**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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I love camping, and I love cooking. And we all know I love cast iron cookware!

On a June 2016 camping trip – at Frontenac State Park – I brought along a Griswold no. 10 cast iron camp oven / chuckwagon, and made a tasty side dish for the twelve tent campers we had along.  Our group typically has a big pot luck supper on Saturday nights. Since we are all a group of “foodies,” it is fun to try something new and hope that the group will applaud.

You can see that the group is on pins and needles awaiting the taste test of the root gratin vegetable dish. We are a pretty high-strung group. 🙂 Anna and her husband, Rob, are in the middle of this photo.

Applaud, they did. With help from my friends, we made a wonderful root vegetable gratin. The recipe was adapted a bit from one I found somewhere on the wild, wild web.

Here’s how I did it!

Root Vegetable Gratin

Recipe said it serves 8; it served 12 with leftovers for the next morning’s breakfast hash.

Ingredients: 4 T unsalted butter, divided 1.5 c. Panko breadcrumbs 1.5 c. shredded parmesan 6 or so sprigs thyme, plus 1 T leaves Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 3 c. heavy cream (I used 2 c. heavy cream and 1 c. half and half) 1 c chicken broth 1.5 lb hunk of celery root, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick 1 lb hunk of rutabaga, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick 2 peeled sweet potatoes, sliced 1/16″ thick 1 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/16″ thick Pam vegetable oil spray hunk of parchment paper Day before preparation: Melt 2 T butter in size 8 cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs. Stir until golden brown; 5-7 minutes. Let cool. Mix cooled breadcrumbs with 1/2 c. parmesan and 1 T thyme leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Place in quart-sized zip-lock bag and set aside. Camp preparation: Peel the vegetables. Using a mandoline, slice into even 1/16″ slices. Place all slices in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss.

Even after all these years of life on this Earth, I cannot for the life of me pare a vegetable with a knife. Debra, however, is an expert and came to my rescue.

Debra and Jerry added their sweet potatoes to the recipe. They were a nice touch!

We left the holder for the vegetables at home – that little thing with prongs so that you don’t slice your fingers? Debra made do. What a champ!

Bring cream, broth, thyme sprigs, and remaining 2T butter to simmer in skillet or camp oven. Remove from heat. Discard thyme. Cover and keep warm. Take about 24 charcoal briquettes and light; cook til ashy grey.

Pan Apprentice Linda, getting the cream mixture ready. It was raining. Linda persevered, however! The briquettes on the fire grate are cooking down and awaiting the camp oven placement.

Spray inside of camp oven with Pam. Arrange 1/3 of the veggies in camp oven. Cover with 1/2 c. parmesan. Repeat layers. Top with  vegetables. Pour cream mixture over the vegetables. Place a piece of parchment paper directly over the vegetables. Cover.

Debra arranging; Jerry standing watch.


With the parmesan sprinkled on top.

Camp Cooking: Original recipe called for 50-60 minutes of cooking in a 350 degree oven. I used 18 briquettes on top and 6 underneath, in an effort to replicate the temperature charts I’ve found online (one is here).

Every 15 minutes, turn lid 45 degrees. Turn pot 45 degrees. The goal is to avoid hot spots as possible. As the charcoal wears thin, add more. After about an hour, remove cover and parchment paper. Scatter breadcrumbs on top of potatoes. Re-cover. Bake additional 15-20 minutes. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.


w Panko.

Stirred and ready to serve! Scrumptious!

Scoop up and enjoy! The dish received rave reviews from our hungry campers.



favorite piqua ware heat ring smoke fire 12 block logo old antique vintage cast iron skillet pot pan fry fryer frying for sale sell purchase buy get find cookware cook ware kitchenware kitchen bakeware baking bake roast roasting camp outdoor grill cooking user use display restore restored clean cleaned usa us america american made

It was a nice surprise to see that our vintage cookware is featured on Grub Street as one of 18 things that celebrated American chefs want as a gift this holiday season.

Of course we know how wonderful our old pans are and how well they cook…we are very happy to see that chefs appreciate them just as much as we do!

You can find the Grub Street gift guide here.


I have been saving this recipe on my Pinterest board, waiting for just the right time to give it a try. I knew that my foodie friends (including Anna and her husband Rob – they are major foodies!) would love it. A fall weekend on beautiful Madeline Island was just the right time to make it!

Anna and her husband, Rob, enjoying dinner on beautiful Madeline Island.

I slightly adapted the recipe. It is from “Cook it in Cast Iron,” a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen that came out in 2016.

Simple Baked Brie with Honeyed Apricots


~1/4 cup honey, divided ~1/4 cup diced apricots 1-14-oz. wheel Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into 1″ chunks 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary 1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives (I used a bit more, as well as some chopped scallions – my friends like onions!) Crackers and/or sliced baguette for dipping


As I was planning to serve this on Friday or Saturday evening – traveling to the Island on Friday – I gathered my supplies on Thursday. I plucked the chives and rosemary from my garden, washed them, and placed them into a small ziplock bag with a piece of paper towel. I waited to chop them until it was time to prep the dish) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop/dice the apricots. Toss them with the half of the honey. Add the rosemary and a bit of salt and pepper. Microwave for 1 minute, stirring halfway through. Toss the chopped brie with the apricot/honey mixture. Place into your cast iron skillet (I used a number 8 Vollrath from my friend Mary’s cabin kitchen) oven and cook until just melted – about 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Drizzle the remaining honey over. Sprinkle the chives over. Serve in the skillet alongside a sliced baguette and/or crackers. I used both – Breton wholegrain crackers and a “take and bake” baguette that I warmed alongside the brie.

