Sunday, June 9, 2013

Things that make my day...

(... naturally, they are food related.)

Making Hungarian goulash in a kettle over the open fire

 Home-made waffles with syrup and whipped cream for breakfast

Well, yes - but in this case, I didn't even eat any. I was THRILLED because for the first time since buying it two years ago, I successfully used my Griswold cast-iron waffle maker. 

When I bought it (used on Craigslist), the castiron was in bad shape. It had no rust, but had been seasoned with vegetable oil, rendering it sticky and useless. Every time I tried to make waffles, the batter would stick, making it impossible to remove the waffle, and making a horrible mess in the process. Over time, from me scrubbing off burnt-in batter, and not seasoning it myself because I knew the cast-iron needed to be stripped and re-seasoned, it started becoming rusty.

Online, I tried to read up on how to get out the old, sticky grease. Putting the cast-iron in the oven didn't produce the necessary heat to rid it of the buildup. Neither did ammonia, and I never quite could get myself to spray it in (highly toxic) oven cleaner. So for the last year, the waffle maker has sat, rusting away. 

My last attempt was going to be to set the irons into some hot embers, since this would produce much higher temps than my oven ever could. Online recommendations were divided on this point - some sites suggested this could warp or crack the cast-iron, while others swore by it. 

So when the fire pit was nice and hot while cooking the goulash, I decided it was worth a try - all I had to lose was an increasingly rusty antique. However, I was so sceptical it would work, that I didn't even bother taking a "before" picture.

I didn't expect the metal to become glowing red, but it did. Scary! In fact, it became translucent from the extreme heat! Certain that I had permanently ruined the waffle maker, I fished it out, one piece at a time (there are 3 total) with a metal hook, ready to hose it off with cold water like a true blacksmith.

After being doused with cold water, the pieces were cold enough to handle - and lo and behold, the metal was dry and rough, not at all sticky. The terrible grease buildup was GONE!

The rust was still there, so at this point, I soaked the pieces in a tub with a 50/50 water/apple cider vinegar solution. Two hours later, the rust wiped off with relative ease. 

My waffle iron was now de-greased, rust-free, and ready to be re-seasoned correctly. I applied a coat of home-rendered lard (which, unlike plant oils, holds up well on cast-iron even if stored for months), and set it in the oven at a low temperature to season. I thought it would take several coasts to achieve a good non-stick finish, but to my utter surprise, that first coast seemed to do it. 

Somewhat apprehensively, I prepared the waffle batter, ready to have disappointed kids once again after another failed experiment at getting this waffle maker to work.

When I cautiously opened the waffle iron to check on the first waffle, I was ready to be let down. Instead, I saw this:

Clearly, not stuck! It plopped right off the top iron, too, and we soon had a big stack of fresh, crisp, delicious waffles waiting to be devoured. 

For me, this was VERY exciting. I love when I finally succeed at something I had failed at again and again, and given up on (like, say, gardening - still no success on that front).

Baby Stephen had his fair share, and then fell asleep in his high chair.

Finally, FINALLY, I can throw out my old waffle maker - the last "non-stick" teflon-coated equipment in my kitchen.


  1. Hooray, way to go you! I still have several "bullet-proof" Teflon coated baking sheets/tins...etc. But, I am hoping to replace them eventually. Thanks for the encouragement - your waffles look delicious! :)

  2. Have you heard of Dave Owens (The Garden Guy)? He's local and has written some books that are very specific to our AZ weather.

  3. This was really cool! I'm picturing the whole blacksmith scenario in my head. Fun!

  4. ive grown a few things the last few years, but im not raising 7 kids....:). its been hard...but i think thetes just a learning curve to all things, and then just hard work--after all were out of the garden and all subject to desth?? :(. we have to have food to survive so youd think God would make it all a little easier?? :(. but i grew corn beets turnips carrots squash, was hard for me bc i was way more used to driving my little vw convertible up to atm and them to fast food place. i really hadnt developed many skills myself in life-practical that is!? i could hike and do other outdoor activities....but not even feed myself. keep trying!! youll be thrilled when you grow something!!! :). AZ lady had a facebook page....AZ plant lady-something like that.....good blesdings! you have many mouths to feed......:)

  5. Hello Mrs. A., We have only recently discovered your husband's sermons and your blog. I love cast iron pots and pans, myself and have many. I have tossed many of them into the bonfires we have when we clean up the wind fallen branches. Never have I put water on a hot skillet, as I have heard of it cracking them or warping it. It was God's wonderful providence that your beautiful skillet was not harmed. I love it when I can see His hand on my actions. Seeing it in the action through your blog is uplifting. I will enjoy reading more, I am certain. Thank you for sharing,
    Mrs. M

  6. Hello Zsuzsanna!
    I just discovered your husband and your blog and I love both of you already!
    That gulash sounds awesome, Im from Romania (but live in Greece atm) so I know how flavorful the food cooked on an open fire is, wish I could cook some myself but cant find the kettle here.
    May God bless you and your family!


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