Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cast Iron---a Post Script

Due to receiving more questions about cast iron pans, here is one more blog about them!!

Even though I mentioned that the second pan, after cleaning, looked like the one in a previous

blog, I was asked for a photo. I guess people, including me, like "before" and "after" shots, so here they are.

Since I was only giving a general idea of how I had cleaned the pans, not a "follow these instructions" type post, there were a few things I did not mention: one of them is that a pan with a wooden should not be put through a cycle in the self-cleaning oven.

Aren't they heavy I was asked. Yes, they are, which is one of the reasons I avoided them for years. With the added weight of food, they are even heavier! If you are having problems with your wrists or hands, you might consider alternatives. I was told that enamel covered cast iron weighs a little less. Larger Lodge pans have a second handle, but I am not certain if the ones under 12" do. Just how did our old grandmothers and great-grandmothers lift those things?

I was also asked if I had a gas stove. No, I don't; I have an electric. Gas burners are better for cast iron. Because electric burners take a long time to cool down after being turned off, keep in mind that the food will still be cooking in the pans. So be careful that you don't overcook food.

I need to add that I have a smooth-top oven surface (ceramic glass). Some sites said to not use cast iron pans with them. I checked my manual for the oven and in the list for types of materials used in various pans, cast iron was mentioned. It did not say to avoid these as it does for glass or ceramic cooking utensils. You may want to check with the manufacturer of your oven.

I'm not an expert but I certainly have learned a lot. (Maybe that is why I am getting so many questions from others.)

We did buy another $5 pan. This one is 10 1/2" with NO CRUD---yay---but does have rust. It is a Wagner 1891 Original. Beginning in 1991 Wagner came out with a set of pans celebrating the 100th anniversary of Wagner, so this one isn't a very old pan. What I thought was funny is that there are instructions for seasoning the new pan etched on the bottom.

I'll try to answer any other questions I may get. If none, and if I don't make any great discoveries, I will try to continue with my theme of crafts and updating garments and patterns. Otherwise, I may have to change the name from gloriastitches to something like gloria'scastiron.

One thing all this cast iron has done is to get me more interested in cooking. I cook mainly because I have to eat!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cast Iron in the Self-Cleaning Oven

I had no intention of posting anything about our latest cast iron purchase. However, I found out some interesting things about this pan's trip through the self-cleaning oven and thought I had better pass them along in case anyone was using my advice about cleaning a really cruddy old pan.

In my blog of October 1 I gave a run down of how I had cleaned the other one. That one was $5 and very dirty and was rusty under the yuk. This one is larger and was also $5, but also a lot crustier, but with very little rust.

The first step is to remove the rust. Then get the pan to its original state. In the blog of October 1 I listed all the things I had done before finally giving up and saying that it was time for the pan to go into the self-cleaning oven. I was amazed that there wasn't any smoke involved since all sites had warned that there would be.

Friday I had done some scrubbing with coarse salt and oil and nothing was happening. Since all my work with the earlier pan didn't seem to do anything, I decided to just go for the self-cleaning oven cycle treatment without wasting my time trying to clean off some of the gunk.

Big mistake!! About ten minutes after the oven was going there was some lots of smoke coming from the oven vents. About ten minutes after that my oven turned itself off and gave me a warning sound that it was doing so. Lots of smoke. I opened as many doors and windows as I could and ran fans, as well as shaking a dampened towel.

What the heck? After the oven had cooled down and I could open the oven door, it wasn't bad on the inside. No ash though. Nothing had changed on the pan in that short time. Why the smoke? What had been different? Well, what was different is that all the cleaning and scrubbing and soaking I had done with the previous pan had apparently cleaned off almost all of the grease. The grease was still on this pan! This is what had caused all that smoke.

Now what? Well, I took a razor blade and noticed that chunks of charred remains were coming off (as charred anything is wont to do). Aha! I got a sturdy screwdriver and began chipping away. There were black pieces flying everywhere, but the pan was getting cleaned. It took quite awhile doing this, but I was actually enjoying it. It is more of a chisel motion, much as you do if you were to use the end of a window scraper and try to remove ice from the windshield, without damaging the windshield itself.

After I got off almost all of it (I was getting tired at this point), I did the seasoning, three times. I haven't posted a photo of the finished pan because it looks as clean as the other one in the prior blog.

This pan is from The Crescent Foundry Company out of St. Louis, Missouri. Very little can be found about them in a search. There are probably as old as Griswold or Wagner.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Samples of Doll Clothes

For all of those who requested to see what other kinds of crafts I do, here it is. Ok, it was one person, but who's counting?

The ex-Yahoo 360 members might recognize this photo as one I put up last year over there. I don't feel like uploading more photos at this time as I have to get some of my crafts done this week.

I knit, crochet, and sew for the 11 1/2" fashion doll--you know which one--and her friends. It is a lot of fun. I find that although it is quicker to sew for this doll, it is more "involved". Seams must be finished, the fit must be more precise, and it is quite tedious to sew some of the smaller pieces, like neck facings.

