to spread the word.
I got to thinking a while back that it would be a good thing to have racks made so that people can have their collectible pans out and displayed, without taking up all of the counter space. I know people sometimes keep their iron on their stoves, in the stove drawer, on the wall, in the dining room, in a cupboard, etc. I searched around and could not find any racks similar to what I had in mind. A few months back I was lucky enough to find a US manufacturer to make custom wire skillet racks to my specifications. We have spent many months on this project and have made many revisions.
I am very happy to tell you that we are now offering different sizes of racks to fit some common sizes of skillets. I know that not everyone has a full set of skillets, so I thought it wise to make them in different sizes to fit the different needs that people have. If you have wonderful collectible pans, it’s nice to show them off! It is also nice to have your pans handy when you need them.
Our racks are high-quality and sturdy. They are made in the United States. Each rack has four feet covered with rubber bumpers. Each is powder-coated matte black.
We currently offer custom racks to fit sizes 6 and 8 skillets, another to fit sizes 6, 8, and 10, and a third to fit sizes 3, 6, and 8. As you can see in the photos in the listings for these wonderful racks, many other size skillets will also fit into the racks. While each rack was made to our specifications to fit the particular sizes, more sizes of pans will fit; not just the sizes designated.
At this moment we also are offering a 7-slot skillet rack.
When these are gone, however, they are gone. We will not be getting more of these in stock. We are also currently offering griddle racks on a “see how it goes” basis – seeing first how high the demand is before we dive into full-scale production.
We have only had the racks listed for about a week. So far, sales are very brisk. We are watching and keeping track and taking requests. If we have enough requests for a particular rack, we will consider adding it to our inventory production. If the skillet racks we have will not work for your needs, contact us and let us know what you are looking for. With enough requests, we will look into creating other variations.
In the very near future – hopefully just a few weeks – we will be offering 8-slot racks, to fit sizes 3 – 10 (and more!). We have been working hard on the prototype for this particular rack, and now have one that I am very pleased with. I wanted to give you a sneak peek, because I am that excited about them! Here are a few pics. Griswold small logo skillets are pictured. Size 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.
The other night I made a nice small steak and served it with a Caesar salad. I love Caesar salad (who doesn’t?) but I didn’t want the extra calories that the dressing brings, so I decided to try Chef Jamie Oliver’s light dressing, which is made with low- or non-fat Greek yogurt.
The steak was made in my Griswold #8 cast iron skillet, and cooked in the stove. Usually I make my steak on the cooktop or on the grill, so this was a bit of an experiment for me. Based on a recipe I found on the web, I made a nice dry rub with coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, with a bit of brown sugar to caramelize the crust of the steak.
The meal was yum. The steak had an explosion of pepper, with a lingering hint of sweetness from the brown sugar.
Note: For the small steaks I used in this recipe, it would have been better to have cooked about 5 minutes per side instead of the 7 minutes. With 1-1/2” steaks, however, 7 minutes should be just about right to give you a medium to medium-rare steak.
Prep time: About 10 minutes. Cook time: 14 minutes.
Salad1 head romaine lettuce, rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces 1/3 c. low or non-fat Greek yogurt 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 T fresh lemon juice 2 t Worcestershire sauce ~1/2 t anchovy paste 2T extra virgin olive oil ¼ c shaved Parmesan cheese, divided salt and freshly-ground pepperSteak
Cooking spray 1T brown sugar ½ t salt ½ t ground cumin ½ t ground coriander ¼ t ground cayenne pepper about 2/3 lb sirloin steak, about 1-1/2” thick.
