A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


February 27, 2012

Cast Iron and Dutch Oven Cooking

     I remember them well...... heavy and black, well-used, and hanging from the pot rack above my grandmother's stove.  As a child, I regarded them as old-fashioned; relics to be cast aside in favor of electric skillets and then teflon and stainless steel.  They didn't have an exotic name like Cuisinart.  They were passed down from my grandmother, to my mom, and to me.  They stayed packed away until my common sense and the state of the world awoke me to their inherent worth and value.
     I'm talking about cast iron.  And I'm talking about durability and reliability.  You can fry on top of the stove or bake in the oven.  And if faced with an emergency situation, they transition nicely to a wood-burning stove or a campfire.  Try doing that with your fancy modern skillet!  Cast-iron cookware comes in a variety of styles:  dutch ovens, various sizes of skillets and frying pans,  deep fryers, woks, flat-top grills, and griddles.
     I have an old cookbook that I claimed from the printing company where I used to work; a small paperback called Yesterday and Today: The Best of Chuck-Wagon Cooking.  I never in a million years thought it would become one of my most prized possessions, OR that I would ever really find a use for the recipes inside.  If the SHTF, we will be dining on the likes of Beef Tenderloin, Sauteed New Potatoes, Chicken-Fried Steak, Corn Casserole with Green Chilies and Cheese, Stir-Fry Ranch Vegetables, Angel Flake Biscuits, Apple Crisp and Blackberry or Peach Cobbler...take your pick!
     One of my most favorite recipes is the one for good old-fashioned cornbread.  Made from scratch, my husband refuses to eat any cornbread other than this recipe and baked in our cast-iron skillet.  No packaged cornbread for him!  (The secret is the small amount of sugar added to the batter.)
     There are several brands out there to choose from, but the only one I ever buy is Lodge.  We have been known to scour antique stores for old Griswolds, too.  They are few and far between, but you've got a treasure if you're lucky enough to come across one.
     But perhaps the best use for cast iron when TEOTWAWKI happens, is its' use to bake bread.  Bread is one of the staples of our diet, and without electricity, practically the only way you can bake bread is in a Dutch oven in the coals of a hot fire.  I have not experimented with whole wheat or artisan bread, so maybe some of you out there can enlighten the rest of us if you have baked in a cast iron oven.  Sourdough bread is an easy and tasty alternative.  You can make small loafs or ball into biscuits.  Either way you have bread for your meal.
     You might have a generator to run your bread-baking machine, but as for me, I'm going to rely on the time-tested method of Dutch Oven baking.  Here's the recipe.  Tuck it away for the near future.  I have a feeling it will come in handy.

SOURDOUGH BREAD

(Starter)
1 package yeast
 4 cups warm water
2 tbsp. sugar
4 cups flour

Dissolve yeast in water.  Add sugar and flour.  Let set for 2 days.

16-inch Dutch oven or cookie sheets
6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
5 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
9 tbsp. of liquid Crisco
6 cups of starter

Mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Make well in center of mix.  Add Crisco and starter.  Mix.
Put oven on half a shovel of coals and heat 15 minutes.  Take oven off coals and put lid near coals.  Coat oven in a thin layer of melted Crisco.  Place small loafs or biscuits in Dutch oven, touching each other so they will rise better.  Put on lid.  Set Dutch oven on trivet and place small shovel of coals around the trivet.  Put 2 shovels of coals on top of the lid.  Turn oven and make 1/2 turn every 5 minutes.  Turn lid and oven different directions.  Cook 10 minutes on the fire and 10 minutes off.  

     This will admittedly, take time and attention, and it is not always easy to regulate the heat.  But if you are in SHTF situation and you're hungry, I promise you this will taste like heaven.  Especially when served up with beef tips, acorn squash and a chocolate burrito! 

Job 23:12    "I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread."

  
     

6 comments:

  1. Hi Belle,
    Good for your husband. We also prefer cornbread baked in a cast iron skillet although I must shamefully admit I use a packaged mix. Pops right out of the pan and great served with ham and beans :)

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    Replies
    1. Ham and beans is a favorite of ours, too! There's still a chill in the air here, so we're going to have cornbread tonight!

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  2. I LOVE my cast iron. I have my great grandmothers, grandmothers and moms cast iron. Don't have Griswold but old Lodge and some Wagner. Most of the pieces I have are over 100 yrs old and still going strong.
    I did a tutorial on care of cast iron, I got several emails from people telling me they didn't like it as it rusts and is heavy and hard to take care of. I know a lot of it is called "lazy", my opinion personally.
    Thank you for posting your starter for sourdough. I started some yesterday, and I going to start a batch of your recipe and work in my my dutch oven and see how I get it to come out.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  3. I agree about the "lazy" part....just make it a habit to properly care for your cast iron after each use and rust is not a problem. I actually had a new friend bring me a gift the other day, and it was a Griswold they found in an antique store in Kansas. I think this friendship will last!

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  4. Great article. I have one each Griswold and Wagner. So... how about your cornbread recipe ?

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    Replies
    1. Morgan, stay tuned..... corn bread recipe and more is coming up the first of next week!

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