Cast Iron Cookware at the Autumn Pioneer Fest
Last weekend was the annual Autumn Pioneer Festival in Belvidere, Illinois. I try to make it there every year to see all the great pioneer living displays. It reminds me of my Grandparents’ home a little bit and brings me back to my roots. I always feel more at peace with the world after visiting with the re-enactors and walking through the old homestead cabins.
One of the highlights for me each year is the cast iron cookware on display. If I had a bigger kitchen I would most definitely collect these treasures! I do have a few pieces that I use pretty regularly…my cast iron griddle and frying pan get a lot of action, and my Dutch oven is used a lot in the winter on our woodstove.
Sometimes I day dream about moving into an old cabin in the woods and living more like our pioneer ancestors. I suppose I live a little bit closer to that lifestyle than most folks. But we still have a tv, electricity, and a fairly modern home.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a huge cast iron cauldron for cooking outdoors, like this one?
If I ask nicely, maybe my hubby will give me some cast iron for my birthday! 🙂
Our wood stove is much more modern than this one and it doesn’t have an oven, but I still love cooking on top of it in the fall and winter. We use the electric stove very little once the weather gets cold and our electric bill is much lower since the wood stove was installed.
I’ll share more photos from the Boone County Autumn Pioneer Festival in another post. I hope you enjoyed all these wonderful cast iron pans!
We also use cast iron, but have to admit that stainless is also used here. We also cook over the wood stove in fall and winter and on into spring. BTW, that cornbread pan, when not able to do corn on cob over wood fired BBQ, then I will lightly oil the pan on the stove and cook the shucked corn on cobs there and just turn them semi often so they get a nice golden colored. Hard to beat when you desire corn on the cob and do not want to take the cobs from freezer to boiling pot!
I have a lot of stainless steel pots and pans too, Azriel. I use them when I’m cooking acidic foods like tomatoes. Cast iron makes them taste metallic and I’m reminded if I ever forget and chop up a tomato in my morning omelet.
The corn on the cob pan idea is super! I never considered that. I don’t have one of those and have often thought I’d like one, but ‘Do I have room?’ and ‘How often would I use it?’ are two of the questions I always ask myself and so far the pan hasn’t made the cut. But….now you’re giving me even more reason to seriously consider one. 🙂
I have one (in storage) as I just moved. I am 83, so my wrists don’t allow me to use much of my cast iron, so will probably end up giving it to someone who’ll use it. This one is still unseasoned. I live with my two sons now and use electric when I feel like cooking. (The boys like that, because they like my cooking!) I’ve been showing them how I make their favorites, and I’m learning from the oldest (the designated chef) some of his recipes. I want to teach them so much more, God willing. How to preserve and smoke cure foods, for one. Wish me luck. 🙂
It’s wonderful that you are teaching them to cook! I’m sorry that you can’t use the cast iron much these days. I’m sure I will get to a point when I can’t either. Best wishes with sharing your recipes!
I have a large cast iron skillet that makes the best fried chicken ever! Also, since we are living in our travel trailer right now as we build our home, and have only solar power, a toaster is completely out of the question. So, I toast english muffins, bagels, raisin bread, cheese sandwiches, etc., in my skillet. I have four sizes – from a huge 14 inch skillet down to an itty-bitty 6 inch skillet. I have made corn bread on top of a wood stove with my 8 inch skillet, and the bottom of the bread gets a beautiful golden brown. If I had only one type of cookware to cook with, I would gladly use the cast iron! Thanks for all the pictures, Lisa Lynn. I think my drooling will stop soon. 🙂
Thanks for sharing! Corn bread made in a cast iron skillet on a wood stove sounds delicious! I have tried that but burned the bottom…think I need to try again with the fire a bit lower. I haven’t tried toasting in the cast iron, but it makes sense and I will have to try that too. I hope you have your home ready to move in soon, so you can start collecting cast iron! Lol!
My mother-in-law was a tiny woman but she loved her heavy cast iron. I think of her when hefting the big 12″ skillet around. One favorite is my flat, round griddle. Makes a mean grilled cheese and some pretty fine quesadillas. It is a fun challenge to re-season a cheap but crusty, old, garage sale piece. Thanks for all the pictures!
Happy to share, Laurie! Thanks for sharing your experience with cast iron 🙂 I remember my Gram with a casti iron skillet too. I need to get busy and clean one I have than needs a restoration 🙂
Check out resale shops. I’ve picked up cast iron products from there for very reasonable prices.
Great advice, Gretchen! I know my parents have found a lot of cast iron skillets at flea markets…that’s where mine came from. I’ll have to check more places around here, but the ones I’ve been to didn’t have any. I think it takes a lot of looking sometimes. It IS fun to look, though. 🙂
We love cast iron at our house, too. We have my mother-in-law’s 12-inch skillet that I use almost every day. I have discovered it cleans easily if I dump in one of two tablespoons of coarse kosher salt and scrub with a homemade net scrubber and a little water. Works great.
Great idea, Country Wife! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I have one old cast iron skillet my parents gave me that is in very rough condition and I want to clean and season it. It will take some elbow grease to remove all of the caked on gunk. I’ll give it a scrub with a wire brush first and then try the coarse salt.
A wire brush on a disc/angle grinder, works great to remove the rust and get all the way down to the clean metal. Then damp rag wipe it out and then oil rag to wipe out the last of the iron oxide (unless you need more iron in your diet, in which case just oil the pan), then oil pan for your future use! I got an angle grinder at harbor freight during a tool sale for pretty cheap and the wire brushes for it at the same time. BTW, if you are going to attempt this route, get the wire brushes that have the wires twisted together in bunches and not the loose wires brushes. The loose wire ones lose their wires quickly and are not as good at removing the rust. The twisted ones rarely lose wires and take less than half the time to clean out the rust vs the loose wire brushes.
We also use the big skillet almost daily. But while hot, adding hot water and then letting it cool just enough to use a wire scrubber to get the now loosened foods off and then back on the stove it goes to dry and then off to cool and we’re good! Since cast iron is porous, I am concerned with the use of salt in cleaning the pan. That salt leeches out into the foods and I do like to adjust the salt in our foods, myself and not have the pan “helping” me.
Thanks for all the info, Azriel! I haven’t tried using salt to clean my pan…thought it looked like a good option. But I’m kinda cheap about using my sea salt for cleaning 😉 I never thought about salt getting into the cast iron, though. Thanks for sharing!