DirectionsMake the dry rub for the steak: mix together brown sugar, salt, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Rub the spices onto both sides of the steak. Let rest. Make the dressing for the salad: stir together yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and anchovy paste. Drizzle in olive oil, and whisk. Add half of the Parmesan cheese; stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Note: You can make the dressing in advance if you wish – I typically do, and store it in the fridge in a small jar and then just give it a shake when I’m ready to dress the salad. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place cast iron skillet into oven (I used a number 8 Griswold). Let skillet heat about 5-10 minutes. Remove skillet from oven. Place steak into skillet and put back into oven. Cook for 7 minutes. While steak is cooking, toss salad. Plate salad. Add freshly ground pepper and Parmesan to top. Turn the steak over after 7 minutes. Cook an additional 7 minutes. Remove steak from oven. Let rest 5 minutes. Serve steak as you wish; I had two pieces so I plated each. You could also slice thinly on the diagonal and plate. I served alongside dinner rolls. A nice light supper!
**Note: if the photos are not showing up on your screen, please click on the title of the blog post. That will bring you to the full post where the photos are attached.**
I attended my first large cast iron auction in around 2011. A tall and lanky gentleman wearing denim overalls and a baseball cap was seated in the front row, bidding on and buying a lot of pieces. The auctioneer clearly knew him, and called him by name – Harold.
That same gentleman was seated in the front row, wearing overalls and a baseball cap, at the next cast iron auction I attended. Again, the auctioneer called him by name. Again, Harold bought a lot of the pieces that were offered.
This became a pattern. In fact, I am not sure if I have ever attended a large cast iron cookware auction in person where Harold was not seated in the front row, wearing overalls and – usually – a baseball cap. Harold is a strong bidder. If Harold wants a piece of iron, Harold will get that piece of iron. There is no outbidding Harold. It is only at recent auctions where Harold might look around, notice with a small smile that I am bidding on a piece, and let me buy it. And even though I think Harold likes me just fine, he doesn’t let me get the piece if he really wants it. If he really wants it, he will buy it.
Harold is well-known in the cast iron collecting community. It’s not a particularly large community, and many know or know of the others. I think Harold knows just about every one of us. He is gentlemanly, gracious, and hospitable. Before I had even met him, he invited me – through another collector – to stop at his farm in Hamilton, Missouri to see his cast iron collection. After I met Harold, he told me he’d be “tickled” if I were to stop out. And so Linda and I did, on a beautiful fall morning in October 2015.
Harold starting collecting cast iron over 50 years ago. His mother and grandmother Henry always cooked in cast iron – fried chicken, bacon, breads – it is part of Harold’s heritage. He doesn’t remember what he first acquired, because he has always had iron. Harold has his family’s cast iron cookware. Harold believes that every piece of cast iron is a piece of art. “Finely crafted and like no other. Every piece is a piece to use, but it is art.” Harold respects, is intrigued by, and admires the crafting of each unique piece of vintage cast iron that he owns.
Harold started buying cast iron cookware at farm sales; deep fish fryers and skillets, and whatever else caught his fancy. He didn’t learn to cook with it until he was about 70 years old, however; he was busy with his family, work, and farm.
Harold owns a farm with about 1300 acres just outside of Hamilton Missouri. James Cash Penney, the founder of J.C. Penney stores, previously farmed much of the land. Harold started working with “Mr. Penney” (as Harold still calls him) when Harold was 11. Harold worked at Mr. Penney’s store in Hamilton, stoking the furnace, putting together toys, and sweeping floors. When Mr. Penney came to town every month or so, he began having Harold come to his farm to help him clean up destruction caused by the many bulls that Mr. Penney had at the farm. Harold and Mr. Penney became very close and remained so until Mr. Penney’s death at age 95. Harold still has the last letter that Mr. Penney wrote to him.
Harold retired from auctioneering registered (purebred) cattle sales about 15 years ago, when he was 65. That work took him around the United States and Western Canada. For many years Harold also showed prize cattle across the United States, and held cattle sales at the farm.
The large headstone of one of Mr. Penny’s champion bulls – “Eileenmere 487, The Wonder Bull” – is still on Harold’s property. People came to the farm from all over the United States to purchase cattle that were sired by that bull. Each bull had its own small barn on the property; the barns still stand today. Harold continues to raise cattle and work the farm, with the assistance of his grandson, Will.
