**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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July 1940. Berrien County, Michigan. "Migrant mother of family from Arkansas in roadside camp of cherry pickers."

I love thinking about the history of the old pans that come into our hands. I love to think about where they have been and what they might have cooked, for whom. I am very proud to be a part of preservation of these pieces of American history, and I love sending these restored pieces off to homes where they will be used, enjoyed, and handed down through the generations.

Earlier this year I spent some time looking through old Library of Congress photos and finding pictures of cast iron cookware in use. I wrote a blog post about it, which you can find here.

Here are a few more photos I came across. Captions in quotes are as printed with the photos. Enjoy, and just imagine where your old pans have been!


1808, “Cooking Dinner for the Hungry Soldiers.” Big cast iron pots over the fire.

“Hermit’s House.” Cast iron pans on wall. Circa 1865.

“The kitchen of a pullman car.” Circa 1882.

The Lone Star State circa 1901. “Camp wagon on a Texas roundup.” Dry plate glass negative by William Henry Jackson, Detroit Publishing Co

“Cast Iron” cartoon cigarette card, 1901.

“Approximately 10 irons on stove.” Circa 1902 – 1914. More irons on nearby table, too!

“Kitchen with stove, sink, and utensils.” Circa 1902 – 1914

“Kitchen with stove (having two irons and kettle and hot water tank above it), cupboard (filled with dishes), and table (covered with figured cloth)” Circa 1902 – 1914.

Bethlehem Steel Company. “Cupola for producing cast iron.” Circa 1860 – 1920.

October 1935. “Making cornbread with relief flour. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.”

“Slum kitchen, Washington D.C.” October 1937. Sad irons on stove along with what looks like a cast iron baking pan.

November 1935. Washington, D.C. “Kitchen in Negro home near Union Station.” 35mm negative by Carl Mydans, Resettlement Administration. Look at all the sad irons on the stove!

June 1937. “Child of Earl Taylor in kitchen of their home near Black River Falls, Wisconsin.” Photo by Russell Lee, Resettlement Administration. Sad iron on stove, cast iron pan on top.

“Tent of migrant stove maker and repairer on U.S. 90 near Jeanerette, Louisiana.” Photo by Russell Lee for the FSA. Cast iron Dutch oven.

Placing bread in deep skillet to bake near Marfa, Texas. May 1939.

Placing coals on lid of dutch oven for baking bread. Roundup near Marfa, Texas. May 1939.

Cook of the SMS Ranch frying meat at chuck wagon on ranch near Spur, Texas. May 1939.

Victuals and frying pan of migrant family along roadside near Henrietta [i.e., Henryetta,] Oklahoma. July 1939.

Placing bread in dutch oven to bake near Marfa, Texas. May, 1939

“Mrs. Wardlow baking corn bread in her dugout basement home. Dead Ox Flat, Malheur County, Oregon.” Oct. 1939.

Count your blessings. According to “The American Consumer Home Front During World War II,” 33% of all Americans had no running water in 1940, 67% had no central heat, 47% had no built-in bathing apparatus in their homes, 48 % did not have interior access to automatic or other washing machines, 48% did not have a refrigerator, and 33% percent cooked with wood or coal (citations omitted).


July 1940. Berrien County, Michigan. “Migrant mother of family from Arkansas in roadside camp of cherry pickers.” Sad iron on table.

SHARE THE MEATThe military needed huge amounts of food, too, to feed soldiers, and by late 1942 food at home was running short. Grocery stores started rationing canned goods to customers to prevent hoarding. Meat was in especially short supply. The government limited the amounts shipped to grocers and restaurants and set a “voluntary ration” of two and a half pounds of red meat per adult per week. But stores often could not get even that much, and residents of some cities faced a meatless Christmas. Shoppers in San Diego crossed the border into Mexico in search of full shelves. Time magazine blamed the government’s “blundering” for the shortages.U.S. War Production Board.

October 1942. “‘Share The Meat’ recipes. Braised stuffed heart. Brown the hearts on all sides in fat, then place in a covered baking dish or casserole. Add a half of cup of water, cover closely and cook until tender in a very moderate oven (about 300 degrees Fahrenheit). Calf hearts require about one and a half hours, beef hearts will require much longer — four to five hours to cook till tender.” Photo by Ann Rosener for the Office of War Information

“Bantam, Connecticut. Defense homes. The heating unit is in the kitchen of Fred Heath’s four-room apartment in the new federally-financed homes for eighty families just a few minutes from the Warren McArthur factory in Bantam. The well-insulated coal fire puts steam in the radiators and provides the heat for cooking. The tenants are well-pleased although on several nights when the temperature dropped to ten degrees below zero they were forced to replenish the fuel every two or three hours. That cigarette Fred Heath holds is not tailor-made, by the way–he likes to roll his own.” January 1942, Library of Congress photo.

Daytona Beach, Florida. Bethune-Cookman College. Southern fried steak and onions to be served in the cafeteria for students. February 1943.

“Man and woman at stove cooking.” Circa 1950s.


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.



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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!