**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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And, we have a winner! Oh wait, we have TWO!

Thank you so much, all, for your wonderful and thoughtful entries. I really enjoyed reading all of them, and it was very hard to choose my favorite(s)!

There are two entries that really stood out to me, and so I am gifting two skillets to two people.

Who are they, you ask?

Kisa R. from Reedly California and Imelda H. from Oakland California. Two ladies from California, where it is probably warm and sunny (as opposed to here in Minnesota, where it is bitterly cold and snowy).

Here are the winning entries:

Kisa R:

1. How does cast iron represent “family” to you?

“Grandma Georgia Jean and Grandma Gertrude; Yes, those were their real names and I am sure you have accurately imagined them in your mind as plump women in floral dresses with complementary cotton aprons. They spent many days cooking for us grandkids on their sleek black pans of pleasure also known as cast iron pans. Not pancakes, but hotcakes, not chicken nuggest, but fried chicken (with the skin on!), not hamburgers but chicken fried steak. Yummy foods of the past, that required time, preparation, love, not microwaves. Memories flood my mind as I think of all the ways they drew us together as a family through the food they prepared. When their time ended, the pan came to Mom, to continue its journey in our family.

Mom went to college and studied cooking, even got her degree in home economics, so the simple black pans never sat on the shelf. They became her chief tool in the kitchen to teach us kids how to sear a steak with a hot skillet or to simply fry hamburger for strogonoff to feed our growing family of 4 kids. It never went in the cupboard, it was too useful for that. Simply wash it quick, while it was hot, and get it back on the stove. It was like the kitchen sentry, always ready for duty. Then the day came for the skillet to travel to the next generation.

Today it sizzles olive oil instead of lard, creates Swedish pancakes instead of hotcakes, and stir fry’s far more veggies than in years past. Times change, uses change, and we change as people, but the pan remains in our kitchen, serving us, drawing us together, teaching us that age does not mean “put me away”. Sit proudly cast iron pan, for you will not see the insides of our cupboards.

2. Tell me…Why do you want to win this pan?

I would be so thrilled to get this pan!! I don’t have any of the old pans I wrote about. They all went to my brother (who uses and cherishes them!). So it would be a real treat to add a ‘new’ old pan. :)”

Kisa sent me a photo of her and a friend cooking on Christmas day 2014 in their “grandma” aprons – here it is. I love it!

Imelda H:

“1. How Will This Cast Iron Skillet Represent Family?

I am a mother of eight and a grandmother of twelve, soon to be thirteen, and a great grandmother to one. I grew up in a large family, but my mother and father were separated when I was a child. I remember my father cooking eggs and beans for me for breakfast in a cast iron skillet, and warming tortillas in them. He eventually moved back to Mexico and I lost contact with him until a nephew of mine located him through social networking last year. Although I had lost contact with my father at the age of 5 years old, at 55 when I found him, it was like we never missed a day, all of the love, compassion, and warm hearted feelings I had for him as a child had never left, for 50 years he had been in the back of my mind. By then he was 92 years old and suffering from dementia, but when my sister said she told him I had found him and showed him pictures of me his face lit up! My father sadly passed away a short time after, but my new found family in Mexico (brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces nephews) continue to be a blessing and although there is a language barrier we stay in contact using the translations on social networking.

To me family is the unspoken connection, and unconditional love and regard we all have for each other, that surpasses all time, distance and all barriers, it is virtually indestructible and full of memories, just like a cast iron skillet. It is the sacrifices we unquestionably and quietly make for one another, with no need for acknowledgment, or praise. For some eight children may seem impossible to manage and care for, but in my eyes eight children are boundless hugs, kisses, and love. You never forget the first Chirstmas, Mother’s day or Birthday card your child made and colored for you. I got to experience that from the little hands and hearts of my eight children and their children. My oldest child is 40 and my youngest is 22 and every year without fail I gather my family together and make a homemade meal and bake a home made cake for each of my children’s birthdays. They think it is silly but it is my of keeping us all connected. My children will never be too old to be my babies! I have a few older cast iron skillets that I have used for over 20 years to prepare healthy meals for my family. Every time I prepared a meal my father made in his cast iron pans I think of him. I gifted one to my son when he moved out and started his family.

