Cast Iron Skillet Non-Stick*
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using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I do not know for sure what causes pitting, but my reading suggests that it is rust.  It is important to dry your cast iron after water contact using heat. 

I've read that salt can make any water problems worse, but I think the proper drying takes care of that.


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paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I did some more experiments today.

I ruined an aluminum cookie sheet by getting oil dribbles on it while trying to season cast iron.  I then tried to fix it by seasoning the whole surface of the aluminum.  I put down a thin layer of oil and it came out all mottled.  I put down more layers - thinner ... they came out mottled too.

I put down a much thicker layer of oil and .....  very nice!

I put down a thicker layer of oil on a cast iron griddle and it is in the oven right now.

More news as events warrant.

Oh!  And I'm trying to take lots of pictures too.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I burned my hand again.  That threw me off of experimenting for a while.

The thicker layer on the cast iron griddle came out blotchy/mottled.

I now have another griddle in the oven with a whole lot of bacon grease ....  so far, it has a glassy surface ...

I tried an experiment I read somewhere about seasoning on the stove top.  Every time the oil mottles, smear it around with a paper towel.  I've done that twice now.  It does seem to do something ....  nothing really glassy looking like what I would like.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Hmmmmm.......  I found another recipe for seasoning that calls for a thin layer of shortening, then 10 hours at 250 degrees.  I might try that next to see if it keeps from doing the mottling thing.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I pulled the griddle out of the oven last night.  The surface looks glassy, but the seasoning is kinda like ....  a layer of hard jello.  It comes off with my fingernail.

I put it back in the oven and left it at 250 degrees overnight.  This morning it is unchanged. 

I'm calling this one a failure.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
What a mess.  The "hard jello" stuff came right off when I made eggs.  Gross.

I now have two pieces in the oven at 250.  I'll leave them in there for about eight hours.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
paul wheaton wrote:
I now have two pieces in the oven at 250.  I'll leave them in there for about eight hours.


That did nothing.  I pulled them out and they were the same as when I put them in.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Dan,

I'm re-reading your stuff.  Now that I've come a bit further, I feel I'm beginning to better understand some of your stuff.

It sounds like the key is to choose an oil/fat for polymerization, and another oil/fat for laying down the carbon layer.

It sounds like polymerization might have nothing to do with the smoke point at all.  That's just for laying down the carbon layer. 

You mentioned that you were going to experiment with grape seed oil - did you ever do that?

Can you give a recipe for seasoning a standard cast iron skillet in an oven?  Maybe something with an oil/fat, a temp and an amount of time?

Also, my research has brought up something about not letting the oil/fat get to the smoke point.  Apparently, this releases free radicals that can cause cancer.  Do you know anything about this?

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Dan,

Is the temp that an oil/fat polymerizes related to the temp it smokes?

Can an oil/fat polymerize only with smoking?

castnuts Hatfield


Joined: Jun 25, 2007
Posts: 1
Great site!  never gave much thought to who made my skillet, mine says "10  S K  MADE IN USA  D"  i've managed to get a finish inside like black glass after a couple of batches of cornbread using a recipe that calls for a  puddle of shortening heated in the pan bfore pouring the batter in.  i'm partial to the butter flavor variety. The cornbread is great and the finish left behind too, but it is not indestructable. I agree with the theory of much use and gentle cleanup to sustain the no-stick goodness.  I've had occasion to use bear lard (?)  Maybe not so easy to come by, but excellent if you have the opportunity(deep-fat frying, pie crust)
I got my pan at a yard sale and it was pretty cruddy,  covered in rust and who knows what. 
someone recommended placing it an open flame to coals wood campfire upside down, took it out in morning shiny as new.  tried olive oil for a while but it tended to leave it sticky at original "seasoning-in" but I use it often as a put-away coating after washing easy .  When not in use it goes in the oven bottom rack, I feel it adds a little extra heat retention for baking after pre-heat.  I got some high-temp plastic wear  for a gift that works great. but I found out it's pretty spendy (spatula=$15 wow) that was ten years ago so I guess it holds up pretty well as it still looks new.

I like the cast iron over the no stick ultimately for the performance,  I've taken the teflon scare as an urban myth debunked.  whatever flakes off will pass right thru you like any other plastic,  but it looks nasty and I'm not giving it to my friends or family. plus I'm notoriously cheap and really don't like buying things that don't last forever.

I say use it often ,  be patient enough to take care of it and you will be greatly rewarded for your efforts.  Be well!
jen m


Joined: Jun 17, 2007
Posts: 21
Location: la grande, or
i had no idea cast iron was so complicated.  i used to have a perfect pan, but i gave it away. then, i got another one, probably from a second hand store, then, my mom gave me one of her old ones. i have a waffle iron and a dutch oven (which i got new and it's fine after many things being cooked in it).  i won't say things don't stick, but that's what the spatula is for. flipping eggs & pancakes.  i don't use soap.  i use baccon grease, olive oil, depends on what i'm cooking.  I use it a lot, don't think about it much, if at all.  I never thougth there was a science to it, or saw any use for teflon or any other sort of frying pan.  if my pan gets to where i can see the metal, i greese 'er up.  the only time that happens is with my dutch oven. oh, and i have a griddle, too, and it's a cheap one, nothing fancy, but it's well seasoned now too.  i think it has to do with plently of pancakes and baccon.  well, i acutully cook baccon in a small suace pan, but i use the grease to grease the griddle.  it doesn't seem like a big deal to me, just the way things are done?  i don't put it in the dishwasher.  i don't leave it outside to rust in the rain.  i don't say special prayers to the cook ware gods....  just use it, and eat baccon. 