When Linda and I arrived at the Henry farm, we rang the big iron bell outside to announce our arrival. Harold greeted us and showed us his iron throughout the house and outbuildings. What a collection he has! We saw iron in Harold’s kitchen, foyer, hallway, dining room, living room, bedroom, basement, family room, garage, outbuildings, barns, and in rooms in one of the barns. Most of the pieces were carefully cleaned and stacked on shelves for display. Some pieces were awaiting cleaning, and some had sat in the same space for many years. Harold is justifiably proud of his collection and it was a treat to see it.
We started with the pieces that Harold commonly uses – two tall shelving units full of iron, just adjacent to his kitchen. Harold’s favorite user is a #10 3-notch Lodge cast iron skillet. He also loves to cook chili and soups in his #9 cast iron Dutch ovens, and he had several on the shelves. Another piece on the shelf is his grandmother Henry’s #9 Wagner “Long Life” skillet, which Harold laments that he “ruined” by heating on a stovetop burner that was too small for the pan. Harold said he learned the hard way that the stovetop burner needs to be at least as large as the bottom of the pan. If not, Harold says that the pan will unevenly heat and bulge where heated and when it cools, it may remain bulged, and then you will have a pan that spins. He showed us a light round mark which was surrounded by a dark area on the inside of one of his #9 Dutch ovens, which remains because Harold had used the oven to cook on a burner that was too small for the piece.
Harold had laid his collection of #0 skillets out on the dining room table for us to see. Harold was surprised to learn that he had around 68 of them; they had been stacked downstairs on a shelf where he did not always see them. He had also purchased two toy teapots the previous day at the auction we had attended – a Griswold “ERIE” teapot and a G.F. Filley teapot. He was charmed by them and told us they were the first toy teapots he had purchased. Which is actually saying a lot, given that Harold has over 4,000 pieces. When I asked Harold if he kept an inventory, he smiled and tapped his temple.
Harold has shelves and racks in his living room that are stacked with many pieces of Lodge cast iron cookware. He admires the Lodge Manufacturing Company, and believes that they make the best cast iron pieces of modern-day cookware. Lodge has been in business since 1896, and generations of family members have been at the helm. Harold appreciates the “survival instinct” of the company. Harold has toured the Lodge factory (a tough ticket to get – I have tried!) and has seen how they make their iron. Harold was headed to a family birthday party later in the afternoon, and he was bringing his 5-year-old great-grandson Carter a new little Lodge #5 skillet with lid.
In Harold’s bedroom, he has shelving units filled with his collection of Mi-Pet, Favorite, Ozark, Martin, and some Sperry cast iron cookware. Harold took care to show us how to differentiate between a Mi-Pet and Ozark skillet lid.
Harold keeps a large portion of his collection in his basement family room. Oh, my, the Griswold! The pool table is covered with Griswold Dutch ovens, including the coveted #11 and #13 – both with trivets, of course. Shelves full to the brim line much of the family room. Harold’s favorite vintage pieces – his Griswold #14 bailed skillet with lid, and Griswold #13 skillet with lid – are kept here. He also has the Griswold small square fry skillets, the Griswold bicentennial George Washington lid, fruit/lard presses, the entire Iron Mountain collection, many gem and muffin pans, gobs of lids, Wagner Magnalite pieces, Griswold aluminum, and multiples of every Griswold size, logo, and handle imaginable. He displays beautiful red porcelain enameled Griswold pieces on his bar. His #2 skillets had been laid out on a table for us to admire, and Harold had an entire shelving unit filled with lovely chromed Griswold pieces.
The only Griswold piece that Harold does not have, that he wants, is the #1 ERIE skillet. Otherwise, he has what he wants. But he still continues to buy and to collect. When he sees a beautiful piece that can be used, he buys it.
In Harold’s garage, barn, and outbuildings, he stores yet more iron. He has more Lodge in the garage; some in its original box. Some pieces were hung on a Lodge rack; some sat on a large wooden table, and more was on shelves. I noticed that Harold had a few boxes of shelving units ready to assemble waiting in the garage, too. Despite what he might tell you, Harold is not done collecting.
