Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cleaning and Re-seasoning My Wapak Skillet

My wife and I first lived in Minster, OH for 3 years and then in New Bremen, OH for 3 years. Our home décor was country, early American. We went to a lot of auctions to buy things. That’s when I first noticed Wapak cast iron skillets. They were bringing pretty high prices even back then; the older ones with the Indian head logo brought more. I was not too interested in them then.

We moved to Wapakoneta, OH in 1973; my wife was born and raised here. Sometime in the 80’s I got interested in black powder shooting and joined a local club. Camping out and outdoor cooking went along with black powder shooting. I bought my first cast iron piece, a 12 inch skillet with lid. My son started playing soccer and all his games were on Sundays, the same day of our monthly shoots so I got away from shooting. I can’t remember ever using the skillet; later I loaned it to my neighbor. After my neighbor died, his wife gave the skillet back to me. It was pretty dirty and lay in my work shop for a few years.

The last five years I have bought several Lodge cast iron pieces, a 9 inch skillet, a 10 inch chicken friar, a 5 quart Dutch oven, and a small bean pot. I like cooking with it and use it in my oven, on my glass top range and in my Traeger pellet smoker. I also bought a 10 and 12 inch Lodge carbon steel skillets I really use a lot.

Early this year I noted the 12 inch skillet in my work shop and decided to clean it up. I had good luck cleaning two pottery dishes in my self- cleaning oven and decided to do the skillet and see how it came out. It came out completely clean of the old grease.

I read up on re- seasoning cast iron and found the best to me was using flax seed oil. You wipe on a small amount then dry it all off; this still leaves a light coat. You put in a 500 deg. oven for 1 hour then turn it off and let cool down. You do this six times and it will leave a nice black color and non-stick that will last. I could not find flax seed oil locally and when I tried to order some it was too expensive. I settled on grape seed oil and it worked just fine.

Last Friday I took my wife to get her hair done uptown. I did a little window shopping while she was getting it done. I saw a guy carrying two skillets that looked old. I stopped and ask if he had just bought them. He said I am trying to sell them, I looked them over and one was a Wapak no. 8. He wanted $50 for both and I tried to buy the Wapak for $25 and he said no I’d like to sell both. I said how about $30 and he took it. I knew that was a decent price from researching the net for one. It was pretty dirty but was sure it would clean up like I did the 12 inch.

I don’t go to many auctions anymore but my wife and her aunt do. I told them to watch for Wapak skillets for me. I had also been watching the internet for them; so I thought it a bit ironic I saw the guy on the street with one for sale.

Wapak cast iron skillets were made by the Wapak Holloware Co. from 1903 to 1926. The one thing you notice is how light weight it is compared to today’s cast iron skillets. It is not hollow but thin walled. I weighed my new lodge 8 and it was 5.25 lbs. The Wapak 8 hollow ware weighs 3.75 lbs.  All I can find is it says the decline in quality of iron ore and more modern manufacturing methods were the causes of them becoming thicker and heavier. Two other noted makers of hollow ware were Wagner of Sidney, OH and Griswold of Erie, PA and are sought after by collectors.

Very little history can be found about the Wapak Company. The logos on the back were an Indian head being the oldest, Wapak in block letters, one with the Wapak more pronounced and Wapak Z which had a Z like extension formed from the bottom of the K. The Wapak letters are also slightly tapered.  Mine is the Wapak Z and I would say it was the latest of the logos but that makes it at least over 87 years old. Some of the older skillets go at $100 or more, the odd sizes bring more since they are scarcer. The Indian heads are more yet and highly sought after.

Another thing people like about cooking with the old Hollow Ware is the very smooth interior. The Lodge cast iron ware sold today has kind of a grainy dimpled inside and some people claim it makes it more non-stick than the smooth. My 12 inch was made by Lodge and has a machined inside. The Lodge also comes pre-seasoned and I have seen some say they don’t like it so they remove it and do their own. I find that is too much work and have had good luck cooking with mine. If they ever need it I can clean then and re-season.

