So far both types of peas, the Swiss chard, Chocolate Cherry tomatoes and Stupice tomatoes are growing rapidly and I am eyeing my garden with concern. Once I start planting, I always realize that it is not as large as I think it is.
I came home from work the other day to find that I had left my oven broiler on all day. I store my cast iron skillets in the oven and, sadly, the lovely patina and seasoning that I have worked into them for the last dozen years had all been turned to soot! It broke my heart!
Once that happens to cast iron, you just have to start all over again. Still wearing my office clothes, I started scrubbing the sooty patches and rust spots out with steel wool and a steel brush. Once the seasoning gets burnt out of pan it opens up the cast iron to rust immediately. It's like it sucks the oxidation right into the metal instantly. You have to scrub out the left over seasoning, otherwise it makes the cooking surface uneven, and of course no one wants to taste rust. Scrub the pan inside and out. Make sure to remove the seasoning from the outside of the pan as well.
Doing it this way is labor intensive, but I like the feeling of accomplishment I get when I get uncommon jobs, like scrubbing cast iron skillets, done. Go figure.
Once you have got the surface well cleaned, wipe the surface clean with a just barely damp cloth. Make sure all the residue is wiped out. Otherwise, the first few things cooked in the pan will be black. After you have made sure to wipe the skillet clean, then you start seasoning.
Using a paper towel, spread a thin layer of fat all over the pan. I prefer bacon grease. You can usually find pork fat at your local butchers, but you can use vegetable oil/Crisco if you prefer. Everyone has an opinion. I like bacon grease, you can do whatever you want with your pan, I would recommend avoiding a fat with a low burn point, like butter, though. Just sayin...
I wipe the inside and outside of my skillet and then plop it into a hot oven, around 400 degrees and let the cast iron's pores soak in the oil. You need a few layers of seasoning on a pan for it to be truly stick-proof, but you don't have to do it all at once. Next time you cook something in the oven, grease the pan and throw it in the oven during pre-heat and cool-down. When you use the skillet next, rinse it with hot water and use mild soap, make sure to rinse it well, dry it well and grease it up again.
I am kicking myself in the ass for not taking pictures of the process and will be better about keeping the camera close at hand when opportunities like this arise in the future.
There are hundreds of how's and why-fors on the Internet on how to re-season a cast iron pan and each one is different but most say something about cleaning out the rust and spreading grease on it. Some say stick it in the oven at 500 degrees for 3 hours some say to put it in a warm oven for 1 hour. Truthfully, either will work depending on how much time you want to spend on it. Do what works for you.
And, now, for something completely different. I know why you all really came looking on here...
I will tell you about cleaning up the raccoon (evil little bio-hazards!) latrine on the next installment, I still have to take a few more blazing hot showers before I can bring myself to talk about it... *shudder*