Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category

Baking Pans

Howdy friends,

I’ve just returned from what I think was the biggest cast iron sale of the year, at Simmons Auction!  Oh boy, was it an experience!

Pan-Handler founder Mary and I drove down to Richmond, MO from the Twin Cities to attend.  The auction was open the previous day for viewing of the lots, but we arrived at 7 am on auction morning to check it all out.

Even though pictures were available online for bidders who couldn’t be there in person, nothing compares to seeing everything up close.  Often, pans will have tool marks, scratches or warping that may not be visible in the pictures.  We’ll be frank – several of the pans we were initially excited about had wire-wheel marks that reduced both their good looks, and their value, so we had to pass.  We wrote about wire wheels and their impact on pans in an earlier blog post you can find here.

Example of a pan with wire-wheel use

There were approximately 750 lots, with many lots covering several pans at once.   When we say this was a big cast iron sale, we weren’t kidding!

Some of the pans at the auction!

Mary and I spent two hours going through all the lots to find the nicest stuff, and calculating what would be a reasonable price to pay.  We didn’t make it all the way before the bidding began though!

As you can see, it didn’t take me long to start collecting pans.  Eventually, they allocated a separate corner of the room just for my pans.

Serious Bidding!

There were some fun pieces too, including a donut maker, the Lodge California Acorn Pan, and a heart & star gem pan.  There was even a large cross shaped wafer iron.

Cast Iron Donut Maker

California Acorn Pan by Lodge

Mostly though, there were lots and lots of pans…. baking pans, griddles, waffle irons, dutch ovens.  It was cast iron heaven!

Never Ending Pans!

Lids Lids Lids!

Baking Pans

Needless to say, there were some serious cast iron collectors there.  People had come from all over the country.  Whilst some had only a couple of hours drive from within the state, there were others from Minnesota, Indiana, South Carolina, and one couple who had driven all night from Louisiana.  Folks were here to bid!

I had met many of these people at the G&CICA National Convention in Springfield, MO back in May, so it felt a bit like a mini-reunion.

Many people ask, what is an auction really LIKE?   Well, for starters, it moves fast!  They were selling at a rate of approximately 100 lots per hour, which is more than one lot per minute.  More than one person got caught up in a conversation and missed bidding on a piece they had their eye on!  You really need to pay attention.

Secondly, there are no breaks.  The auctioneers rotate in and out, so if you need to step away, you need to time it with a bunch of pieces you don’t want to bid on, and always keep an eye on the screen to see what lot number they’re up to.  It’s more than just the auctioneers too, there are “spotters” who each have a side of the room to keep an eye out for bids.  You don’t need to throw up your paddle every time, once they know you’re in, they look at you to see if you’re going to bid.  All you have to do is nod, waggle your finger, or flutter your eyelashes and they take your bid.

The auctioneer can’t cover the whole room, so they keep track of the price and listen to the spotters’ calls.  The spotters also have different styles of call.  They yell, hoot and holler in all manner of ways.  The first day I had Larry mostly watching me – I could turn my back to him and wiggle my toes to bid, and he’d still see it!  The second day I had Mike, who made what sounded like bird calls when calling bids “Yep Yep Yep Yeeeeeaaaahhhhh”  “Yep Yep Yep Yeeeeaaaaaahhhhh”

The Auction Team: From Left, Jim McVee, Mike Stephens, Bob Simmons, Larry Edwards

We finished about 500 lots the first day in about 6 hours.  We were exhausted, but we weren’t done yet!  There was a lot of packing to do, and Mary was inspecting the lots for the following day.  It was an early night back at the hotel.

Day 2

Day 2 had about half the lots of Day 1, but the bidders were looking fierce.  There were some rare and beautiful pieces that were on the cards.  The item most anticipated was Lot #554, the Favorite Piqua Ware No. 13 Skillet. There were also 2 Griswold No. 13 skillets, one slant logo and one large block logo, a rare Griswold No. 2800 What & Corn Stick Pan, and a rare No. 9 Griswold Gem Pan (pattern number 347, variation 3).  Finally, there was a Griswold block logo loaf pan cover.  I have to admit, this is what I had my eye on.

By the time Lot #554 came up, the excitement in the room was palpable. These pans are as rare as hens’ teeth, and collectors had sold their grandmothers and were wielding checkbooks!  The bidding was epic and jumped over $1,000 very quickly.  Once it hit $4,000 there were only two bidders left in the fight.  It slowed down, the increments lessened, and it eventually sold to an Indiana collector for $4,900!

It wasn’t long until the other rare items were up, the two Griswold #13 skillets and the 2800 corn stick pan all went for over $1,000.  The No. 9 Gem pan sold for $2,000.  My budget didn’t stretch to these items, but it was highly entertaining watching other people battle it out.

The auction finished earlier than Day 1, and Mary and I were able to load up the car and head back to the Twin Cities that day.  I’m sorry to say that I missed out on the donut maker and the acorn pan.

Did I get anything interesting?  Well…..

We made it all fit!

