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    A tortilla press and a cast iron griddle

    What do a tortilla press and a cast iron griddle have in common. In this case they are from the same company -- of Chinese manufacture. Sigh! -- and one is a piece of garbage and the other is just fine.

    The wife grew us making corn and flour tortillas and then for a variety of reasons stopped doing that nearly thirty years ago. For another set of reasons, of late I have been interested in trying my hand at producing both types of tortillas and pita bread. Sooooooo . . . off we sent for a deluxe style cast iron tortilla press able to produce eight inch in diameter tortillas if one were so of a mind. It arrived a few days ago and I took one look at it, recalled when I took a welding course at the local community college, remembered how brittle cast iron is in comparison to steel and said to myself, "I bet the first time I use this press the handle is going to snap."

    I used the press for the first time this morning and the handle immediately snapped off. Have I said "Sigh"? Sigh!

    So anyway I used a trusty rolling pin and flattened a few corn tortilla dough balls into reasonable renditions of flats disks and tried using a steel skillet. It worked after a fashion, although I am NOT going to continue using an expensive Calphalon brand skillet for tortilla cookery as it was freaking difficult to clean up after the fact. But the corn tortilla experiment was a success; meaning that operation Tortillas Production is now off and running.

    To the local Hispanic dedicated super market we go -- or rather we went about an hour ago -- and what do we find? A bunch of cast iron tortilla presses ranging from small capacity to six and eight inches in diameter capacity and also the exact same type that I broke this morning, but -- and here's the part that made me laugh and my wife curse -- for half the cost of what we sent off for. Anyway I selected a style with a better looking handle and we shall see what we see in that regard in the morning. It looks to me like it is likely to last for a while.

    Now to the cast iron griddle, which we also purchased in the super market. Now I grew up using cast iron skillets because I grew up poor and cast iron was what poor people cooked with. That said my mother's skillets never had to be seasoned because she always used oil in them anyway. Well in my neck of the woods, that was how poor people ate. You fried everything that wasn't boiled or baked. Saute? What the hell is that?

    But times, they have changed, and this gray-haired old fart is trying to change with them. So I read the directions. Ah . . . you season a cast iron skillet -- thus making it naturally non-stick in nature -- by coating its surface in vegetable oil and then baking the skillet at 300 degrees for one hour; a time that still has about thirty minutes left to go as I finish typing this missive.

    I will add one more thing; I don't like store bought corn tortillas and living as I do in Texas one can find them EVERYWHERE. But they always taste rubbery to me and taste of -- gasp -- corn. Rubbery tasting corn is not my thing. Thus I was not real keen on the idea of producing corn tortillas. So I got the best corn tortilla flour I could find (White Wing) and gave it a shot this morning and . . . it . . . is . . . delicious, and not rubbery and not even particularly tasting of corn. Nice!

    As for cooking technique my wife shook her head this morning, smiled gently and said, "Not to worry. What does an Italian-American know about producing tortillas anyway? Keep working at it and you'll do just fine . . . some day."

    Gotta love it!
    Last edited by Cedric; 09-06-2015 at 06:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    What do a tortilla press and a cast iron griddle have in common. In this case they are from the same company -- of Chinese manufacture. Sigh! -- and one is a piece of garbage and the other is just fine.

    The wife grew us making corn and flour tortillas and then for a variety of reasons stopped doing that nearly thirty years ago. For another set of reasons, of late I have been interested in trying my hand at producing both types of tortillas and pita bread. Sooooooo . . . off we sent for a deluxe style cast iron tortilla press able to produce eight inch in diameter tortillas if one were so of a mind. It arrived a few days ago and I took one look at it, recalled when I took a welding course at the local community college, remembered how brittle cast iron is in comparison to steel and said to myself, "I bet the first time I use this press the handle is going to snap."

    I used the press for the first time this morning and the handle immediately snapped off. Have I said "Sigh"? Sigh!

