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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 4

Okay, so I’m going to start this post with two statements.  The first is aimed both at my parents and my landlord- I promise that when we did this portion of the restoration we had a fire extinguisher on hand and that the pan was not close to anything that could catch on fire.  The second is aimed at my father and everyone who knows better than me- I know I used too much oil.  I mean, I didn’t know that at the time, but have since realized that I did not need to use that much oil.  Thankfully Dan is an Eagle Scout so all the necessary precautions were taken.

Now for the light-on-fire installment of our series. As you’ll recall from part 3, the next step was to coat it with oil and “burn the bejesus” out of the pan.  So on Saturday we hauled out our large burner, threw some oil in the pan, and sat around until it caught on fire (extinguisher in hand).  The Capt’n’s advice was to only put the fire out “when it got a little crazy,” so I was expecting for this to get interesting.

We added a 1/4″ of oil to the pan, which I take it is too much.  The Lodge website suggested “a thin layer” and my dad (later) told me to put oil in the pan, spread it around, and then dump the excess oil out.  Somewhere in the middle is probably best.  From what I gather after reading about the process is that by bringing oil past its burning point in an iron pan you release free radicals that help to restore the iron.  Something about polymerization. Remind me to ask my chemist father-in-law about it the next time we see him.  I don’t totally know why it works, but I do know people have been doing it for centuries, and that’s good enough for me.  The internet is also full of arguments about what kind of oil to use, vegetable oil versus lard, etc.  I’m not going to get into that because I really can’t speak to what is best. I used canola oil and it worked just fine.

As the oil heated up Dan’s comfort level shifted from “this is really cool” to “this is making me nervous” quickly.  As soon as it started smoking a lot we cut the heat, and at that exact moment it burst into flames.  Following my dad’s advice I used baking soda to extinguish the flames, which worked like a charm.  The flames when out and then the oil-carbon-rust-baking soda combination formed these really gross/awesome bubbles.  Once it had cooled down I brought it inside and scooped out this gunk that was completely fascinating and disgusting.

After I got all the excess oil residue out I used a combination of steel wool and hot water to really scrub at the pan until it was rubbing clean and totally rinsed out.  This took approximately fifteen minutes.  After drying it off it looked like a brand new pan, it was amazing.

Even though it’s looking worlds better than it was a few weeks ago, I’m going to do one more round of sanding to really make sure I get the last of the carbon and rust out.  Then there will be two more steps- a gentle oven seasoning and its bacon christening.  I am so impressed by how (relatively) easy this whole process has been.  Time consuming, yes, but since I’ve been working slowly it’s been so much fun.  I can’t wait to pick up more cast iron to work on!

Part 1/ Part 2/ Part 3

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Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Pie

It’s that time of year again folks, National Pie Month! You may recall that last year, in honor of this most glorious month, I made one sweet pie and one savory pie a week.  And I held parties every Saturday so that my friends could come and eat them. I was crazy.  I can’t compete with that schedule again, so this year I’ll be making one pie a week, and I’ll decide at random whether it will be sweet or savory.  I’m playing fast and loose over here.

This week I made a Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Banana pie.  I had been thinking for a while about how I should start the pie holiday season and my mind kept wandering back to a chocolate cookie crust.  I love them.  Last year for pie month I made a lot of custards and creams and mousses, and while you might think that I would want to go the opposite direction I’ve actually been craving them.  Probably because I haven’t eaten a custard, cream, or mousse pie since last February.

This pie is a basic chocolate peanut butter pie with a cookie crust and a layer of sliced bananas.  It’s light and delicious, the perfect dessert for this dreary, cold, temperamental time of year. From what I could tell Saturday night, it was a big hit.  I’ve certainly been enjoying the leftovers.

In other news the ever-controversial Valentines Day is around the corner, which explains why my inbox is full of “the most romantic meal you’ll ever make” press releases.  I don’t claim to know anything about sexy food, but here’s my list of recipes I like to eat on date nights (read: not too heavy).  Enjoy or ignore.

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana Pie


12-15 chocolate sandwich cookies

1 stick of butter


2 8oz blocks of cream cheese, softened

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp sugar

Whipped Cream:

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp sugar

Peanuts for garnish

Two bananas

In a food processor, break down sandwich cookies.  Melt butter and combine.  Press the mixture into a pie dish.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Let cool completely.

In a stand mixer combine 1 cup cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp sugar.  Whip until stiff.  Set aside.  Pour the remaining cream, sugar, and vanilla in the mixer and whip until soft peaks form.  Set aside and refrigerate.

Combine cream cheese and peanut butter in the mixer.  Beat until fluffy.  Beat in 1/3 of the stiffly whipped cream.  Fold in the remaining stiffly whipped cream.

Slice bananas and line the bottom and sides of the pie crust with the slices.  Spoon the peanut butter mixture on top, spreading evenly.  Next, spoon the gently whipped cream on top and in the center, leaving some of the peanut butter mousse exposed.  Sprinkle with peanuts.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.


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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 3

I have to say, I’ve been cracking away at this thing and I’m starting to see real results! Today’s installment shows an additional 3-4 hours of heavy sanding. Or if you measure time as I do, one disc of Criminal Minds from Netflix (including the episode where Morgan (played by eye candy Shemar Moore) drives an about-to-explode ambulance into a field in the middle of New York City, I die).  Things at work have been really stressful lately (it’s grants proposal season for us) so taking some of my angst out on this pan has been really therapeutic.  After my last installment I switched from steel wool to coarse sanding paper, which really got most of the rust out.  As you can see, it’s come a far way.

After I posted the first installment my dad (known around the internets as The Capt’n) emailed me a list of advice.  Since he’s salvaged and conditioned many a cast iron piece I was grateful for his suggestions.  He sad that once I’d gotten most of the rust off that I should “burn the bejesus out of it,” so that is my next installment.  In our urban backyard we combined little oil, our large burner, and some baking soda (for fire extinguishing) and smoked out the neighborhood.  This process draws out a lot of the remaining rust, etc, and (according to the internet) restores some of the free radicals that the iron needs.  If you understand why this works, I would love to know.  I trust that it’s an important step but the science is a mystery to me!  Anyway, those that are following along on twitter will know that yesterday we set the pan on fire and it. was. awesome.  I can’t wait to share part 4.  Thanks for following along, and we’ll be back with more cast iron love next week!

Part 1 / Part 2 

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