I did my Wapak skillet in the oven self-clean cycle for 2 hours and let cool. It came out good, one thing I noted doing both the Lodge 12 inch and the Wapak 8 inch skillets was the rust. Either the rust was already present or the high heat cleaning introduces it. I think it is already present since the older Wapak skillet had a lot more of it. It seems to be permeated into the cast iron so I didn’t try to clean them more. After the first seasoning of the Wapak skillet I did sand the inside some.  I started over doing the six coats and below are some photos of the steps.

I used my seasoned Wapak skillet to fry some bacon and it did well and cleaned up with ease. I will probably do some bacon in it a couple of more times before using it for other cooking.

Original Condition

After self-cleaning in the oven

Lightly oiled for seasoning

After sanding the inside

After one seasoning

After the sixth seasoning

Monday, October 28, 2013

Turkey Meatloaf and Scalloped Potatoes

Oct 27 2013

Trying to cook a little healthier for my wife I decided to have a turkey meatloaf tonight. I found a good recipe using sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese by Giada De Laurentiis at food network. I had some of my oven dried tomatoes I could use instead of buying sun dried.

I had some southern style white gravy left I could use to make some scalloped potatoes and a few carrots for a veggie side.

We had a late lunch today so planned on supper at 6:30. I had thawed out a ground chuck patty to add to the pound of ground turkey. I mixed up the meatloaf early and in the fridge.

I heated up my Traeger at 5:00 to 325 deg., 350 grill level. I sliced up about 6 potatoes and coated with some of the gravy; half went into a casserole and then some white cheddar, a little more gravy then the other half of potatoes topped with the rest of the gravy and some panko bread crumbs. I cleaned the carrots and sliced into sticks.

I nuked the potatoes, covered for 5 minutes and then got them and the meatloaf on at 5:30. I left the potatoes covered for 35 minutes then uncovered. About 6:20 the meatloaf was coming up to temp so went in and sautéed the carrots in some butter with a little ground cumin and coriander. At the last minute I added a little maple syrup to glaze the carrots.

At 6:30 the meatloaf was at 165 deg. IT so I brought it and the potatoes in. The grandson popped in from playing and decided to stay and eat so I set another plate for him. In all the hustle serving the cook kind of got the carrots overdone, scorched, well I burnt the darn things!

All tasted pretty good; we all liked the meatloaf. The grandson has it made if he happens to like what I am having he stays; but if he doesn’t he goes home to eat!


Ready to mix

A layer of potatoes w/sauce and cheese

Topped with another layer and panko bread crumbs

Ready for the smoker

All done

My Plate

Peach cream cheese pie for dessert

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Seasoning Cast Iron Cookware

I did this back in June and never got it posted here. I posted it on Let’s Talk BBG forum and thought some of you out there may be interested. I just did a Wapak 8 inch old hollow ware skillet and will post it also the next couple of days.

This is just my take on trying grape seed oil for the first time to season cast iron. I read a link to Sheryl Canter’s post using flax seed oil that was posted on lets Talk BBQ forum. Her method sounded good and the photos of some she did looked great

I set out to find flax seed oil since I wanted to try it. I could not find it; I finally checked a health food store and the lady said she could order it for me. She said it didn’t have a long shelf life so she didn’t carry it. It is also expensive at a dollar or more US per ounce.

I did some more research and decided I would try grape seed oil, the 16 oz. can I just bought was $5 at Krogers. It is good for two years and it has a smoke point of 420 deg. F.

In the old days lard was used to season cast iron and still works well. That is what I used on my first skillet. Some of the oils that are good to use are safflower oil, canola oil and vegetable oil. If you have a method you are happy with and it works for you stay with it. The main thing is to get a season that will last awhile and give you a non-stick skillet to use.

I don’t care for Pam canola spray; it gives a fast build up for me. I have been using vegetable oil. I clean my cast iron with hot water and a brush and sometimes use a scotch non-abrasive pad on them. At times when the seasoning starts to get a little dull looking I will put a light coat of oil on; set on a high burner and as soon as it starts to smoke set it off to cool down.