    So anyway I used a trusty rolling pin and flattened a few corn tortilla dough balls into reasonable renditions of flats disks and tried using a steel skillet. It worked after a fashion, although I am NOT going to continue using an expensive Calphalon brand skillet for tortilla cookery as it was freaking difficult to clean up after the fact. But the corn tortilla experiment was a success; meaning that operation Tortillas Production is now off and running.

    To the local Hispanic dedicated super market we go -- or rather we went about an hour ago -- and what do we find? A bunch of cast iron tortilla presses ranging from small capacity to six and eight inches in diameter capacity and also the exact same type that I broke this morning, but -- and here's the part that made me laugh and my wife curse -- for half the cost of what we sent off for. Anyway I selected a style with a better looking handle and we shall see what we see in that regard in the morning. It looks to me like it is likely to last for a while.

    Now to the cast iron griddle, which we also purchased in the super market. Now I grew up using cast iron skillets because I grew up poor and cast iron was what poor people cooked with. That said my mother's skillets never had to be seasoned because she always used oil in them anyway. Well in my neck of the woods, that was how poor people ate. You fried everything that wasn't boiled or baked. Saute? What the hell is that?

    But times, they have changed, and this gray-haired old fart is trying to change with them. So I read the directions. Ah . . . you season a cast iron skillet -- thus making it naturally non-stick in nature -- by coating its surface in vegetable oil and then baking the skillet at 300 degrees for one hour; a time that still has about thirty minutes left to go as I finish typing this missive.

    I will add one more thing; I don't like store bought corn tortillas and living as I do in Texas one can find them EVERYWHERE. But they always taste rubbery to me and taste of -- gasp -- corn. Rubbery tasting corn is not my thing. Thus I was not real keen on the idea of producing corn tortillas. So I got the best corn tortilla flour I could find (White Wing) and gave it a shot this morning and . . . it . . . is . . . delicious, and not rubbery and not even particularly tasting of corn. Nice!

    As for cooking technique my wife shook her head this morning, smiled gently and said, "Not to worry. What does an Italian-American know about producing tortillas anyway? Keep working at it and you'll do just fine . . . some day."

    Gotta love it!
    Had a Chinese flat top that goes over two burners. First you need to heat it covered with paper towels to remove the protective grease. Read about seasoning it for use before you actually use it and that was by baking it for a certain amount of time (something like 20 minutes) at 500 in the oven a number of times letting it cool inbetween after wiping it with an oil so I tried it. The best non stick oil to use to season it was flax oil after testing for non-stick after seasoning. I didn't have any flax oil so just used veg oil.

    After doing that it turned the nice black color.

    I have an old skillet that I cook most everything in after my non-stick pans all wore out. I often just use olive oil or butter to cook with. Some things stick a bit but never really a problem. Julia Child once said that cast iron skillets were the first non-stick pans. Some of the older people I know that used them in the past don't use them anymore because of the weight.

    One think I learned is that meat will unstick when it is ready and you shouldn't try to unstick it before. Also, cooking fish to get a crispier skin works better in a modern non-stick pan or you would have to use much more heat causing oil smoke in a cast iron pan.
    Last edited by hoosier8; 09-06-2015 at 06:54 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoosier8 View Post
    Had a Chinese flat top that goes over two burners. First you need to heat it covered with paper towels to remove the protective grease. Read about seasoning it for use before you actually use it and that was by baking it for a certain amount of time (something like 20 minutes) at 500 in the oven a number of times letting it cool inbetween after wiping it with an oil so I tried it. The best non stick oil to use to season it was flax oil after testing for non-stick after seasoning. I didn't have any flax oil so just used veg oil.

    After doing that it turned the nice black color.

    I have an old skillet that I cook most everything in after my non-stick pans all wore out. I often just use olive oil or butter to cook with. Some things stick a bit but never really a problem. Julia Child once said that cast iron skillets were the first non-stick pans. Some of the older people I know that used them in the past don't use them anymore because of the weight.

    One think I learned is that meat will unstick when it is ready and you shouldn't try to unstick it before. Also, cooking fish to get a crispier skin works better in a modern non-stick pan or you would have to use much more heat causing oil smoke in a cast iron pan.
    Thanks. That's good to know information. Yeah these buggers are freaking heavy and one can't handle them as casually as you can with stainless steel; which means no direct water immersion after cooking, not unless one wants to see one's cast iron whatever . . . crack.