Enjoy your delicious appetizer with your friends and a nice glass of wine!


Link to Guide: https://issuu.com/thepanhandlerllcmaryt/docs/holiday_gift_guide

Here is our handy-dandy interactive holiday gift guide. We have been working around the clock to get our inventory cleaned and listed. Right now we have over 600 pieces listed; almost all of our inventory!  

As every piece is unique, act fast. Once a piece is sold, it’s gone!

To access the 13-page gift guide, view below or click HERE.

Click on the small box within the preview to enlarge to “full-page” view. Once you are within the guide, you can click on the text of any product to be taken directly to its page.

Happy hunting!

mountain heat smoke fire ring set starter 3 5 8 chicken pan lid cover top griswold griswald grizwald old antique vintage cast iron skillet pot pan fry fryer frying for sale sell purchase buy get find cookware cook ware kitchenware kitchen bakeware baking bake roast roasting camp outdoor grill cooking user use display restore restored clean cleaned usa us america american made 1035 1031 1030 1033 “Cleaning” a crusty pan by throwing it into a fire or conversely…pouring cold water into your hot, hot pan.  Big temperature shocks can and will damage your pan. In addition to serious warpage and potential cracks, here’s what else can happen if you throw your pan into a fire…and it’s not reversible. See the tell-tale dark red areas on the pan? The iron is also flaking in areas. It makes me so sad to see an heirloom piece treated this way. When you come across a pan like this, it will often have serious warpage. Cold on a hot pan can also damage the pan. If you pour cold water into a hot hot pan, you risk a crack. Just say NO! Cleaning your vintage cast iron pan in the dishwasher. Hello, rust! As tempted as you might be to just put your pan through the dishwasher, don’t. Not only will it not remove the crud on the pan, it will surely result in a fine coating of rust. And so, you’re back to where you started…only worse! Sandblasting your heirloom pan. With really crusty pans, I know that it can be tempting to throw your hands into the air and hand off your old pan for sandblasting instead of going through the sometimes tedious chore of cleaning and scrubbing and cleaning and scrubbing (see the FAQs section for information on how I clean and season my pans). In addition to turning the patina of the pan an odd dull shade of grey, the “regular” sandblasting process often changes the surface texture of the pan. Pans with altered surface textures are not considered collectible. Overly aggressive sandblasting can also cause pitting to your vintage pan. I have read that some sandblasting – walnut shell blasting, for example – can work well and not damage the pan. Would I try it? No. I have found, however, that in addition to other cleaning methods, a pressure washer can work great at removing stubborn crud from your pan. Taking a tool to your heirloom pan that changes the surface texture.  Aggressive use of tools can mar the surface of the pan and change the texture. Once it has been changed, it can’t be reversed. In the photos below, you can see the results of heavy-handed use of a wire wheel on a beautiful old Griswold Iron Mountain pan. Forgetting to thoroughly clean your pan before putting it away. You know how you’ve seen those old pans at flea markets or antique stores that are covered in burnt-on crud? Those pans were not properly cleaned before they were put away. Many of the old pans I source are covered with carbon crud when they come into my hands. While some like to call this “seasoning,” I disagree. I don’t have any interest in cooking my food in a pan that is covered in crud from unknown sources. If you fail to thoroughly clean your pan after use – getting all the stubborn bits off – your pan will start to have food stick to those areas. Food sticking equals burnt buildup of crud. Your pan will lose its “non-stick” quality when enough crud builds up.

Take the few seconds it takes to thoroughly clean your pan before putting it away. A quick wipe with a paper towel is not typically enough to get the food bits off your pan – you want all the bits off. Here’s a little vid of me cleaning my vintage #12 Iron Mountain (by Griswold) cast iron pan. I have several more videos of my routine cleaning process on my youtube channel.  Note: as to the great soap debate, I am in the camp of “if I feel like it needs a bit of soap, I’ll use a bit of soap” camp. Not thoroughly drying your pan and lightly coating it with a dab of oil before putting it away. Once you’ve got the pan cleaned, you need to dry it thoroughly and wipe it with a dab of oil before you put it away. Some folks like to dry their pans in a warm oven or on the cooktop. As for me, I wipe them thoroughly with a paper towel and then spray a bit of Pam onto the cooking surface and wipe it out. I will also occasionally wipe the entire pan with the Pam; so that the surface is protected. If you do not protect the surface of the pan, you will develop rust on the pan. Who wants to eat something that was cooked in a pan covered with rust, however slight? Not me. Here is another vid of me cleaning – this time, my Griswold slant logo number 8 pan with heat ring (that I use on my glass cooktop – another myth busted!) This one shows how I apply the Pam after cleaning. Being afraid to use your vintage pan. As beautiful as it is, it’s meant to be used!  I know that sometimes people are intimidated by wonderful old cast iron pans. Don’t be! Can you use soap? (Yes). Can you use it on a glass cooktop? (Yes). Can it be used if it has some movement on the cooktop? (Yes – see my blog post here). Isn’t it really hard to clean? (No). Don’t they need to be treated with kid gloves? (No, though they are brittle and can crack/break). Use your pan. Use it for baking, searing, frying, roasting, making casseroles…really, for whatever you want. After use, clean your pan. Dry your pan. Put a spritz of your preferred cooking oil on the pan and wipe it out. Store it where you want to store it. On the stovetop, in a cupboard or drawer (ideally with a piece of paper towel between the pans to absorb any excess oil or moisture) or in one of our great racks. Voila – that’s it. Now, go cook something in your lovely old pans!