3 Modern Cast Iron Skillets Worth Considering

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When you hear the phrase “modern cast iron,” you probably think about the Lodge cast iron that’s sold at WalMart, Bass Pro, bigger grocery stores, and even some Texas gas stations in my neck o’ the woods. Lodge is the brand of cast iron that I first bought when I decided to buy a skillet for camping. I had no idea what I was doing. No prior knowledge of cast iron, or how to cook with it. I had problems with food sticking to the surface of the skillet, and I ended up burning most meals. So the meals on that camping trip were (mostly) failures. I put that skillet away and never used it again. Several years later I married a woman whose grandmother had taught her how to cook with cast iron. The stories she told about her grandma’s cast iron — non-stick, easy to clean — didn’t go along with my experiences at all. What made the modern cast iron so different from vintage iron? We started researching for answers. It wasn’t long before we found the Vintage Cast Iron crowd and learned that if we wanted the ease and quality of the real cast iron experience, we’d have to start shopping antique stores and flea markets because when it comes to cast iron, they just don’t make ’em like they used to. We started buying vintage cast iron skillets. We were amazed at how light the old cast iron was, how smooth the cooking surface was, and how easy it was to maintain. So now every time I pass an antique store, flea market or estate sale I always stop and look for those old Griswold and Wagner skillets from the past. I truly enjoy cooking with them; much moreso than the modern non-stick skillets.

Looking back at the Lodge skillet that I originally bought to take camping, I’d say there was nothing actually wrong with it. Lodge makes a great product; it just wasn’t finished. Back in the old days, the cast iron cookware manufacturers — including Lodge — finished off their cookware by milling the cooking surface to a glassy-smooth finish. Why did they stop doing that? The sand-textured surface of a modern Lodge isn’t impossible to season, but it does take a very long time and plenty of patience. Why not mill the surface at the point of manufacture, and give those using it a head start? We want a smooth surface on every pan that we use. So, it seemed like we would be haunting antique stores forever in search of vintage cast iron cookware.

But recently I’ve been hearing about people who are designing and manufacturing their own modern cast iron skillets with smooth cooking surfaces, cool-touch handles, and multi-directional pour spouts. And these new cast iron pieces are nice! Now, I’ve gotta tell you that they aren’t cheap. Neither is vintage iron — unless you get lucky at a garage sale or an estate sale. But if you take care of it, cast iron cookware will last for many generations and can become cherished heirlooms. Consider the $80+ you spend on a new cast iron skillet to be an investment in a life-long love affair with cast iron cooking.

Here are at three modern manufacturers that make products comparable to vintage quality cast iron.

Finex Cast Iron Cookware

Finex Cast Iron SkilletFinex is a company out of Portland Oregon. Worked by a small team of self proclaimed perfectionists, their motives to produce a modern cast iron skillet were initially health related instead of cooking related.

Our journey began with the search for healthier cooking. We wanted a pan that wouldn’t leave toxic residue in our food. Cast iron cookware has been trusted in kitchens for centuries. However, we quickly found that the quality of today’s cast iron cookware didn’t measure up. We became obsessed with the intentional design, quality and craftsmanship of antique cast iron cookware—and we decided we would stop at nothing to bring that back to the U.S.A. But we didn’t want to just recreate the same high quality cast iron cookware—we wanted to reinvent it. – Finex

Their final skillet design is an over-engineered thing of beauty. The exterior walls of the skillet are an unusual octagon shape. While the actual super smooth cooking surface retains the typical round shape. The octagon shape provides a natural spout for pouring liquids out of the skillet, and since there are several angles on the skillet wall, you can pour from any angle that is comfortable for you. Another unique design element is the what they call the “speed cool” spring coil handle. This is not a new thing, it is just not typically seen on a cast iron skillet.

The Finex skillet is available in three different sizes 8″, 10″, and 12″. Beautiful cast iron lids are also available for each size. Out of the three makers mentioned the Finex skillets are the most expensive. The 10″ version, which is equivalent to the vintage #8, is $165. With the lid it is $200. Learn more at Finex USA.

Field Company

Field Company Cast Iron SkilletThe Field Company cast iron skillet is the closest I’ve seen to the vintage cast iron skillet design. The company was started by two brothers who were curious about how cast iron used to be made.

Initially, the Field Company was never meant to be a company. We started by wanting to understand all the secrets of cast iron. We love all the lore, but wanted real answers. We didn’t know if we would make fifty pans in a barn for friends and family or if we would end up creating a larger scale operation. – Field Company

The Field Company skillet design is based off of a 1930s era Wagner skillet that was given to them by their maternal grandmother. They made a few modifications like removing the pour spouts, making a different shaped handle to match their logo, and adding a small lip opposite the skillet handle to allow you to use two hands to hold. The thickness of the skillet is thicker on the bottom to allow proper heat transfer and thinner for the skillet side walls to reduce weight. Making it much lighter than the equivalent Lodge skillet.

As of now the Field Company skillet is only available in the #8 size. Price is $100. Learn more at Field Company.

Stargazer Cast Iron

Star Gazer Cast Iron SkilletStargazer Cast Iron was founded in 2015 by three old friends with a shared vision: creating the best cast iron cookware around.

It started with an obsession. Peter Huntley, professional designer and hobby cook, went searching for the perfect skillet and came up empty-handed. Dissatisfied with the options on the market, he turned to vintage cookware to find the quality he was looking for. After nearly a year of collecting, restoring, and cooking with vintage cast iron, he saw the untapped potential and decided it was time for something new. He created a unique cast iron skillet from the ground up: reimagined, redesigned, and revitalized. Huntley enlisted the help of two friends to bring the vision to life and Stargazer Cast Iron was born. – Stargazer Cast Iron

The Stargazer skillet design resembles a modern non-stick skillet more than the other three makers. It has a forked primary handle, a full handhold secondary handle, and a drip-free flared rim for easy pouring.

As of now the Stargazer skillet is only available in the #8 size. It is the least expensive skillet of the four at $80. Learn more at Stargazer Cast Iron.


I love cooking with cast iron. Being able to cook on a stove top, bake in the oven or cook on an open flame using the same skillet is incredible. You don’t have that same versatility with the typical non-stick skillets that most people use today. Finding, restoring and maintaining vintage cast iron is a skill set that I still employ, but it takes a while to learn. With modern cast iron makers like Finex, the Field Company, and Stargazer Cast Iron there are some great alternatives to hunting for, and restoring vintage iron.

Additional Cast Iron Makers and Resources

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7 Non-Traditional Methods of Cooking

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Regardless of whether you enjoy outdoor adventures, learning to cook without the convenience of electricity is an important survival skill. Knowing alternative cooking methods is fun for camping and back packing with friends, but it becomes vital in natural disasters or emergency situations when we find ourselves without power for an extended period of time.

The trick to making any of these methods reliable is practice. Practice each one a few times before you are in a bind. Attempting to figure out what works well and what is hard to use is increasingly more difficult when you are already tired, hungry, and–in the worst situations–scared.

7 Non-Traditional Methods of Cooking

By Fire

Fireside CookingThe most obvious, tried and true method is to cook over an open fire. However, unless you are something akin to an Eagle Scout, you likely won’t be able to start a fire with two sticks and a rock. Having reliable fire starting supplies on hand is essential. Always keep matches and at least one other fire starter, such as Bic lighter, in your camping supplies, emergency kits, and vehicles.