I had the perfect skillet to try grape seed oil on, a 12 inch marked 12 SK Made in the USA. I don’t remember where I bought it but I suspect it is a Lodge. I used it a few times outdoors on a gas burner. I gave it to a good neighbor friend to use and his son-in –law used it camping. After the neighbor died his wife gave the skillet back to me.

It was a mess and I scoured on it and got it down to bare metal. It had a large brown spot in the middle from gas flames that didn’t come off. I re-seasoned it a couple of times on the gas burner using Pam I think. At least this would keep it from rusting. It has hung in my shed a few years. I decided to use the grape seed oil and use it this summer.

I decided to run it through my self-cleaning oven to get all the seasoning off. While I was doing it I did the neighbors stoneware dish too and it came out looking like new. The skillet was really clean; it even took the brown burn spot out. If I had been smart enough to use the oven the first time I cleaned it I would have saved a lot of rubbing!

I am using Sheryl’s heating method to do my skillet, 6 thin coats, place in the oven and heat to 485 deg. F. for an hour then shut off and let cool. Why 485 deg.; not sure it just sounded good to me. I have had good results doing them at 350 deg. before.

I did the six seasonings in the oven and it got better with each seasoning. It ended up with a nice black color. Later I found the lid in my shed I didn’t remember having so I cleaned and re-seasoned it too. I have cooked with it several times now and it is non-stick and cleans up nice.

I am pretty well sold on seasoning at 485 to 500 deg. for an hour then turning the oven off and let cool. Wait at least 12 hours between each seasoning. Repeat this six times and you will have a great non-stick finish. I think this would work with any good oil, and you want a very thin coat applied. Do this by applying the oil and then wipe it all off; it will still have a thin coat.

The lid for the Lodge 12 inch was done later. I didn’t remember having it but found it in my shed and ran it in the self-cleaning oven and re-seasoned it too.

Before the self-cleaning oven

After self-cleaning

After six seasonings

With the lid

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Brunch, Bacon, eggs, English muffin and Gravy

Oct 26 2013

I had some good Kah Meats bacon and I wanted to christen my re-seasoned Wapak skillet. Nothing too exciting here but it makes an easy breakfast or brunch. I used Pioneer brand gravy mix; it is much easier than doing my own and tastes as good as I can make. It is less fattening too.  I had some toasted English muffins, southern gravy over, a couple slices of the bacon, two eggs and topped with more gravy. I had to have more bacon on the side and a glass of buttermilk. Tasted great!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Brisket Sandwich

Oct 10 2013

My wife is doing fine with her new knees but now has an indigestion problem. Last night I made her some baked frozen fish with some veggie rice. For myself I had one of the best brisket sandwiches in a long time. Toasted Italian seasoned ciabata buns, some Lowensenf mustard, slices of my fermented hot dill pickles, a generous amount of brisket and topped w/provolone melted under the broiler. I had some left over pasta as a side. That sandwich sure hit the spot! It was like having all end pieces in the sandwich.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Beef Brisket a Different Way

Oct 19 2013

Ever since I read this recipe at 52food.com by Nach Waxman I wanted to try it. His idea was to use natural juices from onions, a carrot and tomato sauce to flavor the brisket. He used a 4 to 5 pound brisket flat and did it in the oven in a covered casserole. Basically he browned the brisket in a skillet, removed, then sliced 6 to 8onions thick and browned some in the skillet. He placed the onions in a casserole dish just large enough to hold the brisket, covered the brisket with tomato sauce, added one carrot, covered and in a 350 deg. preheated oven for 1 ½ hours. He removed the brisket and sliced thinly and then back in the casserole as if it were still whole. It is easier to slice if not quite done.

It then went back in the oven, covered for 2 more hours, basting several times and adding a little water if needed. It is then served and every piece tastes like an end piece; and it’s supposed to be better the second day.