I brought back 70 pans (including quite a few beautiful ERIE pans), 10 dutch ovens, 10 waffle irons, some griddles, a LOT of lids, and….

Griswold Loaf Pan Lid

……..a very special Griswold loaf pan lid.

Strawberry Pound Cake

A hidden gem of vintage cast iron is the small pan.  Everybody understands the need for a good sized skillet that you can cook for your family in, but sometimes people will look at their small pans, like their No. 3’s, and scratch their heads.

We did a whole lot of baking over many weeks to give you some ideas.  Small pans are incredibly versatile, and once you’ve read this you’ll be brimming with ideas of how you can use yours.  For this article, we used four Wagner #3 skillets.  A Skillet Size Search will show you all our No. 3’s, right here.

We also took a lot of our inspiration from the 2017 edition of “Cast Iron Baking” magazine, which was written by Hoffman Media, the folks behind Southern Cast Iron and Taste of the South magazines.  To get your own copy of Cast Iron Baking magazine, just click here, or to get a subscription to Southern Cast Iron, click here.

Firstly, the easy one – Eggs for one!   If you’re making yourself one or two eggs, you don’t want a big 10″ or 12″ pan.  These smaller pans are just perfect for when you’re frying up some breakfast just for yourself.  They are small, light and take about 10 seconds to clean afterwards.

Second, Mac & Cheese!   Whether it’s from a box, or made from scratch, mac & cheese is perfect for the #3.  Best of all, you can serve it directly in the skillet.  The one pictured was made using Cracker Barrel “Sharp Cheddar & Bacon”, and it was good.


Of course, there are also Desserts! You can bake mini skillet cakes in #3’s.  We used this Strawberry Pound Cake recipe from the cover of the 2017 edition of “Cast Iron Baking” magazine.

We think that maybe the cakes are a little large for one person, but they are perfect for two!  Our friend Bonnie was a taste tester and liked them so much she took all of the cakes home!

Please note that the recipe produced 4 x #3 skillets of cake, so adjust the quantities if you don’t have four #3 skillets.

Skillet Cookies!!!

Who doesn’t love a warm skillet cookie?  This is something you can eat right out of the pan!

The recipe we used was from page 86 of the magazine, that we adapted from one big skillet, to 4 smaller ones.  The recipe was perfect for either, but when cooking in the smaller skillets, take them out of the oven at the earlier end of the suggested cooking times.  It tasted even better than it looked!

Cast Iron Baking also gave us permission to share the recipe, which is at the bottom of the page.


If you love the crusty edge pieces, then the smaller pans give you all that!


Cobblers are PERFECT for a single serving in the #3’s.  We celebrated our first spring meal on the deck with a cobbler!



All the recipes produced 4 skillets of food The original baking times were perfect, just stick to the lower end of the recommended range The original cooking temperatures in the recipes were perfect.

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

Reprinted with permission from Cast Iron Baking Magazine 2017

5 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened) 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1 large egg 0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 0.5 teaspoon kosher salt 1.5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream 1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels Vanilla Ice Cream – to serve

First Preheat oven to 350’F.  Spray a 10″ cast-iron skillet (or four No. 3 skillets) with cooking spray

Second In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 – 4 mins, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Add egg and vanilla, beating to combine.

Third In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating just until combined.  With mixer on low speed, gradually add cream.  Fold in chocolate morsels.  Press dough into prepared skillet.

Last Bake until golden brown, 20 – 25 minutes (20 mins for No. 3 pans).  Serve with ice cream.



Cast Iron Baking 2017

Southern Cast Iron Magazine

Taste of the South Magazine


After the success of Round 1 of Waffle Testing, I was excited to get into Round 2, so without further ado, I’m going to quit my waffling and get into it!

The Batter

This batter was from well known chef Alton Brown and I found it on the Food Network, right here!  Like the last round, this recipe uses butter and not oil, but it also adds buttermilk, and mixes both whole wheat and all purpose flour.

Mix the dry ingredients first!

Once again, I made this first to give it time to sit, and once again, it came out really really thick.  Nevertheless, I let it sit, and moved onto heating my iron.

The Waffle Iron

For this round of testing, I used the super unique EC Simmons Keen Kutter Waffle Iron (No. 8).  It looks all innocent from the outside…

But once you open it up, you’ll know that your waffles will not look like all the other waffles out there!

There is no way I would have done waffle testing without using this waffle iron. It is just way too cool!

Let’s Cook!

With this pan, I did the identical  steps to the Griswold in Round 1.  I heated both sides for about 5 mins each on Medium – High, but it was immediately obvious that what worked the first time round wasn’t going to work in Round 2.  The pan was smoking!  The best time to put in the batter is when the pan is just beginning to smoke, but this was about to set off the smoke detectors. Clearly, the EC Simmons pan heats up faster than the Griswold.

I turned the pan down, and put in the batter.  It started cooking way to hard and fast, another indication of a too-hot pan. I took a picture as it was a clear example of what not to do!