Make sure you demonstrate basic fire safety – have water nearby and create a ring of rocks around your fire pit. Also, be aware of burn ban areas; in times of drought, even the most carefully tended fires can quickly burn out of control.

A small grill grate and a few high heat pots, pans, or kettles will allow you to take your fireside cooking a little further. These items can be found at many outdoor adventure stores. Pick out a lightweight and smaller option for easy transport to your campsite, or for storage in your emergency kit.

Butane Stoves

These portable stoves are great for cooking when you are unable to build a fire, or simply do not want to go to the trouble of starting one. The butane canisters that power these small and portable stoves are relatively cheap and have a shelf life that is virtually indefinite. Stock up on a butane stove(s) and a few butane canisters to ensure you can cook with relative ease on a camping trip or in an emergency. A few of my favorites are the Mountain Series portable stoves from Camp Chef, which feature a lightweight but durable frame, and the Multi-Fuel Cooktops from CanCooker, known for their easy storage and ultra-quiet design.
Butane Stove CookingPortable Butane Stove

Fold-up Stove and Sterno Fuel

Sterno stoveAnother method to mirror conventional cooking without traditional appliances is with a small fold-up stove that can be heated with any canned fuel. The most commonly used fuel is Sterno. A fold-up stove can hold a sizeable pot of water without tipping over or collapsing, and they are also powerful enough to boil water in about 30 minutes! This comes in handy when wanting to make a large pot of soup or noodles, but they become lifesavers when clean water is unavailable for drinking, or for tending to cuts and small wounds.

Rocket Stoves

Rocket stoves allow you to create an efficient heat source with only a small amount of wood or fuel. They work by burning wood or other fuel sources, such as charcoal, inside of a small combustion chamber. The heat travels up the makeshift chimney keeping the temperature high while preventing direct contact between the flames and your food. Especially useful in emergency situations, rocket stoves can be made out of many different types of materials and into whatever size is needed.

Volcano Stoves

Volcano stoves are great for emergency situations due to their versatility and compatibility with nearly every type of fuel (propane, wood, charcoal, etc.). The stove itself is collapsible, making transportation and storage a breeze. In addition, the stove is relatively sturdy and can safely heat large pots or skillets in addition to providing the option to cook raw meat directly on the metal grates.

Kelly Kettle

The Kelly Kettle is perfect for boiling water quickly and efficiently. Once a small fire has started in the base, fill the kettle with water and place it on top of the base, then periodically drop dry twigs, leaves, scraps of paper, and even grass, down the chimney to keep the fire burning. While the Kelly Kettle is less than ideal for cooking a burger or hot dog, this kettle is perfect for a reliable and quick source of clean water that can be used for drinking, making coffee, soups, and more.

Car Engine

Car Engine - Non-Traditional Methods of CookingIn the most extreme of circumstances one must think outside of the box (or the car) during an emergency. In case of this, consider using your vehicle’s engine as a heat source. Just start the engine to warm it up, then place your food or liquid inside a metal container (or foil if you are lucky enough to have some) and on top of the engine to let it warm. You may be surprised how hot an engine surface gets in a very short amount of time.

One word of caution, make sure to fully assess your situation before burning precious gas to heat your food. Take advantage of an already hot engine if you can and have a plan for how much fuel your vehicle needs to get to your destination.

Practice Makes Perfect

Just like any other method of survival in emergency situations, you must practice at home with a cool and calm disposition. Waiting to try these methods for the first time in an emergency situation is asking for trouble! Practice these alternatives, carefully understand safety measures that can prevent injury, and you will be prepared for anything!

Author Bio: Bryan Koontz is CEO and Founder of Guidefitter, the online hub for guided hunting and fishing adventures, connecting outdoor enthusiasts with professional guides. The online community allows users to share their experiences and serves as a hub for sportspeople and outdoor adventurists. In his free time, Bryan enjoys fly fishing, hunting, and spending time outdoors with his Labrador retriever.

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60 of the Best Cast Iron Skillet Recipes

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More and more people are realizing the terrific advantages of cooking with cast iron, and you’ll find that people definitely have their own preferences. There are lots campfire chefs, dutch oven devotees, and griddle gurus, but here at Surviving Prepper we prefer our skillets. For us, the skillet is the ultimate cooking pan. We deep fry, grill, stir fry, saute, and bake with our skillets. We start ’em on the stove top, and finish ’em in the oven. We LOVE cooking with our cast iron skillets. And we’re constantly scouring the internet for inspiration about what new and tasty delicious meal we can create next. Here is a list of 60 of the Best Cast Iron Skillet Recipes that we’ve found so far.

Best Cast Iron Skillet Entree Recipes

perfect porterhouse steakProsciutto-Wrapped Chicken with AsparagusGrilled Honey and Browned Garlic Butter Salmon

  1. Perfect Porterhouse Steak – This is chef Bobby Flay’s recipe for the perfect Porterhouse steak. With a steak this thick, you need to season liberally; when Flay demonstrated for us, the surface of the meat was virtually white from salt.
  2. Butter-Basted, Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Steaks Recipe – Perfectly cooked butter-basted steak, with a deep brown crust flavored with aromatics.
  3. Skillet-Fried Chicken – This easy recipe for Southern fried chicken is the only one you’ll ever need.
  4. Classic Buffalo Hot Wings – Fried or grilled? Either way, these crispy hot wings bathed in classic buffalo sauce are perfect for game day parties and backyard barbecues.
  5. Skillet Deep Dish Pizza – This pizza is loaded with toppings and cheese and cooked in a skillet for a perfect, crispy crust.
  6. Brown Sugar Soy Sauce Salmon – Grilling doesn’t have to be all about red meat! A fresh cut of seafood is a healthy alternative to wow your family and friends.
  7. Skillet Chicken with Bacon and White Wine Sauce – Starting with small bite-sized pieces of salty bacon and sweet caramelized shallots, and ending with the fact that it’s going to have that golden, crispy chicken skin after the chicken is pan-fried a little bit before taking a nice oven-bath in the white wine pan sauce.
  8. The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish – Shrimp is delicious in itself, just add a few herbs and spices to make it perfect.
  9. Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Asparagus – This easy, show-stopper dinner is healthy to boot. Well I mean besides the cream. But the asparagus totally makes up for that.
  10. Rosemary Pork Chops – Who doesn’t love a good pork chop? Rosemary is a perfect partner for pork, and your cast iron skillet will give those chops a good sear.
  11. Cajun Blackened Catfish – This is a recipe from a very good Cajun friend who is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana.
  12. Huevos Rancheros – These Huevos Rancheros are pretty epic in the world of one pan dinners. Throw a bunch of tasty ingredients in a skillet, and crack some eggs into that rich, super flavorful sauce.
  13. Julia Child’s Creamy Chicken + Mushroom – Julia Child’s Creamy Chicken + Mushroom (also known as Supremes De Volaille Aux Champignons) is now lightened up! It takes less than 30 minutes to have this gourmet meal at your table — in one skillet — without any guilt.
  14. Browned Butter Honey Garlic Salmon – Salmon steaks panfried on Browned Butter infused with garlic and honey; then grilled/broiled for an extra 8 minutes for extra golden, crispy and caramelised finish.
  15. Black-Pepper-Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Chimichurri Sauce – A tangy condiment made with fresh herbs and garlic, chimichurri sauce is a traditional accompaniment to grilled meats in Argentina and pairs well with peppery steak.
  16. Southwestern Braised Lamb Shanks – Cranberries and chipotle chiles in adobo sauce impart a tangy-sweet and smoky flavor to these succulent braised lamb shanks.
  17. Cumin-Coriander Sirloin Steak – The combination of cumin, coriander, and ground red pepper create a tasty rub for the beef. Brown sugar aids caramelization
  18. Skillet Lemon Chicken with Olives and Herbs – Bright and flavorful, pan seared chicken breasts get tossed with green olives, lemon and fresh herbs then is finished in the oven.
  19. Quick and Easy Pizza Skillet – This quick and easy pizza skillet is like an amazing pan pizza baked and served in your favorite cast iron skillet, and it’s completely customizable!