Updates: got another $5 cast iron pan, this one 11" and dirtier than the previous one. I haven't been able to get to the red outfit yet, but I will, and will post a pic of it re-done (and I still don't know what that will be.) Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cast Iron Pan Cleaned

Who knew?

Who knew this pan would increase in size after being cleaned? Nah. I read somewhere that pans are measured across the bottom, so this is what I was using when I said it was a 9" pan. Then I checked some pans that I have which have the size on them. They were measured across the top, so now this is what I did, and thus, my pan increased to 10 1/4 ". Yay--much more useful this way.

I went to many sites looking for the best way to clean the pan. (Check the previous blog to see what it looked like when purchased).

Several places said to just put it in the oven when using the self-cleaning function. Somehow I just couldn't bring myself to do that! Not that pans have feelings, but that is a high heat and I know what it can do to pans. Another reason is that they said that the smoke coming from the oven would be just awful.

I tried all the other suggestions first. I put spray oven cleaner on it and put it in a plastic bag for two days; I used sandpaper; I used the coarsest steel wool; I scrubbed, hard, with a mixture of oil and coarse salt; I even tried a razor blade.

Time to pull out the big guns. There was a suggestion of just throwing it in the fireplace. Now I knew that that would smoke something awful. The only thing left, short of sandblasting it, was the self-cleaning cycle. Suggestions were from 1 1/2 hours to 3 hours. I settled for just under two; if I were to do it again, I would set it for slightly longer. By the way, there was very little smoke.

It took about 5 hours after the cleaning process began before the pan was merely warm. It was white with ash. (sorry, I forgot to photo that). I washed it as suggested, then oiled, heated it to 300 degrees for one hour. I repeated this twice. Thus it was an all-day affair.

There was quite a bit of rust, which I thought I had taken care of initially. Apparently there were layers of rust, crud, rust, crud. I had to take care of the rust again, which is the easy part.

I am quite happy with the results. It looks like a new pan. In doing a search for Griswold Cast Iron Pans, going by the marks and name on the bottom, it was made somewhere between 1937-1957.

The company shut down in 1959. The war effort hurt them during the early 40s. Then there was a demand for "pretty, bright colored pots and pans" and the sales went down. This is too bad. Wagner, a competitor did buy them out. They are supposed to be resuming production.

Next step: cook something in this pan, which I hope to do this week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Five Dollar Cast Iron Pan

Having read some posts about cast iron pans, I got interested in them. I've had a griddle one for years but it is limiting since it is flat. The next week I found one at an estate sale. One? They had dozens there, all rusty and cruddy. There were three sizes: approximate 9 inch, 8, and 6. I wanted a 10 inch, but for $5 guess I couldn't complain. I tried to pick one that was the cleanest. Ha! All were bad. I don't know if these people had a restaurant or just bought a new pan when the old got dirty.
First I did the oil and coarse salt to remove the rust. (already done in the photos). That was easy, but there wasn't too much rust.
The next step is to clean the pan, then season it. Even though the pan is dark the crud (outside mostly) can be seen.
I am an expert at procrastinating, but do hope to get this done soon. I want to make these:
A 10-inch pan is suggested for the smaller amount, but I can just use less batter. Hope all of this works out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have a ton of patterns, mostly from the 80s and 90s, and since I haven't sewn in the past 10-12 years, I cannot justify buying too many more patterns, especially since I haven't sewn even a third of the ones I have!

Having had the idea for a long time of updating garments and patterns, I think I'll "have a go at it."

I spent a lot of money on books showing how to design, so it's about time I did something about it.

This outfit screams "the 80s", and needs to be updated. The fabric is a poly rayon blend. It was easy to sew with and since I like dots and red, (and trust me, it is dotted), plus it doesn't wrinkle, it's a good candidate for renewal. Since I don't go to an office, I wore this outfit to dinner or to parties---thus I'll bet that I didn't wear it more than four times, so the fabric is "like new", and the outfit has been hanging in my sewing closet for many years, just waiting for me.

Now, to decide what to do with it. Obviously, the sleeves need to be re-cut to a more updated style. Since they are full and long, there is enough fabric to work with. My thought is a long, standard set-in sleeve with eased cap and hemmed at the wrist, with no cuff or band.

I don't wear a lot of short sleeves and am not a fan of below elbow sleeves. Am looking for suggestions here.

On to the rest: is that collar cut on the bias too outdated? Or, would people think I was ahead of fashion? LOL. And what about that pleat down the front?

Should I leave it there? What about curving the top in at the waist and adding tucks or darts, front and back? All things to consider.

I am trying to avoid taking apart the whole top and re-cutting to a totally different style.

The skirt? Acceptable, I hope.

A post script to this: while taking pictures of me in this outfit, my husband said that he really liked this outfit and why didn't I wear it? I told him it is because it screams the 80s. He said, "So what? It looks good--wear it."

P.P.S. I did hit Enter to space between paragraphs, but it didn't want to cooperate. It's probably something simple. That was before; now there are several spaces! This is my first blog here---I'm learning how this place works.