2. Why Do You Want to Win the Skillet?

My first grandchild will be leaving for college next fall and I would like to gift her the skillet. It will give her a sense of family and home while she is thousands of miles away in New York or Hawaii. She loves to cook scrambled eggs, and this will be the perfect size for her to make them as well as healthy home cooked personal sized meals while she is away at school. She will also have an extension of family in this pan, as she goes through college, graduates, and someday has a family of her own to use it to prepare meals for. I hope that every time she cooks with this little pan she will think of her family and although she is thousands of miles way at school, will feel a connection with us. I will also feel good knowing that this little pan helped her to healthily fill her belly and remember her family back home.”

Ladies, congratulations and thank you so much for the time and effort you took to make such thoughtful and heartfelt entries. I will have two #6 skillets on their way this weekend! Please do remember to take a photo of the pan in action, and tell me about how it is being used, so that I can update this post.

Happy 2015, all!


I have an amazing and true story to tell you.

My sister and only sibling, Gail, read the article about The Pan Handler in Taste of the South. After, she talked to me about our late dad, and the mention of his auction-loving antics in the article. The article in Taste of the South mentioned that I don’t have family heirloom pans, but my dad loved actions and so the auction-hunting gene must run in the family.

My late dad holding my sister, Gail Sidney.Not only do I wish I had my great-grandma’s pan, I wish I had this awesome MCM sofa!


Gail told me that my late Grandpa – my dad’s dad – was named after a pan. Grandpa’s name was Sidney.

Long ago, Grandpa told Gail that his mom – my great-grandma – had 18 children and she was out of names. So she looked at the bottom of her favorite pan, and it said “Sidney O.” And so grandpa was named Sidney.

And just like Grandpa’s name, my sister has the middle name Sidney.

My Grandpa was born in 1899. I don’t know if my great-grandma had a Sidney Hollow Ware pan, or a Wagner “Sidney” pan, but she had a Sidney. And I have a Sidney. And my sister is a Sidney.

Vintage cast iron is in my blood and in my family.

Amazing. How about that!

Article from Jan/Feb 2015 "Taste of the South" Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

Pretty cool, eh? Though I do admit it is very freaky to see my face in a magazine.

One correction – I think that the most “scarce” piece I have ever come across is a #20 Griswold (tin) skillet lid. I (co-)owned it for less than 5 minutes, but it was mine for one brief shining moment. 🙂

That is my much-loved Griswold Iron Mountain chicken pan that I am holding along with one of our fabulous panhandlers – made by Annamarie. If you don’t have either a chicken pan or a panhandler, you need one!

Happy holidays, all.

Much appreciation, Mary

Article from Jan/Feb 2015 “Taste of the South” Magazine. Reprinted with permission.

Article from Jan/Feb 2015 “Taste of the South” magazine. Reprinted with permission.


Here is another one of the dishes that we made during our cast iron cooking extravaganza. This made a gorgeous presentation, and it was insanely tasty. Thanks to Bonnie for putting it together!

We roasted the veggies in a #12 Griswold skillet, and used a #8 Griswold skillet for the tomatoes. It was just perfect!

Recipe adapted from Epicurious, August 2013.

Winter Roasted Root Vegetables with Maple-Mustard Vinaigrette. Serves 8.

8 medium parsnips, peeled 8 medium carrots, peeled 4 medium onions, peeled and wedged. Bonnie used a mixture of yellow and red onion. 2 yellow peppers 2 heads garlic, halved 1/2 c plus 4 T olive oil 8 sprigs fresh thyme 4 sprigs fresh rosemary Fresh dill, to taste 4 bay leaves salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 40 cherry tomatoes, halved 4 T fresh lemon juice 4 T capers, roughly chopped 1 T maple syrup (we used homemade maple syrup from our cast iron friend, Gary S. Thank you, Gary!) 1 t Dijon mustard (we tried using a different mustard and it didn’t taste ‘right’ – you need to use Dijon). You can also add thickly sliced zucchini, quartered fennel, brussel sprouts, patty pan squash..you are really limited only by your imagination and taste buds!


Preheat oven to 350° Peel parsnips and carrots. You want them to be about the same size so that they cook at the same rate; cut lengthwise in halves or quarters as needed.  Clean and slice yellow peppers. In a large bowl, toss the parsnips, carrots, yellow peppers, onions, and garlic with 1/2 c. olive oil, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Spread in a large cast iron pan (we used a #14). Place in oven and roast for about an hour, turning once or twice. You want some nice brown edges on the vegetables. Meanwhile, heat your #8 skillet. Add 2 T olive oil. Add the tomatoes, cut side down, and caramelize (not more than 10 minutes). Sauté in batches, if needed.  Whisk together remaining 2 T olive oil, lemon juice, capers, maple syrup, and mustard. Pour dressing over the roasted veggies and top with carmelized tomatoes. 