Best Cast Iron Skillet Side Recipes

Garlic Parmesan Stuffed MushroomsCharred Summer VegetablesBaked Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Garlic Parmesan Stuffed Mushrooms – These cheesy, garlic stuffed mushroom caps are an easy game day crowd pleaser! Serve them warm from the oven and straight from the griddle.
  2. Crispy Baked Pasta With Mushrooms, Sausage, and Parmesan Cream Sauce Recipe – One-skillet meal fit for normal everyday folks who perhaps might occasionally feel like kings.
  3. Baked Macaroni and Cheese – Baked macaroni and cheese doesn’t have to be complicated with layers of ingredients to be the soul-warming food you crave.
  4. Schmaltz-Refried Pinto Beans – Most store-bought lard (the traditional fat in refried beans) is nearly flavorless, unlike chicken fat, which is delicious and readily available.
  5. Spinach & Cheese Breakfast Skillet – This 700-calorie hash-and-egg recipe is a big healthy breakfast.
  6. Hasselback Potato Skillet Bake – A perfect side dish that can also be served as an alternative to hash browns for breakfast.
  7. Roasted Brussels Sprouts – The sweet satisfaction of seeing this dyed-in-the-wool brussels sprouts avoider pick these roasted emerald jewels out of the pan and munch on them like candy.
  8. Skillet Macaroni and Broccoli and Mushrooms and Cheese – This mac ‘n’ cheese, adapted from the book “Real Food Has Curves” by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough, is quicker and easier to make than the classic casserole.
  9. Loaded Smashed Potato Skillet – This Loaded Smashed Potato Skillet has the flavors of loaded baked potatoes in one easy skillet dish. Perfect for a BBQ or even making on the BBQ.
  10. Four Cheese Baked Skillet Rigatoni – Incredible recipe! Perfect for a food induced coma.
  11. Umami Edamame – Umami Edamame healthy is a sweet, spicy, and oh so tasty snack that makes a perfect appetizer or side dish!
  12. Charred Summer Vegetables – Add the vegetables to a hot cast-iron skillet, cover, and cook 5 minutes without stirring so the natural sugars caramelize and add flavor.

Best Cast Iron Skillet Bread Recipes

olive rosemary pistachio focacciaBriggs Buttermilk Biscuitspepperoni pull apart garlic knots

  1. Easy No-Knead Olive-Rosemary Focaccia With Pistachios Recipe – This focaccia, topped with olives, rosemary, and pistachios, requires no kneading or stretching and results in a crisp, olive oil-scented crust and a puffy, moist, well-risen internal crumb with just the right amount of tender chew
  2. Briggs’ Buttermilk Biscuits – We love how the tops and bottoms of these biscuits are slightly crispy and the inside stays tender and flaky.
  3. Spicy Sausage and Cheddar Yeast Rolls – With his passion for bread, Bill Ryan, founder of the Louisiana Dutch Oven Society, is always looking for different ways to create a great tasting roll. After tasting your first one, you will quickly be grabbing for more!
  4. Easy Pull-Apart Pepperoni Garlic Knots Recipe – These pull-apart garlic knots are intensely flavored with pepperoni, red pepper flakes, garlic, and two types of cheeses, and have a moist, buttery crumb.
  5. Spotted Dog Irish Bread – I was SHOCKED to find out this wasn’t real Irish Soda Bread, but instead more commonly known as Spotted Dog.
  6. Irish Soda Bread in a Skillet – A basic version of Irish Soda Bread that is baked in a cast iron skillet.
  7. Butternut Squash Rolls Recipe – With their cheery yellow color and delicious aroma, these appealing buns will brighten your buffet table.
  8. Brown Butter Skillet Cornbread – This lightly sweet cornbread has a crunchy, buttery crust, which comes from baking it in a hot skillet.
  9. No Knead Rosemary Parmesan Skillet Bread – You can use whatever sturdy herbs or cheese you prefer. Dip the bread in oil & balsamic, slather with butter, or dip into a tomato sauce.
  10. 30 Minute Honey Whole Wheat Skillet Bread – Simply combine all the ingredients, all at once in one bowl, pour buttermilk over the top, stir until just moistened, and turn dough out into the skillet and bake. No kneading, no mixer, no dough hooks. Nothing fancy or complicated, and no tricky steps.
  11. Beer & Cheese Skillet Bread – This Beer & Cheese Skillet Bread recipe is super easy and delicious! Plus it requires minimal ingredients!

Best Cast Iron Skillet Desert Recipes

Iron-Skillet Peach CrispDeath by Chocolate Skillet BrownieCinnamon Roll Skillet Cake

  1. Skillet Apple Pie with Cinnamon Whipped Cream – Easy apple pie that will that will wow your guests every time.
  2. Skillet S’mores Dip – Melted chocolate and toasted marshmallows that stays warm inside the cast iron skillet and only takes 15 minutes to make.
  3. Homemade Apple Fritters – Soft homemade donut dough folded with apples and spices and fried in a cast iron skillet for a crispy exterior crust.
  4. Nutella Stuffed Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie – This buttery and gooey on the inside – crispy and set on the outside – Nutella stuffed magical pie of-a-chocolate-chip-cookie had all of us weak at the knees begging for more, desperately scraping each and every crumb directly outta the pan like we’d been starving for weeks.
  5. Iron-Skillet Peach Crisp – The season’s most swoon-worthy peaches get extra-caramelized thanks to this cast iron crisp.
  6. German Apple Pancake Recipe – Pretty dish that is always a hit with guests.
  7. Fudge Brownie Pie Recipe – Here’s a fun and festive way to serve brownies. Family and friends will love topping their pieces with whipped cream and strawberries.
  8. Milk Cake Recipe – This is a simple recipe—and you’ll be able to use your well-seasoned cast-iron skillet to make it. The result of your effort is a light, airy cake.
  9. Banana Skillet Upside-Down Cake Recipe – Sometimes I add drained maraschino cherries to this banana skillet dessert and serve it with a ice cream
  10. Gooey Texas Sheet Cake Skillet – I know making Texas Sheet Cake in a Skillet technically makes it NOT Texas Sheet Cake.
  11. Skillet Peach and Blueberry Cake – This Peach and Blueberry Cake is moist, sweetened with brown sugar, for great flavor and topped with a pretty peach and blueberry decoration.
  12. Guest-at-the-Doorstep Apple-Berry Charlotte – Classic Soviet cuisine abounded in nifty quick recipes for unexpected guests. This puffy dessert requires only sliced tart apples, a few handfuls of berries and a simple batter.
  13. Chocolate Churro Dip – When churros met Nutella, your world became a better place.
  14. Death by Chocolate Skillet Brownie – Chocolate is commonly called an aphrodisiac, and when you dig your spoon in a gooey, warm bite of this triple chocolate skillet brownie, you’ll totally know why.
  15. Gooey Sugar Cookie Caramel Pudding Cake – This Sugar Cookie Caramel Pudding Cake is a warm, sugar cookie cake sitting on top of a layer of gooey caramel!
  16. Easy, 30 minute Cinnamon Roll Skillet Cake – Simple, no-yeast, time saving cinnamon rolls made in a skillet and covered with a creamy glaze. This cinnamon roll skillet cake takes less than 10 minutes to assemble and is a crowd-pleasing dessert!
  17. Peanut Butter Swirl GF Brownies – This brownie is amazing on two levels: first, it utilizes a cast iron skillet for baking, which ensures an evenly crisp brownie crust and fudgy center. Second, the bake time is around the 35 minute mark, and you can wow guests at the end of the meal with a dessert everyone can dive into.
  18. Vanilla Sugar Skillet Cake – This Vanilla Sugar Skillet Cake Recipe is baked in a cast iron skillet and uses basic pantry ingredients. It’s light, moist and delicious!