I had my 12 inch cast iron skillet w/lid I wanted to do the brisket in. For my sides I had some Jacob’s cattleman’s beans to try for the first time and would make some baked beans in my cast iron bean pot.
I also had plenty of cauliflower to use up so I made baked cauliflower in my 8 inch Lodge cast iron skillet.
I melted a little butter in the skillet, added the cauliflower, and drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with smoked paprika, ground coriander seeds, salt and pepper.

I wanted to smoke the brisket for an hour first then follow the recipe. I was cooking all in cast iron and wanted to do it all in my Traeger. Problem number one was my second shelf would not fit with the covered skillet in the smoker so I would have to do the sides inside.

Problem number two was my sides were too done. The beans were overdone and mushy but had a good flavor; the cauliflower was a little overdone and had too much oil on it for me.

The brisket was great and my sandwich on an Italian seasoned roll hit the spot; at least one thing turned out good! It’s not a smoked brisket but I will definitely do this again. This winter if the weather is bad and you are hungry for a good brisket sandwich; stay inside and try this.
The cattlemens beans

Trimmed and ready to smoke

After smoking and searing

In my skillet

Tomato paste added

After 1 1/2 hours, ready to slice

My new Cutco slicing knife


Ready to serve

Cauliflower ready to bake

All done

My Plate

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spare Ribs with 2 Rubs and 2 Sauces

Oct 14 2013

It’s been a busy week end here. Even though my wife’s new knees and legs get stronger every day; I am still pretty much doing all the work. Our daughter came home for the week end from the Chicago area. The grandson’s 9th birthday was today and his Mom’s is tomorrow.

Saturday they had a birthday party at their home. A lot of people, both in laws and cousins, Gavin’s soccer team plus kids! They had pizza, & glad I didn’t have to cook, didn’t have time anyway. The party was from 12:30 until 3:00. Gavin’s team had a game at 4:30. Sunday the kids were in and out to visit and our daughter left at 4:00 to go home.

I had some spare ribs to do today, the wife had therapy at 1:30 and I need to get the yard done before rain comes in tomorrow night.

I trimmed the ribs and cut in half; I had a pound of good meaty trimmings to do. I had some Rufus Teague’s rub and some Walnut Creek chipotle apple butter sauce for my half of ribs. For my wife’s half I did my usual Penzey’s Galena Street rub and Kah Meats BBQ sauce.

The ribs were wet down with some red wine vinegar and the rubs then in plastic bags and in the fridge overnight.  I decided to go with2-2-1 for the ribs. Two hours of smoke at 180 deg., then in foil drizzled with some Hoppin Helles for two hours at 225 deg. and one hour with sauce to finish.  

I got the ribs on at 1:00 then took the wife to therapy at 1:30; back to watch the ribs until picking the wife up at 2:30. I mowed half the grass; I’ll try to get the other half tomorrow. I baked a take home and bake baguette and then put the potatoes in to bake and finish at 6:00.

When I took the ribs out of the foil at 5:00 they were done then, just needed firmed up but I had to wait on the potatoes. The 225 deg. setting was running about 240 and 260 at grill level so I left it there and sauced the ribs the last 40 minutes.

I served the wife her ribs along with the potato, a salad and bread. My wife said her ribs were perfect. I liked the rub and sauce on mine. I thought they might be too hot for me but were just right. After looking at some great ribs at LTBBQ over the week end; the ribs made me Happy!

After we just got done eating the daughter in law and grandson come with some of her giant birthday cookie and ice cream to have. Our son came later after High School soccer game and had ribs and potatoes. I ate some of the cookie then conked out in the lay back!

They had their cookie and ice cream and thanks much to the daughter in law for helping the wife clean up my kitchen!!

Ribs and Rubs

After the fridge, I added more rub

After 2 hours of smoke

A half after foil for 2 hours

Ribs ready to sauce and I pulled the trimmings off

Saving the trimmings for beans later

Ribs are done

Ready to serve

My wife's plate

My supper