A sign of a too hot pan

I reduced the cooking time down to 4 minutes, but I don’t think I reduced the heat enough for this (it was set at Medium), and the waffle ended up browner than I would have liked.

This pan not only heated up faster, but it produces a thinner waffle, so you’ll need to heat up on a lower temperature, and cook for less time to get a great waffle.

The taste, however, was fantastic!  Alton really hit the nail on the head with the flavor.  The waffle didn’t taste dense either, which I attribute to the thinner waffle size.

I tried adding some water too (a cup) and it became quite runny.  It impacted the cooking time (needing less) and it made the waffles almost too light to be able to cope with the toppings I had chosen for today (cottage cheese and blueberries).  In retrospect, Alton’s recipe was perfect the way it was written for this waffle iron.  When diluting batter, don’t do what I did and lump in a cup of water at a time, add it in 1/4 cup increments.  Learn from my mistakes!

Here’s a later waffle with the diluted batter.

And once again, nothing stuck to the paddles!  Clean up was going to be a breeze!

Lessons from Round 2

Use a really cool waffle iron, If your paddles are smoking like a chimney, they’re too hot.  Let them cool a little before pouring in the batter. You may need to play around with the heat time and temperature before you find the perfect setting, You may need to play around with the cooking time before you find the right time for your particular iron You’ll still need to flip the waffle iron to cook both sides of the waffle When diluting batter, add your water in increments and test. You may need to vary the density of your batter depending on your waffle toppings.


In Round 3, we’re making Chocolate Waffles, and they will be awesome!

Happy Cooking!



Hello Everybody!

As you may have heard, I’ve taken over The Pan Handler LLC from Mary, who is off on new adventures and will try very hard to be retired.

Now the initial flurry of activity from taking over is calming down a little, I wanted to introduce myself, and chat a bit about what’s going on with our pans!

First things first – like Mary, I live in Minnesota, though a different part of town. I’ve known Mary for about 9 years now, so The Pan Handler is an old friend. I’ve been fortunate enough to go on camping weekends with her when she brings her iron and does recipe testing on us, out over the open fire. She found me a wonderful, enormous griddle that we take camping. We use it for pancakes in the morning, and steaks and brats for dinner. We absolutely love it.

Although I’m originally Australian, I’ve been here for 11 years this year, and my husband Rob is from Wisconsin, so I’ve definitely settled in the Midwest. We have two fur children that we adopted last year, cats called Myst and Mango. One is black, and one is orange, so we call them our Halloween Cats. Both my husband and I love cooking, so you’ll be seeing recipe and pan testing from both of us.

Your big question might be – what’s going to happen to There is nothing to worry about – we’re keeping this company just the way you love it, with gorgeous iron, lovingly cleaned and restored for future generations of Teflon-free cooking. I’ll be sharing recipes on Twitter and Facebook, of course, but also cooking, blogging and showcasing more of our products. Everybody LOVES cast iron skillets but there are so many other fabulous pieces that slip under the radar, and we want to make them shine.

I’ll also be unveiling a “Before and After” page, where you can see pictures of how bad some pans can really look when we purchase them, and the wonderful treasures that appear once we’ve cleaned and seasoned them. Some of the transformations are amazing!

Mary will be doing some guest blog posts, and is coming to some auctions and cast iron meets with me to help find some gorgeous pieces for you. We’ve got some camping trips coming up this summer with her, Linda and some other friends, and we’ll be taking our iron and trying out some more fun ideas for campfire cooking in cast iron.

We have a big stack of every type of cast iron cookware waiting to be cleaned, I’ve been secretly hunting it down since Mary and I started talking about this last year, and there’s a lot of inventory waiting to come online. Linda has a busy time ahead of her! The first few pieces are ready and will be listed this week, so keep an eye out as there will be a lot more coming over the next few months.

Finally, if you have a question about any of our products listed online, or if you think there’s something we can do better, don’t hesitate to let me know!

I’m really excited about this year, and bringing you beautiful cast iron for your homes and family.


Happy New Year!

Firstly, everybody here at The Pan Handler (Anna, Linda and Mary) all wish you a happy and healthy 2017!

Whilst everybody else is writing articles about how to de-clutter your house, get washboard abs or pay off your mortgage in record time, we have written our own Cast Iron Resolutions for 2017!  We think they’re a bit easier, and more fun than 100 sit ups every morning.

The Pan Handlers resolve the following…..

To never put a cast iron pan in an open fire To always heat the pan before adding any food To bake more! To always use a pan handler (yes, I have the burns to prove I don’t) To put a piece of paper towel on the pan before putting it away with other cookware To always clean it after use To find all the special pieces our customers have us looking for!  We have a list of things you want that we don’t have on the site, so we can keep an eye out when we go hunting for treasures. To go camping more, and we’re taking our cast iron.  Our pans travel! To experiment with all our different bread pans – French bread pans, bread stick pans, bread fingers, corn bread…. the possibilities are endless! To search further and wider than ever before to find the best cast iron cookware for y’all!

Do you have any cast iron resolutions?  Feel free to share them with us on our Facebook page!