In the barn, Harold has yet more iron. Some of the iron had clearly been undisturbed for years. Harold told me a story about a particular Griswold skillet that he had found out in one of the barns and brought inside to clean up; he figured that the skillet had been out there for 30 or 35 years.
Before we left, Harold took the time to drive us around his property. He pointed out to us the very spot where Mr. Penney’s childhood home had sat. We had the chance to see some of his cattle, a sweet calf, and goats came running to greet us.
Harold is a true gentleman, in every sense of the word. We very much appreciated the opportunity to visit him at his home, see the farm, and look at his vast cast iron collection. I am proud to call Harold my friend.
If you’re ever in Hamilton, Missouri, give Harold a call. He likes to show off his iron.
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION WITH HAROLD:How do you feel about using soap to clean your vintage cast iron? Harold’s mother and grandmother never spared the soap; in fact, they used lye soap to clean their iron. Harold uses soap when he wants to use soap. How do you clean the pans that you use to cook? Harold has a scrub brush that he likes to use. He also will use chain mail and stainless steel scrubbers and SOS pads if he wants to. Harold says that if the seasoning comes off, it wasn’t seasoned right. How do you season your pans? Harold is not picky. He uses oils that have a low smoke point. Harold has used lard, and points out that if you use lard to season, be sure the lard does not contain salt. How do you clean the vintage cast iron that you acquire? Elbow grease, and lye when necessary. Harold keeps his lye bath outside, in what used to be his dog kennel (the lye bath is in the black bucket). Can you use cast iron on a glass cooktop? Of course you can! Harold is baffled by the belief that some people hold, that you will scratch your glass cooktop if you cook with cast iron. Harold showed us his glass cooktop – nary a scratch. If you scratch your cooktop, Harold says it’s because the bottom of your pan was not smooth. Just be sure to cook on a burner at least as big as the bottom of your pan. What advice does Harold have for a new collector? “Get someone to help you buy a piece and learn how to use it.” Harold did not learn to cook in his cast iron until he was 70. Cooking advice? Make sure the skillet is hot before you put your food into it, but “don’t get it too damn hot.” How hot is too hot? “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to cook on an electric stove.” Do you have other collections? Harold laughs. He collects pocket knives and hunting knives that were made in the United States. How many does he have? “Quite a few,” he says with a chuckle.
Sarah Lamb, of S.Lamb photography, is a very talented photographer. She has taken many pictures for The Pan Handler LLC, and her work has been published in the magazine articles in which we have been featured.
I just wanted to share one of her recent shots, because I think it is so beautiful. This is a set of Griswold large block logo pans, 2-14.
Isn’t it pretty? Thank you so much, Sarah!
In September, my camping friends and I headed to beautiful Glendalough State Park in Northern Minnesota for a fall weekend of hiking, tent camping, friendship, campfires, fun, and food.
This group is big on food and cooking. We have huge delicious breakfasts created by Doug and cooked in his Griswold #20 cast iron hotel skillet. Saturday morning’s breakfast is often a hash with sausage and bacon and root vegetables. Sunday morning’s breakfast is always “leftover hash” in that skillet, using leftovers from the previous evening’s feast.
Our group has a big potluck for our Saturday evening meal. Regardless of how many people we have camping with us on a particular weekend, we have more food than the group could possible eat. And it is always fantastic!
On this particular camping trip, I got it into my head that I should try cooking in a cast iron camp oven, as I had one offered for sale on the site, but had never before tried cooking in one. I set my heart and taste buds on scalloped potatoes. I am not sure why that happened, as I had never made them before and rarely indulge in dishes that have of loads of butter and cheese, but scalloped potatoes it had to be.
Wow, were they good. Fussy preparation, but oh my so delicious. Compliments abounded.
How did you make them, you ask? Why, let me tell you all about it!
