Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cast Iron Cookware, Run to Your Nearest Thrift Store


Cast iron cookware, by any other name such as skillet, pan, or pot, is absolutely wonderful. I prefer to say pan, but most searches use cast iron skillet.

I've ditched anything Teflon,  and anything else that is suspect for that matter, which leaves me with stainless steel and cast iron. My stainless steel is a mix of old and new (think Revere Ware, it is great)

What motivated me were the alarming articles about Teflon, its toxicity etc.It is quite disturbing. DuPont mumbled something about phasing the PFOAs out (cancer causing chemical when over heated) but guess what, they haven't. (teflon lines self cleaning ovens and that yucky smell is guess what? very toxic) I threw out many pans years ago, but just recently fell back in love with iron.

The big problem is, no one makes a new good cast iron skillet. I tried the new Lodge ones and they are quite frankly...awful. The reason is they are made with a sand mold method and the surface is left rough, not silky smooth. The older ones were machine polished. So no matter how much you season it, things stick. What were/are they thinking?

The only option then is to find old cast iron skillets, obviously a limited supply. Ten years ago, you couldn't give them away, they were cheap at thrifts stores and yard sales and consider oh so...old and yesteryear. My how things have changed .If you can find one at a yard sale or thrift store, good for you, but mostly you'll find them at antique shops or Ebay. The prices may vary from $20 to $40 depending upon the size and condition. Look for a nice smooth cooking surface. Don't shy away from a little rust or some gunk. There is lots of advice on the internet for cleaning them up. The best one is putting them in an open camp fire for hours to burn everything off!

I've got a nice little collection going and have been searching for more for family and friends. Not too many bargains these days though, the dealers know what they are doing. I did have some that were in the family, a nice big #12. (numbers have nothing to do with actual size in inches) The small one shown was also a hand-me-down and makes perfect eggs. I rarely clean it, just rinse it off and leave a little grease on it.There is good advice online about seasoning old pans so they are non-stick.

The added benefit is these treasures are really green - low tech to produce, low chemical profile( the only issue is leaching iron into your food but that may be a good thing)  and they last forever. Given that these beauties are not made anymore and that their value will only continue to go up, I suggest your nearest thrift store, consignment shop, or antique dealer. Run, don't walk.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bill McKibben Gets Real

Cold, sunny.

Bill McKibben lets his hair down in Mexico (does not appear to be influenced by a Margarita) and finally says it like it is "There's no happy ending to where we prevent climate change anymore. Now the question is, is it going to a miserable century or an impossible one, and what comes after that."

Well someone has to (had to?) say it. In stark contrast to his usual upbeat monologues, Bill gets real here in this video. Perhaps his way of saying, we're past the tipping point. The train has left the station. Now it's a question of just how fast that train is going to go and if we have time to get out of the way and hold onto our hats.

 Bill's Climate Change Reality Check: