Restoring my Cast Iron Skillet

Somewhere along the way of moving to Thailand, my trusty cast iron skillet turned rusty.  That is a shame, because I really like cooking with it.  However, I adapted to not having it in my repertoire of pots and pans.  Recently, though, I’ve been thinking that there’s no point in letting it return to the elements.  With my induction stove, I really should be using quality pans like this one.


P1160343 This weekend, after reading up about cast iron restoration methods on the internet, I set aside some time Saturday morning to rescue my pan from oxidation oblivion. 

The process proved surprisingly simple.  Had I known how simple it was, I wouldn’t have waited so long.

Tools needed: gloves, metal scouring pad, coarse salt, vegetable oil, warm oven.

I started with the metal scouring pad and scoured the surface of the pan to remove most of the rust particles.  This only took a few minutes and would have been even easier if I had also used some sandpaper.

After wiping the particles into the trash, I heated the pan for a few minutes with two tablespoons of vegetable oil.  I then added enough coarse salt to make a paste, scouring with the metal pad to remove more of the rust and to scour down to a smooth surface.


Next step was to wipe the pan with paper towels until the towels no longer stained brown.  This took a lot of paper towels, but eventually they came out clean.  I did one last wipe with a damp paper towel to make sure no salt residue was in the pan, then popped it into the oven for just a few minutes.

Below: Tawn captures the look of extreme concentration on my face while I scour.


After a few minutes drying in the oven, I added another tablespoon of oil and, using paper towels, spread it in a thin, even film all over the surface and sides of the pan.


I then returned the pan to the oven (at about 300 F) upside down and let it bake for an hour, until the oil “set” on the pan.  From here on out, it is no soapy water to clean this pan.  Wipe it out with paper towels, use a little salt if scouring is needed, and then apply another thin film of oil.  Over time, it will become a strongly seasoned pan that should be nearly as nonstick as anything at the store.

How’s that for a handy weekend?


Playing the Handyman

Well, the handyman flaked out yesterday afternoon.  Said that he went to the hardware store and they didn’t have the type of pipe he needed so he had to order it.  And he can be here next Thursday.  Tawn said that wasn’t okay, so the handyman said he could be here on Sunday.  Sounds a little suspicious.  Well, no home-washed clothes tonight.

In an intrepid attempt to be handy myself, I did some hardware installation today.  First up were some nice polished nickel hooks for the back of the bathroom doors.  I discovered that the doors are not as wide as the drill bit I was using to drill a pilot hole.  One of the doors now has both an entry and exit wound.  I’ll have to patch that up – or maybe we can hang a calendar there.  After all, it is the door that faces the kitchen and living area. 

Next up, I installed door stops.  We have several doors that just go slamming into walls or other doors.  Ah – but nobody in Thailand seems to sell those spring-type door stops that attach to the doors themselves.  So I purchased some in the United States and brought them over with me. 

The first one installed very easily.  Feeling quite satisfied with my handyman skills, I continued to what was behind door number two.  I don’t know what type of wood the second door is made of, petrified wood perhaps, but I could only get the pilot hole drilled about 1 cm (1/4 inch) into the door. 

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  “Better than drilling the hole all the way through the bloody door!”  Yes, yes.  So I decided to start screwing the doorstop into the door.

It grew increasingly difficult and after getting about three-quarters of the screw into the door, the Phillips slot at the top of the screw was beginning to get stripped. 

Then, with one last effort, I tried to turn the screw and the top of it snapped off! 

So I moved on to door number three.  The lower corner of that door was quite solid, too, so I moved a little higher and a little further from the edge.  Finally, I found a softer spot and was able to install the door stop.  A second attempt on the previous door was successful, again because I was willing to think “outside the box” or, more correctly, “away from the edges.”  

Feeling truly like I was channelling Bob Vila, I proceeded to change drill bits.  Tightening the cement bit with the bit key (you may be in understandable awe of the masterful way I casually throw around these technical drilling terms) I decided to tackle the project of hanging a mirror in the entryway.  The entryway is also the kitchen.  And the entire living room. 

One of the interesting things about contemporary Thai construction is the thoroughly consistent use of cement in the walls.  Perhaps because of the humidity or the adobe-like insulating qualities of cement, but cement construction is de rigeur.  It makes the hanging of pictures somewhat challenging. 

Undaunted, I proceeded to drill a hole into the wall with deceptive ease.  It wasn’t until I hit something solid – really solid – that I started to get worried.  I tried several different things until it occurred to me to see whether the plastic sleeve (don’t know the technical term) for the screw would fit.  The hole was not wide enough for the sleeve, so the depth of the hole was not an issue.  Then I tried to put one of the screws in to see whether what I was running into was metallic or just really hard cement. 

Long story short, it took me about five minutes before I realized that, since the hold was deep enough for the entire screw to fit into it, it didn’t really matter whether the obstacle was metal, mineral, animal, imaginary, or anything else.  All I needed to do was widen the hole so the plastic sleeve would fit.  Which I proceeded to do.  There is now a lovely mirror hanging in our entryway, hanging on a very professionally mounted screw securely anchored to the wall by a plastic sleeve which, come to think of it, may be called a “wall anchor.” 

It is probably worth mentioning that in the process of figuring things out, I decided that I should drill a second hole, a little lower and a little to the left of the original one, figuring that I would probably not hit whatever obstacle I encountered in the first hole.  So if you come visit us you can take the mirror off the wall and gaze upon the second, superfluous hole, and comment upon my amazing do-it-myself talents which should probably be allowed to lie dormant.

Did I mention that also on my project list for this weekend is to hang a bamboo shade on the edge of my balcony, above the railing?


Yesterday evening Tawn and I went to the Emporium shopping center (actually, I think it is a department store, not the entire center) to watch Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride at the SFX Cinema.  It was presented on a Christie Digital Projector, which was the first time I had seen a movie on a Christie DP. 

The movie was a lot of fun.  The story line reminded me loosely of the love story from Les Miserables without the revolution or barricades.  The animation was lovely and Danny Elfman’s score was, as always, a perfectly blend of gothic darkness and beauty.

On my way to the theatre at dusk, I snapped a couple of photos of the Skytrain that I think turned out pretty well.  I’ve started carrying my digital camera, a Fujifilm FinePix E510, with my just about everywhere because there are many interesting things to see in this city.  Plus, I was given advice that too much text in a blog doesn’t appeal to the audience.  At least, it doesn’t appeal to the short attention span audience!