Yukon Gold Scalloped Potatoes with Caramelized Onions in a Griswold #10 Cast Iron Camp Oven
EQUIPMENT TO BRING CAMPINGMandoline (or a really sharp knife and cutting board, and the ability to thinly slice gobs of potatoes into slices of equal diameter – which I don’t have). Vegetable peeler Cast Iron Camp Stove w lid (I used a fabulous #10 Griswold camp oven) Charcoal briquettes (I brought, and used, an entire ~6 lb package of self-lighting briquettes) and lighter Big ol’ container into which to place the potatoes once sliced Grater and container to hold the grated cheese Whisk Pam spray vegetable or canola oil A container into which to place the hot roux/milk mixture Aluminum foil (optional) Cooler with ice (obviously…) Long handled tongs Long handled serving spoon Long handled lid lifter
INGREDIENTS2 large yellow onions 4T butter About 1 c chicken (or vegetable) stock 6 – 7 medium Yukon Gold potatoes 3T butter 3T flour ~1½ cups milk or heavy cream (I used 2% milk and ended up needing about 2 cups) 5 oz block of Gruyere cheese 2 cloves garlic 5-6 sprigs of fresh thyme from your garden (or a neighbor’s garden, or if desperate – dried) Big handful of parsley from your garden Salt and pepper to taste
The day before camping:Cut the onions in ~¼” slices. Melt 4T butter in a large heavy cast iron skillet (I used my “new” old Griswold Iron Mountain #12 skillet. Caramelize the onions. Take your time! Here are some common mistakes when caramelizing onions, per Bon Appetit. Deglaze the pan with the cup of chicken stock, stirring until the stock is absorbed into the onions. Cool, place in zip lock plastic bag, and refrigerate overnight. Clean, dry, and chop the parsley. Clean and remove leaves from thyme sprigs. Peel and mince garlic cloves. Place all in a small zip lock bag and refrigerate. (I am lazy; I actually just put the sprigs and leaves in the mix and then removed the stems after cooking). Pack your car and cooler with the insane amount of equipment you need to make these delicious potatoes.
Directions for day of:Place about 2/3 of the briquettes in a fire ring and light. Peel and slice the potatoes paper-thin. I used my mandoline. Grate the Gruyere cheese into a container. Spray the camp oven with Pam. Make a roux with the butter and flour: Slowly melt 3T butter in the camp oven over an open fire. Add the flour a bit at a time; whisking to avoid lumps. Slowly add the milk to the roux, whisking constantly. Stir in thyme leaves, parsley, and garlic. Remove the mixture from the oven and set aside. Arrange a layer of overlapping sliced potatoes on the bottom of the oven. Sprinkle a layer of the caramelized onions over; followed by a layer of cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Continuing layering the overlapping potatoes, onions, and cheese; ending with cheese (I had 3 or 4 layers of potatoes). Lightly salt and pepper each layer. Pour milk mixture over. I put aluminum over the top of the oven and then placed the lid on top because of my concern about ashes falling into the potatoes. It was not necessary; it was easy for me to keep the ashes out of the potatoes. Using long-handled tongs, take about “ready” (ashen-colored) briquettes and place on a fire-safe surface. I cleared a spot on dirt. Place the camp oven with lid over the briquettes. Place “ready” briquettes on top of the lid. **The goal is to try to get to 400 degrees and to cook for about an hour. There are many charts on the web about the proper number of briquettes to use; you can find one here. As you can see, I used plenty. Basically, I aimed for about 1/3 beneath the oven and 2/3 on top. Using the lid lifter, rotate the lid 45 degrees every 15 minutes or so to avoid hot spots. Also use the lifter to rotate the entire oven 45 degrees about every 15 minutes. Once done (mine cooked for about 90 minutes and a more experienced camp cooker who viewed my briquette set up opined that I was cooking at about 500 degrees – oops but hey it worked!) remove the camp oven to a serving area. Scoop up the potatoes and enjoy, and savor the compliments. I had my potatoes alongside a delicious rib-eye steak, which I prepared in Doug’s trusty #20 Griswold hotel skillet.
I was one very happy camper. 🙂