It’s been just over a year since Bowl Aid — I don’t know if yesterday’s find from the recycling depot has something to do with some karma related to last year’s rescue of a HUGE stainless steel bowl from the scrap metal pile, or if it’s because I’m a cook/chef that 3 neglected cast iron pans made their way to me. Maybe it’s just because one person’s trash is another treasure.
To tell you the truth, I’ve stopped asking why people throw this stuff away. Instead, I find myself blessing the fact that Pender has no municipal garbage trucks and no dump. When it costs you as much to throw away trash as it does on our little island, your mantra soon becomes “That’s too good for the trash!”
Most everything goes to Nu to You, the island’s thrift shop that has raised over a million dollars for island causes. If they won’t take it, then it goes to the Free Store at Recycling. Canning jars anyone? Boxes, I mean BOXES, of them are there for the taking — just tip out the wood bugs before you start your preserves…
As you can see, there were a few wood bugs in my new pans too. I didn’t bother tipping them out though. I just thrust this pan into our wood burning stove full of glowing coals. I have no idea how hot it gets in there, but after all the crud and grease burned off the surface, the pan itself went red — as in HOT.
Many people will advise you not to do what I just described — leaving the pan in the fire until the next morning could result in warping, discolouring, or the fatal cracking. There are other ways to clean cast iron. Google it. Unfortunately, some of them include toxic chemicals, and most of them just don’t work as well as some time over the coals.
The one above was in the worst shape. It spent a half an hour in the fire, before I extracted it, protected by 2 layers of welding gloves, and, with it at arms’ length, jogged over to the open oven and put it on a rack to cool.
DO NOT TRY THAT AT HOME. It’s really unsafe — if you’re going to put a cast iron pan into a wood stove, it should really stay there until everything cools down.
But like I’ve said before, I don’t follow recipes — and it also seems that I don’t follow advice. Even very sensible advice playing in a loop in my head as I’m rushing across our reasonably new carpet, mindful that our small dog is somewhere underfoot, holding a heavy, red hot cast iron pan in my clumsy MacGyvered gloves that I fished out from the bottom of the wood basket.
Let’s just say, I wouldn’t do it again. Except for the 2 more times that I did it that day. I said there were 3 pans, didn’t I?
(Don’t worry, he was safely out of harm’s way during my insane actions…)
Once all of the pans were cool, I turned to re-seasoning them. I brushed them with vegetable oil, inside and out, and put them back in the oven at 250° F for 3 hours. Then I turned the oven off and went to bed. In the morning, I had these beautiful things to greet me first thing.
Three good-as-new black beauties that will only get more non-stick with time. So, to whoever dropped them off at the Free Store on Tuesday, I owe you a big THANKS!