Best Cast Iron Skillet Recipes?

Do you have a cast iron skillet recipe that you think people should know about? Send it to us and we will add it to this post!

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Why a Dutch Oven Should Be Part of Your Survival Kit

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If you’re one of those folks without power, heat, or warmth because of the recent snow storms, you probably know that you need a cooking tool that can bake, boil, fry and saute. It should also be able to function with a variety of heat sources, since you don’t know when the electricity might come back on.

My nomination for this wonder implement has been around for hundreds of years. It’s easy to find, cheap and effective. Go get a cast iron Dutch oven. This cooking tool has a proven track record, and it can use virtually any heat source.

Survival with the Dutch oven

Hurricane Katrina was due to hit land in a few hours, and my relatives in Mississippi, about 150 miles north of New Orleans, weren’t sure what was going to happen. I overheard my wife talking on the phone to her sister, Patti, of Clinton, Mississippi. In the middle of the hurricane preparation discussion, they started talking about recipes and what to cook, using a cast iron Dutch oven!

Everyone near Katrina faced a potential power outage that could last indefinitely. There was a discussion of evacuating, versus staying put. Among the urban survival necessities in any natural disaster is a way to cook and purify water by boiling, and a Dutch oven serves this purpose beautifully.

We had given Patti a hand-me-down cast iron camp oven with the lipped lid and three legs. Designed to be heated on top and bottom with campfire coals or charcoal, the camp oven was considered a necessity on the American frontier for at least two centuries. That type oven was taken on the Lewis and Clark expedition, was used by travelers on the Oregon trail, who surely used it to cook foods on this list. The oven was indispensable in countless cabins, lean-tos and soddies.

Firepans are a critical part of your Dutch oven survival kit. They allow you to cook on snow or damp ground without putting out the coals.

Technically, a “Dutch” oven has a rounded top and  no legs and can be used in a conventional oven on top of a stove, or on an outdoor propane fish cooker of grill. Here is an example of this style of oven.

Today, a camp oven is on my short list of tools for my disaster survival kit. And if you’re one of the people stranded at home because of the record snows, or are anticipating some sort of disaster, you need a Dutch oven, too.

A Dutch oven can be used to boil water, make a stew, bake bread, and cook virtually anything that can be fitted inside. And if you were forced to evacuate an area, a camp and/or Dutch oven is compact and light enough to be easily transported. My wife’s advice to her sister was to go to Walmart and get:

Put the oven, these items, and some basic cooking utensils in a square milk crate for storage, and you’re ready to bug out. If you have more than one Dutch oven (one to use for everyday cooking and another for camping/emergencies), this milk crate system is excellent. Just store it with your other camping/hunting/emergency supplies.

Must-haves for your Dutch oven survival kit

I’ve been cooking with Dutch ovens at hunting and fishing camps for decades, and on many camping trips and Boy Scout and Girl Scout outings. Beginners frequently ask for a list of tools to get started in Dutch oven cooking. So, here’s the basic, bare-bones list of Dutch oven survival kit necessities, proven over the years.

1 12-inch Lodge brand shallow cast iron oven

I like Lodge cast iron best because it is made in America and has a proven quality record, but that’s just personal preference. Other experienced Dutch oven cooks may use different brands, such as Camp Chef, so chose whatever you like. You’ll get what you pay for. A cheap, poorly-made oven won’t work particularly well, and you’ll probably end up replacing it with a quality piece. Sometimes, I take an aluminum oven on outdoor excursions instead of cast iron to save weight.

3 shallow metal pans with lipped rims

These are critical, and common dog food pans work very well. Put one pan underneath the oven to protect the coals from dampness and help regulate heat; and another pan is used to store coals. The third is a spare that is used to cover the oven and protect it from rain or snow while cooking. Here is an example of this type of bowl. See the video below to see how these pans are utilized.

1 Lid lifter

In a pinch, a pair of channel lock pliers will work. Don’t underestimate the weight of the Dutch oven filled with food or how hot it gets! A lid lifter gives you plenty of distance from the heat source when you want to check on your food or stir it.

1 Trivet or tripod

This is a wire or metal rack that holds the lid while you stir the contents of the oven or adjust seasonings. It keeps the lid out of the dirt and clean, and if you’re cooking outdoors, you may not have a nearby, heat-proof surface.

1 Knife

You probably don’t need a tactical or survival knife, (even though, in an emergency, any  knife you have is a “survival knife”), but you will need something that will work for food preparation.

1 Nylon spatula and nylon spoon

This is used for cooking, serving, and cleaning the oven.

Sources of heat and organizing your gear

Charcoal is easy to use, and generally, in good supply. But when the charcoal runs out, you can use firewood, driftwood, coal, wood scraps from a dumpster, etc. Shipping pallets, generally found about anywhere, burn quite well. If the pallets are made of hardwood, which many are, then you’ll get great coals! You can also prepare for disaster by integrating an outside heat source into your normal cooking routine. My propane fish cooker stays operational year-round on my patio because it is used constantly. Even when there is snow on the ground, we still go outside to fry bacon or cook fish.

If your plan is to use mostly charcoal briquettes with your outdoor cooking, a Chimney Starter will make life much, much easier for you. It heats up the briquettes super quickly so you have coals for cooking in no time.

This Lodge camp oven and propane fish cooker will work very well for cooking and boiling water, even when the power is out.

The lid lifter, trivet, “survival knife,” spatula and spoon all fit inside the oven. All these items fit into a nylon commercial Dutch oven holder. Another great way to carry everything is in a square milk crate. Put the metal pans on the bottom, and the oven won’t tip over. The loaded crate stacks nicely.

