Saturday, January 21, 2012

My New Cast Iron Frying Pan:-)

My Mom had a cast iron frying pan.  I remember she used it a lot.   After using the pan she would wash it carefully and then "cook it on the stove top".  As a child I remember thinking "what an odd thing to do". I wonder now if that pan she seemed to love was her Mother's or maybe even her Grandmother's.  I wish I had her old frying pan, but it just did not work out that way.  So I asked for a new one for Christmas.  Santa, (Steph Josh and Caleb), came through:-)  Come Christmas morning I found a beautiful black frying pan under the tree.
My first opportunity to use my beautiful new skillet came with my January cooking meet up group.
The recipe was from cooking light, a southwestern style corn bread. While I did not like the finished product, edible but not enjoyable, we threw most of it away,  I did enjoy the learning experience of using my new frying pan.
Here are a few things I learned...
One site said to "always preheat your pan". The recipe I was working on said to coat the pan lightly with cooking spray and place in oven for 5 minutes before you add the ingredients to be cooked.

If you are going to fry with your pan I found this pre-heating advice....
"Water droplets should sizzle, then roll and hop around the pan, when dropped onto the heated surface. If the water disappears immediately after being dropped, the pan is too hot. If water only rests and bubbles in the pan, it is not quite hot enough. NOTE: Do not pour large amounts of cold liquid into your hot cast iron frying pan. This can cause the cast iron to break. Never forget your potholders! Cast iron pan handles get HOT when cooking!" 
(My finished product, not very tasty but pretty and a good learning tool:-)
Now what? How do I clean my pan?
There are differing opinions on the proper care and cleaning for a cast iron pan.  Here is what I found on the Serious Eats web sight...


People are irrationally afraid of caring for cast iron. The truth is, once you've got a good layer of seasoning, cast iron is pretty tough. You can't scratch it out with metal utensils. You can't destroy it by using soaps (modern dish soaps are very gentle on everything except for grease). To maintain and build on it, all it takes is to remember a few key points:
  • Use it often. A good layer of polymers should build up slowly in thin, thin layers. This means using your pan as much as possible—particularly for oil-based tasks such as frying or searing. Avoid cooking liquid-based dishes in the pan until it has acquired a reasonably good nonstick surface
  • Clean it immediately after use. Removing food debris is much easier from a hot pan than from one that has been allowed to cool. If you clean your cast iron skillet while it is still hot, chances are all you'll need is a tiny bit of soap, and a soft sponge. I'm particularly wary of this at dinner parties when a well-intentioned guest may decide to chip in after dinner and get a little too generous with the elbow grease, potentially scrubbing out some of my seasoning
  • In most cases, avoid tough abrasives. These include metal scrubby scouring pads, and cleaners like Comet or Bar Keepers Friend. The scrubby side of a soft sponge should be plenty for most tasks
  • Dry thoroughly, reheat it, and oil it before storing. After rinsing out my pan, I replace it on a burner and heat it until it just starts to smoke before rubbing the entire inside surface with a paper towel lightly dipped in oil. Take it off the heat, and let it cool to room temperature. The oil will form a protective barrier preventing it from coming into contact with moisture or air until its next use"
Here is what I found on a Southern Living Web Sight..
1. Wash skillet in hot, soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely.
2. Apply a thin coating of melted shortening (Crisco, for example) or vegetable oil with a solf cloth or paper towel.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place skillet UPSIDE DOWN on top oven rack.
4. Place foil on a cookie sheet and place on bottom rack of oven. This will catch the drippings from the skillet.
5. Bake in oven for one hour.
6. Turn oven off. DO NOT OPEN. Allow skillet to cool down in oven (several hours). There may be a film on your cookware, this comes off after use. You will have to use it a couple times as a test.

After each use, DO NOT CLEAN WITH SOAP - instead, let cool and use a hard plastic scraper to clean. Wipe well with oil afterward. If stuff is really caked on, you can soak it in hot water (after it's cooled off completely), but then you'll have to let it dry completely again and oil well.
So what did I decide to do? I washed in hot soapy water, rinsed throughly and then heated it on the stove top until it looked dry.  Then I turned off the heat and with a paper towel spread a thin layer of oil on the inside of my pan and left it on the cooling burner.  So far so good:-)

(If you do encounter problems with your frying is what Serious Eats had to say..

"Worst Case Scenarios

From left: scaling and rust.
There are basically only two really bad things that can happen to your cast iron cookware—scaling and rust—and neither of them is that bad.
The photo on the left shows a cast iron pan that has undergone scaling. This happens when you heat the pan too often without adding extra oil to it. Rather than coming off in microscopic bits like normal seasoning will, the layer of polymers sloughs off in large flakes. To reach this state, I stored my pan in the oven for a month's worth of heating cycles without reoiling the surface in between heating. It's easy to avoid this problem by regularly oiling the pan after each use and not overheating it (don't leave it in the oven during the cleaning cycle, for instance), but once it happens, there's no turning back—you'll have to reseason it from the start.
The photo on the right is a spot of rust that appeared on a cast iron pan that was not seasoned well enough and was left to air-dry. Water came in contact with the iron, causing it to rust. Unless the entire pan has rusted (in which case, you'll have to reaseason the whole thing), this one is not much to worry about. Rinse it out with water, dry it, heat it up, and rub it down with oil. After a few uses, the rusted spot should be perfectly well seasoned again."
Ok....back to my pan....

Looks lovely clean and shiny!
Thanks Stephanie, Josh and Caleb for a beautiful and functional Christmas Gift. I will use it often and think of you guys and my Mom each time I do, love you!:-)

Happy Cooking Everyone!
Enjoy Your World:-)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Recipe Review...."Hawaiian Banana Nut Bread" from Southern Living

My Mom used to make the most amazing Banana Nut Bread.  Moist and yummy.  Sadly I do not have her recipe.  Over the years I have tried to find one that was equal but have not been 100% successful.  I did find a close second though.  Hawaiian Banana Nut Bread from Southern Living.  I will not give it a 10 on my cooking scale but we have made it a lot and it never goes to waste so I will give it an 8.5/10 on my scale.  Its very good:-)

I gathered my ingredients.....

3 cups all-purpose flour3 eggs, beaten
3/4 teaspoon salt1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon baking soda2 cups ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups sugar8 ounce can pineapple, crushed and drained
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

  1. Combine first five ingredients; stir in nuts.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  3. Spoon batter into two greased and floured 8 1/2 x 41/2 x 3 loaf pans.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 10 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool in pans for 10 minutes; remove from pans and let cool on wire rack.

No I did not put wine in the bread, but the bottles looked nice in the pic:-) 

Wet and dry ingredients... 

Very pretty! 
If you like bananas and nuts I suggest you give this easy bread recipe a try.
Happy Cooking Everyone!
Enjoy Your World:-)