I have just recently developed a softness for cast iron. Before now, I always assumed that if it was old and rusty that it couldn't be saved, but I was wrong .
I was recently at a speaking event and a gentleman there told me that he and his wife were in a dutch oven (cast iron) cook off club. They cook everything in them (I mean full meals). I also have another friend (Matt) who said that his brother (Joe) bakes in them right in the ground. Anything from a stew to corn bread and cake. I am jealous !! There is something so neat about cooking in old cast iron and in the ground. Doesn't it just seem like it would taste better.. Yum Yum.
There is also a value to old cast iron as well and Griswold is one of the more sought after makers in cast iron ware. The Griswold Co. was founded in the middle 1800's and was located in Erie Pennsylvania. Most of the items have the Erie marked on the bottom as well. (along with other marks). They made a lot of other cast iron products and in the latter years they also did some cast aluminum cookware as well. But the consistently sought after pieces are the earlier ones (cast iron). The more unusual pieces and sizes can bring really high prices.
The dutch ovens like (Joe) uses for cooking in the ground with, were the more common pieces that must have been heavily used, so there are still plenty around to purchase. So you can go out and get one and try cooking in them too.
How fun does all this sound to share with your friends during a summer cook out. Imagine when you tell them you cooked the beans or desert in the ground in your cast iron dutch oven. Oh by the way it's pretty simple; dig a hole and start a fire using coals , get them red and fiery and then put your pot in the hole and cover and bake till done.
If you find old pans and you think you couldn't cook in them try this; to re-season old cast iron pans, clean the old debris in them and wash it the best you can to remove any rust. Coat the surface first with lard or grease, not regular cooking oil. Put them in the oven on about 300 degrees. Heat for 15-20 minutes and then remove and drain excess oil. Place back in the oven and heat for an additional 2 hours. You can do this several times to make a good seasoning bond. Then when you first start cooking with it , use fatty foods to help continue to season it. Never wash it with detergent. Just use warm water and towel dry.
Anyone out there that has neat recipes, please share some with us for cooking in cast iron. Better yet, Click the "comments" word on the home page and post your recipe for everyone to read!