Cleaning a Dutch oven is easy. Take the spatula, scrape out any food residue, and fill it with water. (Never put cold water into a hot oven. It might cause it to crack.) Put the oven back on the coals, and boil the water. Usually this will be enough to clean the oven, and all that remains is to scrape out the softened food debris and wipe it dry. Rub the cast iron with a light film of oil to protect against rust.

Obviously, there are other “nice-to-have” cooking items that could be included, but this basic Dutch oven survival kit will get you by. Check out these Dutch oven no-fail recipes for getting started or even if you’re an experienced outdoor cooke!

For more information about Dutch ovens and cooking outdoors, contact:

The International Dutch Oven Society

Lodge Manufacturing

Camp Chef

by Leon Pantenburg of SurvivalCommonSense, and updated by Noah, 1/7/17. All photos by Leon Pantenburg.

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The Right Way (And Wrong Way) To Care For Cast Iron

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The Right Way (And Wrong Way) To Care For Cast Iron

Image source: Wikimedia


There are several schools of thought to caring for cast iron cookware. Some see it as easy — a traditional skill they’ve long mastered and possibly learned from their parents or grandparents. Then there are those who see it as some sort of arcane ritual, fraught with confusion and the possibility of error. And then there are people like me who actually have started fires in the kitchen trying to season cast iron cookware. More about that little episode later. The reality is that taking care of your cast iron is incredibly easy and requires minimal effort — and just a little bit of oil or grease.

Seasoning Your Cast Iron

Many new cast iron pieces come pre-seasoned — that is to say they already have oil more or less literally baked into the pores of the iron, which forms a durable, non-stick coating in the pan. If you’ve got cookware like that, great. Skip on ahead to the next section, or keep reading anyway, because knowledge is power.  Let us presume you have rusty, dirty or poorly cared-for cast iron. Start by cleaning off the rust. This can be as simple as scrubbing it with some salt mixed with oil, or using bare steel wool, or even gently sandblasting in the most extreme cases. Once you are down to bare iron, now the fun begins.

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Some say to use bacon grease or some other animal fat. Others pull out a bottle of mysterious seasoning oil passed down through the generations and based on an old pioneer recipe that was given to them by a wise old American Indian. But if it’s an edible oil, it will work. Wipe your entire piece of cookware down liberally with oil, and bake it in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. (Some prefer 350 or even lower.) The trick is to heat your skillet enough so the iron absorbs some of the hot oil. Bake for at least half an hour or so, and then let the cookware cool down. Done properly, you now have oil-seasoned cast iron. I like to fry up a few batches of bacon or repeat the seasoning process a couple more times to build up the seasoning. Afterwards, as long as you keep your pans properly oiled, you can maintain the seasoning forever, and you will eventually develop a rich, shiny coating in your cast iron.

The Right Way (And Wrong Way) To Care For Cast Iron

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When I was a teenager, I took up collecting vintage cast iron, and I managed to get my hands on a wooden handled waffle iron. This precluded me from baking it, so I filled it up with oil and put it on the stovetop to heat up for a while. This was when I had my first lesson in the flash point of cooking oil, and I had the embarrassment of watching my mother stare at me with a disproving glare as I poured baking soda all over my antique cast iron and made an unholy mess in her kitchen. Learn from my fail and don’t puddle up oil in your cast iron if you are seasoning on the stove top. (Or, at least, watch the temperature of your cookware.)

Taking Care of a Seasoned Pan

Never EVER use soapy water to clean your pan. Ever. The soap cuts the protective oils and strips away the seasoning in the skillet. Instead, use hot water to rinse the pan, and either wipe it down with a clean cloth or sponge, or buff out stubborn food deposits with some salt and oil. Once clean, apply a thin layer of oil and put it away. It’s really that simple. Near-boiling or boiling water sanitizes your cookware, and everything else is just basic cleaning. If you are going to store your cast iron for a period of time, oil it up well and put it in a dry location. Check on it now and then to make sure it is still in good form.

Caring for cast iron isn’t hard. Getting it seasoned is the hardest step, and once you’ve accomplished that, it is just simple maintenance from there. Cast iron cookware can become a multigenerational heirloom, passed down for generations. I have personally seen century-old cast iron in regular use by third and fourth generation family members. Truly, there can be no better way for the well-prepared person to cook.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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5 Pieces Of Cast Iron Cookware No Homestead Should Be Without

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5 Pieces Of Cast Iron Cookware No Homestead Should Be Without

Image source: Lodge

The use of cast iron for cooking is a nearly global standard in any culture that has mastered the casting of iron. Durable, long-lasting and easy to make, cast iron has been surpassed in recent years by other lighter materials, but remains very popular with discerning cooks and those who enjoy the simple, traditional tools of our ancestors.

Because it is so tough, a well-cared-for piece of cast iron cookware can become a functional heirloom passed down through generations. However, even without considering the huge amounts of antique and vintage cast iron available to the consumer, there is plenty of current production cast iron cookware, and much of it mimics the patterns that have been popular in America for well over a century. It is generally held that a homesteader should have at least one quality piece of cast iron cookware, but we think there are five pieces every well-equipped homesteader should have.

1. The skillet

Cast iron skillets come in a great number of shapes and sizes. The number it is marked with basically corresponds to its internal diameter (i.e., a No. 8 skillet should be about 8 inches in diameter inside). The No. 8 skillet is about the most popular size out there and should serve as the workhorse of your cast iron collection. Ideally, you should have a glass or iron lid to match it. In a pinch, you can do most of your cooking in a good skillet, making it highly versatile. Other common sizes include the diminutive No. 3, which is ideal for cooking an egg or two, and the larger No. 10, which is great for cooking up a big mess of food. You’ll probably want a couple of different skillets that suit your unique needs.

2. The chicken fryer

A variation on the skillet theme is the so-called “chicken fryer,” which is nothing more than a regular  No. 8 skillet made taller to accommodate the volume of oil needed to deep fry chicken on your stovetop.

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Naturally fitted with a lid, this is a must-have item of cast iron cookware if you enjoy fried chicken or other deep-fried food. As a bonus, it is deep enough to cook soups, chili and stew, making it a very useful tool in the kitchen. However, these aren’t as easy to find as they used to be, so you may be forced to turn to the secondhand market.

3. Dutch ovens

5 Pieces Of Cast Iron Cookware No Homestead Should Be Without

Image source: Flickr

Dutch ovens are nothing more than large cast iron pots with lids, and come in two forms: indoor and outdoor. We are probably all familiar with the outdoor ones fitted with legs and a deep lid that can hold coals, and these certainly are important. Their indoor cousins are just as useful, rounding out a kitchen with a rugged pot good for everything from deep frying to making stew. Commonly a stovetop Dutch oven will have a lid that fits a No. 8 skillet, making them a natural pairing.

4. Griddles

Cast iron griddles come in all shapes and sizes, from long rectangular shaped ones to round ones with handles. The longer ones are commonly used across two burners on a stove, allowing for a cooking area and a warming area, while the round ones with handles are about perfect for cooking pancakes, tortillas and other flatbreads, or anything else you might cook on a griddle.

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I find this pattern to be the one I use most, but your mileage may vary. If you can, you might as well get both, because like guns, nobody ever complained about having too much cast iron cookware!