    Oh, and this skillet was already seasoned. But after reading the directions that came with it -- about how one needs to periodically re-season them -- I decided to go ahead and do that as a precaution before cooking with it for the first time.
    Last edited by Cedric; 09-06-2015 at 07:00 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    What do a tortilla press and a cast iron griddle have in common. In this case they are from the same company -- of Chinese manufacture. Sigh! -- and one is a piece of garbage and the other is just fine.

    The wife grew us making corn and flour tortillas and then for a variety of reasons stopped doing that nearly thirty years ago. For another set of reasons, of late I have been interested in trying my hand at producing both types of tortillas and pita bread. Sooooooo . . . off we sent for a deluxe style cast iron tortilla press able to produce eight inch in diameter tortillas if one were so of a mind. It arrived a few days ago and I took one look at it, recalled when I took a welding course at the local community college, remembered how brittle cast iron is in comparison to steel and said to myself, "I bet the first time I use this press the handle is going to snap."

    I used the press for the first time this morning and the handle immediately snapped off. Have I said "Sigh"? Sigh!

    So anyway I used a trusty rolling pin and flattened a few corn tortilla dough balls into reasonable renditions of flats disks and tried using a steel skillet. It worked after a fashion, although I am NOT going to continue using an expensive Calphalon brand skillet for tortilla cookery as it was freaking difficult to clean up after the fact. But the corn tortilla experiment was a success; meaning that operation Tortillas Production is now off and running.

    To the local Hispanic dedicated super market we go -- or rather we went about an hour ago -- and what do we find? A bunch of cast iron tortilla presses ranging from small capacity to six and eight inches in diameter capacity and also the exact same type that I broke this morning, but -- and here's the part that made me laugh and my wife curse -- for half the cost of what we sent off for. Anyway I selected a style with a better looking handle and we shall see what we see in that regard in the morning. It looks to me like it is likely to last for a while.

    Now to the cast iron griddle, which we also purchased in the super market. Now I grew up using cast iron skillets because I grew up poor and cast iron was what poor people cooked with. That said my mother's skillets never had to be seasoned because she always used oil in them anyway. Well in my neck of the woods, that was how poor people ate. You fried everything that wasn't boiled or baked. Saute? What the hell is that?

    But times, they have changed, and this gray-haired old fart is trying to change with them. So I read the directions. Ah . . . you season a cast iron skillet -- thus making it naturally non-stick in nature -- by coating its surface in vegetable oil and then baking the skillet at 300 degrees for one hour; a time that still has about thirty minutes left to go as I finish typing this missive.

    I will add one more thing; I don't like store bought corn tortillas and living as I do in Texas one can find them EVERYWHERE. But they always taste rubbery to me and taste of -- gasp -- corn. Rubbery tasting corn is not my thing. Thus I was not real keen on the idea of producing corn tortillas. So I got the best corn tortilla flour I could find (White Wing) and gave it a shot this morning and . . . it . . . is . . . delicious, and not rubbery and not even particularly tasting of corn. Nice!

    As for cooking technique my wife shook her head this morning, smiled gently and said, "Not to worry. What does an Italian-American know about producing tortillas anyway? Keep working at it and you'll do just fine . . . some day."

    Gotta love it!
    Before you season today's cast skillets and Dutch ovens you should turn them upside down and heat the piss out of them. Especially if they are not Lodge brand and imported. They are coated with wax, if you're lucky but usually cosmoline. This keeps them from rusting. Its a good idea to put them on an open fire or the BBQ pit upside down until you burn that off. You can leave the item right side up and watch the Cosmoline pool in the center and then wipe it clean with a paper towel but I prefer to burn it all off before I start seasoning the pot.
    Nothing cooks like a good cast iron pot. Not even Magnalite.
    Enjoy the masa!
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkTheSlayer View Post
    Before you season today's cast skillets and Dutch ovens you should turn them upside down and heat the piss out of them. Especially if they are not Lodge brand and imported. They are coated with wax, if you're lucky but usually cosmoline. This keeps them from rusting. Its a good idea to put them on an open fire or the BBQ pit upside down until you burn that off. You can leave the item right side up and watch the Cosmoline pool in the center and then wipe it clean with a paper towel but I prefer to burn it all off before I start seasoning the pot.
    Nothing cooks like a good cast iron pot. Not even Magnalite.
    Enjoy the masa!

