Sunday, April 26, 2009

Linguisa and Kale Soup with Potatoes and Chick Peas

Why am I making soup when it is almost May? Because it is freaking snowing again, that's why!
(I went snowshoeing yesterday when I'd rather be on my Mt. Bike) Besides the snow, I like it, and it is a good way to eat the greens we all know we should.
Linguisa is a Portuguese sausage that is one of my favorites.

Ingredients:

12 ounces Linguisa sausage

1 bunch kale, washed and ripped up
2 potatoes, cubed
2 carrots peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic
1 can chick peas (garbanzo beans)

1 chopped onion 

1 quart chicken stock

1 1/2 quarts water
salt and pepper
1 TBsp. paprika
olive oil
cayenne or red pepper flakes
In a big ass Dutch Oven brown the sliced Linguisa with the chopped onion until the onion softens.
Add your garlic and cook for a minute.

Add the stock, water, potatoes and chick peas. You'll have to take my word that all that stuff is in there. Cook at a low simmer until the potatoes are soft ~ 25-30 minutes.
Once the potatoes are cooked add the carrots (under the kale) and the kale. Kale wilts as it cooks so this is not an excessive amount.
After just a few minutes the kale shrinks down and everything looks good but you should cook this longer before eating it. Add the rest of the seasonings.
Partially cover and go do something else for a bit and let this cook. This will be another happy marriage of P-I-G and greens if you let it simmer for another 25 minutes or so.
Finished! I like this with some cayenne and some crusty bread or toast. My soups are always really chunky. If you like lots of broth add more chicken stock and water.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Buying Old Cast Iron on Ebay

Ebay can be a great source for old cast iron cookware (and just about anything else). Before you dive in it helps to know a few things.

1) What is the item really worth? Reference books are worth their cost if you'll buy two or more pieces of cast iron. One person I know lost an auction for a pan where his top bid was $135.00. I told him he was lucky he lost because the pan in question was worth much less than that.

2) Don't forget the shipping and insurance costs. Cast iron is heavy and often bulky so it can be expensive to ship. It is also brittle and may not survive the transit unless it is well packed so definitely get the package insured. If the seller does not offer insurance pass on the item no matter how great a deal you think you might get. Packaging is also critical. When I leave feedback I always comment on the packaging. Overkill is just about right when it comes to packing an item that will never be made again.

I have received items that were poorly packaged that arrived smashed. With insurance you don't lose money but a piece of history is still gone forever.

3) Don't get competitive! If some dope wants to pay too much for something let them go right ahead and do it. Have a firm price in mind when you decide to bid and do not exceed that price.

I think PT Barnum said "A fool and his money should be parted" and I'm cool with that.

4) Look at seller feedback ratings. If your item is being listed by a seller with a 100% satisfaction rating and they have sold thousands of items that seller is doing something right. Even the new listers should have good ratings and you should carefully read the buyer comments.

5) How clear are the photos? I like to see BIG photos (there are sites like Auctiva that host big photos for free) that are clear and well lit. The iron in the photos should not be oiled up and shiny. Seasoned and shiny is OK but oil can hide flaws.

If the photos are small and blurry pass on the item.

6) Grungy cast iron costs less. There are sellers who do a great job cleaning and doing an initial seasoning. This is time consuming and often involves setting up electrolysis tanks or lye baths. You should expect to pay more for a piece that has been reconditioned than one that has been collecting dust in the basement for 40 years.

If you are willing to do the work (it isn't hard and the steps required are on this site) you will save a bunch of money.

The last point I'll stress is geography plays a part in locating old cast iron. Americans living in the Midwest near Ohio and Pennsylvania (where most of the great old iron was made) probably don't need to use Ebay. Auctions and antique stores should have a good supply of nice old cast iron. Cast iron cookware is very highly regarded in the South and West so while there may be lots of iron pieces people tend to hold onto them.

And just in case anyone asks, I do not sell cast iron on Ebay.

Hope this helps.
Greg

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Griswold Cast Iron

Entire books have been written about Griswold cast iron. I haven't written a dedicated post about this company or their products because I could not decide where to begin.
Griswold cast iron is really sweet. There, that is my beginning.
Griswold cast iron's story began in Erie PA in 1868. Matthew Griswold and John Selden produced hardware items. In 1873 the company was formally named Selden & Griswold Manufacturing Co.
After a fire destroyed the foundry in 1885 a reorganization took place and the company was renamed to Griswold Manufacturing Co. The Griswold family retained ownership until 1947 when the firm was sold to an investment group. In 1957 the Griswold Mfg. Co. was sold twice resulting in Griswold's main competitor, Wagner Manufacturing, taking ownership of the name and trademarks.

Production of cast iron cookware began around 1880 under the ERIE brand.
In 1905 the brand name was changed to Griswold's ERIE and in 1906 the famous Griswold cross logo appeared.
This logo design is known as the Slant/ERIE and it dates from 1906 to 1912.
FYI - Any Griswold piece lacking the word Erie was produced in Wagner's Sidney Ohio plant.
This 100 year old Griswold #12 is getting happy with some Nueske's bacon. No show pieces in my collection - they earn their keep.
There is a crispness and a uniformity to the casting of an older Griswold that is certainly one of the reasons the name is so admired among collectors and users.
This logo design is known as the Slant/Erie PA U.S.A. (or EPU for short) and it dates from 1909-1929. These are my personal favorites.
This logo is known as the Block/Erie PA U.S.A. and these date from 1930-1939. Notice the lack of a heat ring that was seen on the older pieces.
This #8 is the pan that got me interested in old cast iron. I was happily using modern Lodge iron and then I bought this #8 and was immediately impressed. I have been collecting old iron ever since.
Some handle detail showing the difference between the generations.

This quick and dirty blast through Griswold history leaves out a lot of information. If you are interested in learning more I highly recommend you visit http://www.panman.com
This is David G. Smith's website and you can purchase his invaluable books (co-written with Chuck Wafford) directly from the author. David also sells fine old cast iron at very reasonable prices from this site.