5. Corn muffin pans

OK, so perhaps this is less a “must -have” and more a “really nice to have.” These charming little pans put out small loaves of cornbread-shaped-like ears of corn, and properly used, have a delightfully crispy exterior. A classic pan our grandparents or great grandparents would have used to put out delicious food that was a step above the usual cornbread, it’s not hard to find these pans even today. I like them because I like cornbread, and because I remember my own grandmother cooking with one. The cornbread they put out goes great with a simple bowl of beans or chili, and even makes a great snack or lunchbox item. Either way, they echo back to a time when food preparation was both simple and infused with great personal pride, and looked quaint on top of everything else.


U.S.-based companies like Lodge and the venerable Wagner crank out literally tons of cast iron cookware of all sorts for discerning consumers, and you are likely to find any sort of cookware you need from them. If you enjoy collecting antiques, there are hundreds and thousands of vintage styles of cookware and dedicated collector organizations. Some pieces are very affordable, and even cheaper than buying brand new, while others can be very expensive.  Everything described in this article can be found without great expense. While nasty Teflon-coated aluminum skillets are cheap, and there is a lot to be said for some of the better grade stainless steel and glass cookware, at the end of the day, nothing is as classic, rugged and pleasant as a good piece of cast iron.

Do you agree? What would be on your list? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

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Pioneer Cooking is an Art

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Pioneer CookingPioneer, cooking is an interesting subject; it comes very close to the way in which many of us may have to cook in the future. It was a type of cooking that required that you make do with what you had, but in a way, it was also an art. In a future TEOTWAWKI scenario, this is exactly the same mindset and skill set you’ll need.

A few pioneer cookbooks still exist, and two that looked particularly interesting were Log Cabin Cooking and to get kids interested in this type of cooking, The Little House Cookbook.

I recently came across a set of rules for pioneer cooking. These are simple rules that you can easily learn and follow, and they come in handy for everyday cooking.

1. No complaining that, “I don’t have that ingredient”, “The recipe won’t work.” Figure out a substitute and a solution. Learn to be creative. Your only goal is to produce something that is edible and, hopefully, tastes good.

2. No temperature gauge in your improvised oven? Try these tips to get a general idea of heat level:

  • 400-450° — Your hand can be comfortably held in the oven for 35 seconds.
  • 350° — Your hand can be comfortably held in the oven for 45 seconds.
  • 200-300° – Your hand can be comfortably held in the oven for 60 seconds.

3. Learn to cook by feel. Notice how a teaspoon of salt feels and looks in your hand. How about a cup of sugar?  Can you judge what three cups of flour looks like and about how much it weighs in a bowl?

4. No timers. Learn to check your food as it cooks or bakes. Learn what your food smells and looks like when it is finished cooking.

5. Learn the following:

  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder raises one cup of flour.
  • To make bread, use one cup of liquid to three cups flour and one package yeast to two cups liquid.
  • Muffins use one-cup liquid to two cups flour.
  • 5 heaping tablespoons of flour equal one cup.
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar equals one ounce.
  • 7 heaping tablespoons of sugar equal one cup
  • 2 1/2 cups of sugar equals one pound.
  • 3 ½ cups of cornmeal equals 1 quart.
  • 4 cups of flour equals 1 pound.
  • 1 cup of water equals 8 ounces.

Now, these may seem a bit silly to someone who is used to following modern recipes, but if you read old pioneer recipes, these are the type of measurements they used.

Pioneer cooking was a “make do” type of cooking. Most people had no measuring cups, so they needed to learn to do measurements by sight and feel. It was just as much of an art as any other creative endeavor. Pioneers and other old-time cooks learned to watch their food and taste it while it was still cooking. Temperature was done by feel. If you burned it you ate it. You couldn’t afford to throw away food.

Next time you go camping, try pioneer cooking. Make all your meals from scratch using no measuring cups or spoons. Bonus points if you use all cast iron pots and pans.



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The Iconic ‘Old West’ Cookware That Lasts (Pretty Much) Forever

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The Iconic 'Old West' Cookware That Lasts (Pretty Much) Forever

Image source: Wikipedia

One of the iconic images of the Old West is, of course, the cowboy. It is not hard for one to imagine a group of cowboys herding large groups of cattle across the western prairies, toward a far-off destination.

I remember viewing as a young man a photograph taken in the Old West, sometime around 1886. In the picture, a group of roughly a dozen or so cowboys are sitting around a campfire, eating a meal. There is a man standing in the middle with an apron on, dishing out beans and steak. He was the “cookie,” the man who handled the chuck wagon, provided the meals and always pointed the tongue of his wagon north every night so the cowboys would not lose their way. His equipment often consisted of an old Army Civil War surplus wagon — rebuilt into a mobile kitchen – along with a banged-up collection of utensils and metal plates and silverware, also often surplus. He always had cookware made from cast iron.

Iron was first used for cookware by the Chinese, starting around 200 BC. Before the advent of the modern oven, cooking over hearth was the most common method in homes. A large iron pot was the “tool” of choice.

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Fast forward to today. For outdoor cooking, cast iron is still one of the most common and popular methods. Cast iron holds up very well, especially if you are cooking over hot coals. It heats evenly, and does not require as thorough a washing as other forms of cookware.

The Iconic 'Old West' Cookware That Lasts (Pretty Much) Forever

Image source: Wikipedia

A well-used cast iron skillet or pan has a non-stick service that develops over time. You can recognize these well-used implements easily by their shiny black patina. A new pan or Dutch oven will not look like this, and will lack the non-stick service found on well-used cookery. To use your new cast iron, you first must “season” it.

To season a new pot, pan, skillet or Dutch oven made of iron, rub the entire object with a nice thick layer of cooking oil. Place the pan in your oven at 350 degrees for at least an hour and a half. When it is done, dry off gently with paper towels. Your pan will not have the deep patina that older implements have, but it will be ready for cooking. You can re-season cast iron as necessary.

When washing a cast iron pot or pan, use hot water — as hot as you can stand. Do not submerge the pan in soapy water but scrub off all of the food. If needed, you can use a small amount of dish soap to wash the pan or pot. After it is washed, dry with a towel.

There are really only two cast iron implements needed for outdoor cooking, and even most indoor cooking arrangements. The first is the Dutch oven; the next is a frying pan.

The Dutch oven is perhaps one of the most common pieces of cast iron cookware, and certainly the most iconic. It can be used for a variety of tasks, from stews to dinner rolls. The Dutch oven, in its most basic design, goes back 300-400 years. In America it was improved with a flat, ridged lid to hold coals on top for more even cooking. The three pronged stand helps keep the oven above the coals. On some Dutch ovens, the lid can be flipped over and used as a skillet.

Indoor Dutch ovens are much more popular, but are not ideal for outdoor cooking because of the domed lid and flat bottom. The domed lid has spikes on it, designed for either allowing condensation to drip down back onto the food, or to force the juices back into the meat. Indoor Dutch ovens are limited in their usefulness outside. You can’t stack hot coals on top of the lid, and you can only really cook with them over a camp stove or suspended over a fire for stews and such.

The other implement for camp cooking is the frying pan. The frying pan has a variety of uses, from frying eggs or bacon, to being used to grill a steak. An 8- or 10-inch frying pan, combined with the Dutch oven, is all you need to feed your group on a camping trip, and can be used in tandem to prepare meals.