We served the veggies right from the pan (which we placed on a wooden cutting board – after the pan had cooled a bit, of course). It made for a gorgeous presentation! And the veggies were some of the best I have ever had.

You need to give these a try! 



***Holy Smokes! I just learned that the “contact” form on the original post did not work! Yikes! If you have already entered, please re-submit your entry. You will have to email your entry directly to mary@thepan-handler.com

Please read below for the complete information. To enter, please submit the following information:

1. Your full name and email address (if you win, you would be identified by first name and last initial)

2. Your full address (I will use the address only for the contest; we never sell or spam)

3. Tell me…How does cast iron represent “family” to you?

4. Tell me…Why do you want to win this pan?

That’s it, really! 


I am blessed, and I am grateful.

Thank you to all of you who are part of my cast iron family. Special thanks to you, my customers and readers. Thank you to my dear friends who are enthused about the business and who listen endlessly and provide support, especially Linda and Annamarie, Sarah (of the excellent S.Lamb Photography), and Bonnie and Doug. Thank you to the experts and collectors who provide insight and help me with my research queries; especially Randy and Mike and proud members of the Wagner and Griswold Society and the Griswold & Cast Iron Cookware Association. Thank you to those of you who have provided me the raw product – collectors, pickers, auction houses, antiquing friends, cast iron enthusiasts, and many others. Thanks to Gary for providing product, helping me with my electrolysis setup, letting me try his maple syrup, and for just generally being a good and thoughtful guy. And to Drew for always keeping me in mind.

I believe in paying it forward.

Here is an opportunity to have a little something from The Pan Handler, for FREE. No catch. You just need to enter this little giveaway. The “winner” will receive a lovely Griswold #6 small logo skillet, shipped to their home free of charge after the new year.

Here is what I want to know.

What is “family” to you? Is it your blood relatives? Is it your work crew that gets together for holiday potlucks? Your little sister or brother? Your grandparents and their grandparents and relatives long gone? Is it the group of people that you feed at the soup kitchen? Your pets? Neighbors? Your army crew? Your best friends or football buddies? Your global family?

“Family” is what it means to you.

To enter into the contest, I’d like you to tell me how this pan will represent family. As noted above, how you define “family” is up to you. I would also like to know why you want to win this skillet. Heartwarming is always good, as is thoughtfulness and creativity.


(1) You yourself will use the pan or will gift it for free (i.e. not for resale).

(2) You enter the contest following the contact form below.

(3) You live in the lower 48 US States or are on active duty receiving mail via AFO/FPO/DPO (if you are outside these areas, you agree to pay any shipping cost over $15); and

(4) You agree to permit me to reprint your contest entry on my webpage with your first name and last initial, send me photos of the pan in use if you win, and allow me to tell your story and post your photos on the web.

That’s it. Really.

To enter, completely fill out the entry form below and submit it. If you need more space or want to send attachments, you can email me at mary@thepan-handler.com

Dear personal friends and family, I love you and you aren’t eligible to win. You can still send me an entry, though! 🙂

On New Year’s Day 2015 I’ll read all the emails, and pick the one I like best. I’ll post the name of the “winner” here (first name and initial, and state / location), along with the winning entry. I’ll then send the pan off to the winner at my expense. Once you get the piece, you’ll send me photos that you will permit me to put in this post of the pan in action.

About the pan:

The pan that I am offering is a vintage Griswold #6 grooved handle skillet. It was manufactured by the Griswold Manufacturing Company in Erie, PA. between 1939 and 1944. It is a great versatile smaller size – I use my smaller Griswold to scramble my eggs in the morning, to roast nuts, cook a burger or chicken breast, to fry bacon bits.

The pan measures 13-1/2″ to the end of the handle. It is 9″ in diameter and 2″ tall. It is marked on the bottom NO. 6, the Griswold small logo, ERIE PA. and the p/n, 699. The pan does have some movement when you press along the upper rim, but it will be a fine cooker. Right now the pan has just the one layer of seasoning which I applied after cleaning; it needs more seasoning built up before it will be virtually non-stick and you will see that beautiful satin surface that you like to see on your vintage pans. 

The pan is clean as a whistle and has been heat-seasoned with one coat of Crisco vegetable shortening. It is absolutely ready for use and display!