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.
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.