I also strongly suggest that when you buy cast iron, make sure you buy something solid, such as a Lodge cast iron piece of cookware. Lodge has been producing cast iron for more than 100 years, and I’ve never had a piece of their cookware fail me.

What advice would you add on using cast iron? Share your thoughts in the section below:    

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Cast Iron 101: How to Use, Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet

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Cast Iron 101: How to Use, Clean and Season a Cast Iron Skillet Did you know that new cast iron pots and pans are simply cast which means if you look at them through a microscope you will see more of a textured finish. Older cast iron pans were almost always machine polished to a …

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The Easy Way to Clean Cast Iron

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The Easy Way to Clean Cast Iron Cast iron is one of those things that will last for, literally, generations! Thousands of meals can be cooked in a typical cast iron pan before it would even think about giving up. You can ensure the longevity of your cast iron by first understanding the proper use …

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The Survival Grill

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The Survival Grill Host: James Walton “I Am Liberty” Don’t underestimate just how devastating a tool your grill can be both in a preparedness situation and in the betterment of your current life. The fact is most people don’t know how to utilize their grill. It could be a lack of understanding of heat or … Continue reading The Survival Grill

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Review: Stainless Steel Chainmail Scrubber

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As you know I cook with cast iron quite a bit – daily actually.  However, as much as I love my dutch oven and cast iron skillets, I HATE cleaning them.  So when I saw a program to review a chainmail scrubber designed to clean cast iron skillets without removing the seasoning I had to apply. Don’t think that because this is a sponsored post that I won’t give an honest review.  A free $20.00 scrubber, no matter how cool, is not worth my integrity. Luckily, this thing actually works pretty good, and I find that it actually is something

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4 Simple Ways To Retain More Heat From Your Wood-Burning Stove

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4 Simple Ways To Retain More Heat From Your Wood-Burning Stove

Image source: Majesticfireplaces.com

If you have a cast iron stove, you no doubt know how to manage the flue and dampers and how long it will provide heat to your home. But there are a few “hacks” that you can improvise that will allow you to capture, store and radiate more heat longer. This can be especially useful at night when you might not want to wake up at 3 in the morning to put another log on the fire.

It could also come in handy if you’re facing a particularly cold period of weather. We had wind-chills of -30 degrees Fahrenheit in Michigan last winter, and I used some of these tricks to get the most out of our cast iron stove.

There are several factors that affect the radiance of a wood-fired stove.

  • The stove material. Cast iron is the most common stove material, but there are also masonry stoves that are built with fire brick and other materials to hold heat longer.
  • The size of the stove and the amount of mass that is exposed to the air.
  • Venting and the amount of stove pipe that is exposed to the air, including second story rooms.
  • The type of wood that is used. Soft woods burn hot, but fast. Hardwoods burn low and slow.

What we’re going to explore are ways to retain the most heat from your wood-burning stove. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you have a medium-size cast iron stove. There are some fundamental things you can do to increase its ability to hold and retain heat.

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1. Increase the mass of cast iron. This sounds a bit complicated but it’s as easy as placing some dry cast iron utensils, like a Dutch oven or a frying pan, on the stove top. The utensils will get quite hot — but that’s the idea. You want to capture as much heat and hold it as long as possible.

4 Simple Ways To Retain More Heat From Your Wood-Burning Stove

Image source: Pixabay.com

2. Place some fire brick in the stove and the stove top. Fire brick is relatively inexpensive and you’ll only need enough to put on the bottom surface of the firebox. They’re about two inches high, so you might be reducing the size of your firebox somewhat. That’s when you can go a different route and place the bricks directly on top of the stove. Don’t stack them too high. The benefit of fire brick is that it holds heat longer than cast iron.

3. Reconsider your chimney venting configuration. Be careful here. Stovepipes should have a vertical configuration and a double-walled insulated pipe anywhere it bisects the structure, such as a second story floor or roof. However, there may be an opportunity to install a single-walled length of stove pipe to draw more heat from the pipe to the surrounding air.

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4. Install a catalytic combustor. These are honeycombed shaped inserts that are covered with platinum to create a more efficient burn in your stove. They don’t work in all stoves, but are worth considering if you want to improve efficiency. The primary benefit is that they help to burn much of the smoke that is normally wasted heat in a traditional stove.

Proper installation and venting are critical safety factors for any wood-burning stove. These ideas are improvised solutions, and the two safest options are the insertion of fire bricks into the base of the firebox, or the installation of a catalytic combustor if your stove can accommodate one.

Placing anything on the stovetop, whether it’s cast iron utensils or fire bricks, requires some added care and attention in the event something falls to the floor.

Of course, these alternatives are proposed as short-term solutions in the event of extreme cold. If you need to combine too many improvised solutions like this, you might want to consider a new stove.


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What tips would you add to this story? Share your advice for wood-burning stoves in the section below:

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Is A 100% Off-Grid Life Even Possible?

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Is A 100% Off-Grid Life Even Possible?

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Is it possible to live fully and completely off the grid? This is a complicated question with a few different answers. Some people, of course, will jump immediately to a “yes” for an answer. They will be the first to point out how the Native Americans did it, the settlers and mountain men did it, and their grandparents did it. And they would certainly be right. Many people have truly lived off the grid to the truest and purist definition of the term.

You could purchase a good knife, a fine rifle, ammunition, a metal pot, and a few other odds and ends and then go out to where the road ends, ditch your car, and live like the North Pond Hermit. However I’m willing to bet not too many of us want to live like that. I certainly don’t, unless I must.

But let’s come back around to reality, and talk about the modern definition of living off the grid. For most, it’s owning a few acres somewhere, not paying a dime in electricity or water bills, growing your food, and only purchasing a few supplies here and there. But the question is: Can you live fully off the grid?

To answer that question, let’s examine a few key points.

Water. Can you find a safe, clean water source on your land? If there is no water source, can you collect water? Can you purify the water you collect? If you cannot find a way to have fresh water without having to hook up to city water, you cannot live off the grid. If you have property that has a stream or spring, you are off to a very good start.

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A well is a great way to get clean drinking water, too, although the upfront cost of digging it can be expensive. If you do not have a water source nearby, there are a few possible alternatives. Do you live in an area with a good amount of rainfall? If so, you can develop a rain water catchment system. Is there a stream or fresh water spring nearby that you can collect water from? This is another option, although extremely inconvenient and not really an option if you desire crops or animals.

Image source: sloeblack.tumblr.com

Image source: sloeblack.tumblr.com

Bottom line: If you want to live off grid, buy land with a water source.

Food. Are you going to keep buying most of your food? Or are you going to dive in and go off grid? To start, you must decide how you are going to provide nutrition for you and your family. You will need to provide protein, vitamins, calcium and the calories necessary to live. You will need to store food for the offseason. You will need to educate yourself on animal husbandry, gardening, tree care, etc. You will need to carefully plan your homestead or mini-farm to make the most of you valuable resources and space. Food is the next step to going off the grid, and without growing your own, you might as well stay in the suburbs.

Electricity. Unless you are going to burn oil lamps (and buy oil), heat only with wood and rely solely on canned and preserved foods, you will need electricity. And unless you want to pay an electric bill every month, you will need to figure out a way to make power. Solar energy or a water-powered electrical system are your only real options here – and millions of off-gridders are living just like this. After all, I doubt you’ll be able to build a nuclear reactor in your basement.

