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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 2

Okay, we’re back with part two of The Cast Iron Chronicles!  This weekend I took a good long crack at the pan, in total spanning approximately 3 episodes of Criminal Minds. My first step was to knock the gunk and as much rust as possible off with steel wool.  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  1) Why didn’t I just use an electric dohickey with a sanding attachment (I know for a fact that the Capt’n is thinking that as he send me an email suggesting that I attack it that way) or 2) Why don’t I just cover it in oven cleaner and let it soak overnight?

So for one- we don’t have any electric dohickeys, and I figured that’s why I have hands. And arms.  I know it would be faster to use power tools, but I’ve got plenty of Criminal Minds in my Netflix queue and all winter to work on this pan.  I’m in no rush.  As for the oven cleaner- because cast iron is such a porous  material I don’t want to use anything on this pan that I wouldn’t squirt on top of my eggs.  Cast iron has a tendency to retain the flavor of things and I don’t care to take the risk with oven cleaner, even if it would probably burn off later in the seasoning process.  I’m very careful with all my cast iron, I never use soap to clean them, only ever hot water. According to my Uncle Everett, Sybil only ever used salt to clean her cast iron, no water at all. So, no harsh chemicals during this process.  Just good old fashioned scrubbing.

I worked on the pan for about 2 1/2 hours. I removed all the pieces of debris and a large amount of the rust.  My plan is to continue with the steel wool and then transition to the coarse sand paper as needed.  I’m already beginning to see through the rust, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!  I’m so glad to hear that y’all are interested in this process, I am personally loving it.  There’s nothing like sanding the hell out of a piece of metal to take your mind off of the stresses of daily life.

Part 1

My posting schedule for this series will be a little behind the actual work I’m doing, so if you’d like to stay up to date check twitter and instagram (user: biscuitsandsuch). Not an iPhone user? Webstagram or Flickr will have the photos!

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Breakfast Nests

I love eggs. And not to sound like a total hipster, but I loved eggs before they were cool.  Pie too. And toy camera photography.  Not leggings though, I’m totally jumping on the trend bandwagon there… But eggs, we’ve always been good friends, especially when a dippy yolk is involved.  Breakfast sandwiches, breakfast pizza, pasta carbonara, I love it.  So, it goes without saying that a cupful of breakfast goodness topped with a soft yolked egg is pretty close to heaven in my book.  Egg heaven.

This recipe was very much a Saturday morning refrigerator dump.  My favorite kind of weekend breakfast, where you sauté up all the leftover vegetable odds and ends from the week, add bacon and a fried egg and, voila, breakfast.  I started with a turkey bacon cup (it was what we had on hand, usually I’m a real-bacon-all-the-way kind of girl), filled it with chard and onions, garlic and potato.  Then we topped the whole mess with an egg and baked.

Dan and I have very different preferences when it comes to eggs- I like mine running all over the place and he likes his firm.  This difference of opinions doesn’t usually impact our relationship, (we’re pretty level headed people when it comes to our eggs) except for when I make a dish like this where the eggs are all cooked together.  If, like me, your family has varying levels of egg preference I have a suggestion- for those that like a drippy, yolky egg, follow the recipe.  For those that don’t, leave out the egg and then top the baked bacon/veggies with a fried egg.  Overcooking an egg in the oven leaves the yolk hard and weird, so I’ve found, after a lot of searching for the middle ground, it’s best just to fry a separate egg.

Breakfast Nests

(makes four)

8 pieces of bacon

4 eggs

2 cups chopped (uncooked) chard

1/2 red onion

1 red potato

2 cloves garlic

Salt, pepper, red pepper

1 pat butter

In your pan, cook the bacon until the fat has begun to come off and it starts to crisp.  Take the hot bacon and mold it into a cupcake pan.  Wrap one slice all the way around the inside of the cup, tear the other piece in half and line the bottom. Preheat your oven to 350

Chop onion, potato, and garlic and add it to the pan.  Saute for one minute.  Chop the chard.  Add it in, along with the butter and seasoning.  Toss and cook until chard has wilted.  Divide between the four cups, pushing it down so that there is at least 3/4 inch of room between the vegetables and the top of the bacon.

Crack an egg over the sink, tossing 1/3 of the whites.  Put the yolk and remaining whites into a cup.  Repeat with the remaining three cups.

Bake at 350 until whites have set.  Yolk should be soft, approximately 20 minutes.

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The Cast Iron Chronicles: Part 1

As you can guess from pretty much every post on this blog, I am deeply devoted to cast iron.  In fact, in the hierarchy of food related things that I love I’m pretty sure it goes 1. Pie 2. Bagel Sandwiches 3. Cast Iron.  And often, #3 is an important factor in achieving #1 and #2.  There’s something magical about cast iron- it’s durable, non-stick, beautiful, reliable.  Consistent.  It’s everything that my very expensive stainless steel pans are not.  In fact, in the years that we’ve had both cast iron and stainless steel our cast iron has never left our stove top.  It moves seamlessly from fried pickles to caramel to sopapillas.  Can you tell I love it?

Today I’d like to introduce a new series on Biscuits and Such, The Cast Iron Chronicles.  Creating series, sharing behind-the-scenes peeks, tutorial posts, and overusing the ever controversial serial comma are all part of the big-picture goals for 2012.  As long as that sounds good to you, of course.

Anyway, back to The Cast Iron Chronicles.  My friends Brit & Aaron (coconspirators in the Dan-turns-27-party plan) recently moved from LA to Alexandria.  When they moved into their new house they found (among other things) this cast iron pan in their back yard.  As you can see, it’s in bad shape.  Covered in rust, battered and weather-worn.  I immediately claimed it.  They brought it up when they came for the party and today I finally took a crack at it.

This series, probably four or five installments, will follow the pan as I remove the rust, dirt, and grime and bring this beauty back to her former glory. My plan is to use a combination of steel wool, sand paper, and vegetable fats to remove the rust and season it again. The Capt’n gave me a few tips, as he has restored many a cast iron cookware item in his day, including Sybil’s cauldron. Even so, I’d love to hear any tips you have for conditioning cast iron, or anystories from your own projects. This should be a fun ride!

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