    Thanks much for the information. You are right about the Cosmoline of course, but fortunately this griddle was already seasoned and ready for use; a fact that I forgot to mention. So what I am actually doing as I type this is re-seasoning it as a precaution. I am looking forward to cooking with it tomorrow morning. I haven't used a cast iron anything for cooking with since my teens. So I'm sort of coming full circle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    Thanks. That's good to know information. Yeah these buggers are freaking heavy and one can't handle them as casually as you can with stainless steel; which means no direct water immersion after cooking, not unless one wants to see one's cast iron whatever . . . crack.

    Oh, and this skillet was already seasoned. But after reading the directions that came with it -- about how one needs to periodically re-season them -- I decided to go ahead and do that as a precaution before cooking with it for the first time.
    My Chinese items were not pre-seasoned but I actually clean my cast iron using oil and heat instead of water unless I really made a mess. If you use water, be sure to heat the pan with a light coat of oil before putting them away. I also do this with my steel Wok.

    The old pan I have is fine grained cast iron and really makes a nice surface to cook on. The Chinese ones are coarser. My Dutch Oven is Lodge and pre-seasoned and I like to use it to bake chicken and cook beans in. For beans and ham hocks, I cook them at 225 for 8 hours and they are amazing cooked that way.
    Last edited by hoosier8; 09-06-2015 at 07:10 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hoosier8 View Post
    My Chinese items were not pre-seasoned but I actually clean my cast iron using oil and heat instead of water unless I really made a mess. If you use water, be sure to heat the pan with a light coat of oil before putting them away. I also do this with my steel Wok.

    The old pan I have is fine grained cast iron and really makes a nice surface to cook on. The Chinese ones are coarser.
    Dad-gum, hooiser8, between you and HawkTheSlayer I am getting some darn good information here!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    Dad-gum, hooiser8, between you and HawkTheSlayer I am getting some darn good information here!
    There is some controversy over pans from China and about iron from any cast iron pan leaching into food but I really don't give a shyte and do what I want. I really like cast iron to cook with and use it almost exclusively anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cedric View Post
    Thanks much for the information. You are right about the Cosmoline of course, but fortunately this griddle was already seasoned and ready for use; a fact that I forgot to mention. So what I am actually doing as I type this is re-seasoning it as a precaution. I am looking forward to cooking with it tomorrow morning. I haven't used a cast iron anything for cooking with since my teens. So I'm sort of coming full circle.
    I have so many cast pots, ovens and skillets, its insane. Some were my grandmothers. I rarely use any of them today. One of my faves is an old Dutch oven with a recessed lid of about an inch. I still use it for outdoor cooking over an open fire. Its very efficient in that the top is made for the addition of coals. Every so often you scoop up some coals and pile them in the recessed lid cooking from both the bottom and top. Works great on a cold windy night when your sitting around the campfire enjoying a fermented carbonated beverage or three.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HawkTheSlayer View Post
    I have so many cast pots, ovens and skillets, its insane. Some were my grandmothers. I rarely use any of them today. One of my faves is an old Dutch oven with a recessed lid of about an inch. I still use it for outdoor cooking over an open fire. Its very efficient in that the top is made for the addition of coals. Every so often you scoop up some coals and pile them in the recessed lid cooking from both the bottom and top. Works great on a cold windy night when your sitting around the campfire enjoying a fermented carbonated beverage or three.

    Excellent! I have some old cookbooks that are always recommending the use of dutch ovens. Not having one I make due with ceramic casserole items with glass lids. Not the same by a long shot but the end results are tasty enough.
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