These are the three main things that you must have to live off the grid. The extras that come afterwards – such as firearms, medical supplies and even salt – are all individual choices.

Yes, it is possible to go off the grid. Sure, you may have to go into town a couple times a year for bullets, band-aids and seed. But even mountain men met up a couple times a year to trade fur for gold, powder, lead and other supplies. And they definitely were living off the grid.

Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Beyond Cast Iron: Homestead Cookware That Will Last Forever

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Beyond Cast Iron: Homestead Cookware That Will Last Forever

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The homestead lifestyle is generally one centered on frugality, self-reliance and going back to basics. These characteristics can all apply to the kitchen. Just visit any cookware or kitchen supply aisle in a store and you will see a huge array of gadgets all promising to make cooking easier.

More often than not, though, these gadgets or “must-have” appliances don’t work as well as marketed or they end up living in the back of a drawer or cabinet because you really never use them. Perhaps you do enjoy them but find that they break easily or that nifty non-stick coating on your favorite pan is already chipping. You can save a lot of money in the long-run and improve your cooking experience by investing in simpler, basic cookware and kitchen utensils – some of which your grandparents or great-grandparents used.

Everyone has their own way of cooking or preferences for certain types of cookware. But in general the following kitchen equipment will be used quite often in the homestead kitchen.

1. Cast iron cookware

Cast iron definitely has its place in the homestead kitchen and honestly, even just cooking with cast iron makes you feel a bit like you’ve gone back in time. It also has a lot of benefits, such as:

  • It isn’t expensive and will easily last many generations.
  • It is naturally non-stick (when properly seasoned).
  • It retains warmth very well.
  • It is extremely versatile (on stovetop, in oven, over campfire, etc.).

Cast iron doesn’t really have any disadvantages, but there are some things to keep in mind. First off, most basic cast iron pans aren’t going to have some type of handle to prevent you from burning your hand like other pans. Even I have made the mistake of grabbing the handle while I was busy cooking and not paying attention.

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Secondly, some novice cooks complain they don’t like cooking with cast iron because the food sticks badly, it’s difficult to clean, or their pots/pans started to rust. This is unfortunate because all of those issues are solely due to improper care. Simply put, cast iron cannot be treated like other metal cookware. These pans must be seasoned and cleaned in a specific way. If you care for your cast iron cookware properly you will find they are great cooking tools.

Check out articles here and here on how to care for your cast iron.

2. Stainless steel cookware

Aluminum pans are cheap but stainless steel pots and pans are what you should invest in. Stainless steel is more expensive but you will get a heavier pan that is better at holding in heat. A well-made stainless steel pan is thicker and will sit much better on a stovetop. Stainless steel is also non-reactive, so you don’t need to worry about pitting from salts or acids if you use common sense.

3. High-quality knives

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

A dull knife isn’t just a pain to use but also can reduce the quality of your food by crushing while cutting. A dull knife is also more dangerous than a sharp one – the reason being is that you have to apply more force with a dull knife and if you slip, you are more apt to cut yourself.

If you enjoy cooking, you really need a good set of knives and a knife sharpener. There are a lot of different kitchen knife brands out there, so I recommend doing your homework before buying. Good kitchen knives are an investment. They aren’t cheap, but they will easily pay for themselves. Good knives should outlast your lifetime easily. You don’t need to break the bank to get new knives. I recommend replacing your underperforming knives with new ones over time, starting with whichever style of knife you use the most.

4. Glass or ceramic bakeware

If you are someone who loves baking your experience in the kitchen will be much more pleasant with high-quality bakeware. Although you can find really great bakeware that isn’t a brand name, there are two name brands that are exceptionally impressive – Pyrex glass bakeware and Corningware. You can often find Corningware that is still in great shape at thrift stores or garage sales. Heavy, thick and well-made glass or ceramic bakeware is going to last for many generations.

Bonus Advice

Finally, I like wooden cooking utensils. The sound of a wooden spoon stirring around a pan is quite lovely, plus you don’t need to worry about scratching metal or non-stick cookware. Wood won’t react with acidic foods while cooking, either.

Some people do worry about bacteria in the wood grain, but the same can happen in plastic or metal utensils. Just wash your wooden utensils after use and be sure they are dried immediately. Wood spoons can easily last a lifetime when cared for properly.

What are some of the most-used pieces of cookware in your kitchen? Please share in the comment section below!

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The Modern Mom’s Guide to Cast Iron Skillet Care

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The Modern Mom's Guide to Cast Iron Skillet Care

In my former life, I was strictly a Calphalon girl. A non-stick, Calphalon girl. 

Things change, thankfully. :) 

My new favorite cookware is cast iron. If you haven’t started using cast iron yet, you’re missing out.

Cooking with cast iron has numerous benefits. The cookware conducts heat beautifully. You can move it from the stove-top right to the oven with no problem. Your pieces will last just about forever and most importantly, it’s just a healthier option.

Now, if you’re like many of my friends, you’re not using cast iron cookware because it seems complicated. Like you have to do all this special seasoning and stuff to it, right? I get it, because I thought that once, too. But stay with me for a second here and see just how easy cast iron skillet care really is. 

First, you clean it.

Skillets are easiest to clean right after you’ve finished cooking. Immediately after you’re done, use a bristle scrub brush or the scrubby side of a sponge and hand wash the skillet under hot water in the kitchen sink.

Soap or no soap?

That’s the million dollar question and hang on, ’cause it’s gonna stir up quite the controversy!

Lodge Manufacturing says using a mild dish soap is okay. And Chef J. Kenji López-Alt, the Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats agrees with them

However, your mother, grandmother, sister, and neighbor (and many of the cast iron skillet users reading this right now) may not.

For the record, I do not use soap. Most of the time. 😉

So basically, whether or not you use a mild detergent is up to you.  Just know that you don’t need soap to keep it sanitary. Once the skillet heats up, any of that crazy bacteria that you’re imagining is taken care of.

There are a few things you definitely should not do:

  • Do not soak the skillet in the sink.
  • Never put the skillet in the dishwasher.
  • Do not use harsh detergents.
  • Avoid using metal scouring pads unless you are restoring a rusted pan.

After you finish washing, dry your skillet. 

The pros at The Kitchn.com say drying on the stove is the best way. 

…wipe out most of the water with a towel or paper towel. Place the skillet over a medium flame and let it sit until very dry — about 5 minutes. 

A dry skillet is important because any wet spots will turn into rust spots.

Once it’s dry, season it.

After I bought my cast iron cookware,  I noticed people were saying different things when it came to seasoning. And all the advice seemed to differ regarding the oil used, whether or not to use the oven for seasoning, how long the skillet stayed in the oven and the temperature the oven was set to.

After trying a few different ways, I settled on Chef J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats’ stove-top seasoning method and it’s working for me. 

Add a half teaspoon of a neutral oil like vegetable, canola, flaxseed, or shortening. Rub it around with a paper towel. Continue heating the pan until it just starts to smoke then give it one more good rub. Let it cool and you’re done. 

Isn’t that quick and easy?

Still have questions?

This is the best video I’ve seen on cast-iron care. It’s by America’s Test Kitchen. I referred to again and again as I was starting to use my skillet.  I hope you find it as helpful as I did. 


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