"a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." -Tao Te Ching by Lao Tsu
Silverdale Slug


Joined: Dec 17, 2007
Posts: 12
Health conscious individuals, beware of using PAM cooking spray and unsalted butter when "seasoning" your cast iron pan. They may contain the ingredient DIACETYL, which is the  ingredient in "Butter Flavoring"and butter stabilizer that is killing employees in popcorn manufacturing plants and potentially exposing cooks to lung disease.

ConAgra appears to be taking the PAM with DIACETYL in it off the shelves but it is still a stabilizer in some butter.

The following link is just one of the recent stories regarding this issue.

http://fooddemocracy.wordpress.com/2007/12/22/diacetyl-shows-up-in-more-foods-puts-cooks-at-risk/
bnrbeseth McCoy


Joined: Dec 27, 2007
Posts: 1
i just started using a cast iron comal to cook steaks on the bbq pit and place it straight on the coals. is there a too high of a temp for it. or should i take any extra precations or care for the comal when i do this?
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
If you keep food in it that is cooking and you change the food out once it is cooked, all is fine.

If you place it on the coals with no food on it for an hour, then all of the seasoning will be cooked off of it.

paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Just an FYI that I pushed a lot of updates out to this article.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
And this morning I put a video on the page to demonstrate cooking an egg and good cast iron care.
Melissa2008 B


Joined: Jun 08, 2008
Posts: 2
I found the original article at http://www.richsoil.com/cast-iron.jsp

I'm starting to switch over from teflon to cast iron because we have pet birds and I've read some horror stories about them being killed by teflon outgassing.

This original page says to use a skillet with a glass-like surface. Huh?

I bought my first cast iron skillet in Lodge brand and the surface is far from glass-like. Did I screw up? I thought Lodge was a good brand.

The first thing I found out was that food sticks like crazy to CI. Even when I use lots of nice light olive oil in the pan first, which is good for us.

Then I found out that, unlike teflon, it makes the food taste like it was cooked in a restaurant. Yum!

But one thing I'm concerned about is not cleaning it with soap?

When oil cooks, doesn't it leave carcinogenic residues?

I could sure use some sound advice on all this, thanks!

Melissa
Denver
Colorado Process Servers
http://www.coloradoprocessservers.net
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Lodge is what I first tried too.  And stuff stuck.  A lot. 

That's when I first started to research cast iron. 

So .... if you use that lodge pan a helluva lot, and you use the right kind of spatula, it will eventually develop an acceptable surface. 

I would avoid olive oil.

The carcinogenic residue is a new one on me.  Have any research to back that up?

Melissa2008 B


Joined: Jun 08, 2008
Posts: 2
paul wheaton wrote:
Lodge is what I first tried too.  And stuff stuck.  A lot. 

That's when I first started to research cast iron. 

So .... if you use that lodge pan a helluva lot, and you use the right kind of spatula, it will eventually develop an acceptable surface. 

I would avoid olive oil.

The carcinogenic residue is a new one on me.  Have any research to back that up?




http://www.oliveoilsource.com/oliveoildr-cancer.htm

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are a group of chemicals which are formed when petroleum, petroleum products, coal, wood, cellulose, corn, or oil are burned. There are over 100 PAHs which have been studied.  During oxidation and detoxification in the liver they are thought to form substances which damage DNA, starting a chain of events which could lead to cancer.  A few of them have been classified by the EPA and The Department of Health and Human Services as carcinogenic to animals in studies and probably carcinogenic to humans. 

A person's exposure at home to PAHs would likely be through tobacco smoke, wood smoke, vehicle exhausts, asphalt roads, coal, coal tar, wildfires, agricultural burning,  waste incineration, creosote-treated wood products, cereals, grains, flour, bread, vegetables, fruits, meat, processed or pickled foods.

At work you could be exposed to PAHs in coal tar production plants, coking plants, bitumen and asphalt production plants, coal-gasification sites, smoke houses, aluminum production plants, coal tarring facilities, municipal trash incinerators and by inhaling engine exhaust.  PAHs can also be found in the  mining, oil refining, metalworking, chemical production, transportation, and the electrical industry.

Twenty years ago there was a food scare when PAHs were first being researched.  They were found in meat and other foods which had been cooked at high temperatures, such as grilling and charring. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends to avoid charring meat when grilling, pre-marinade,  which somehow minimizes PAH formation, and minimize the amount of grilled meats consumed. (Grilled vegetables or fruit do not form PAHs).

Many foods naturally contain small quantities of PAHs.  Olive oil, like other vegetable cooking oils,  has been found to contain minute amounts of  up to 17 PAHs such as benzanthracene and chrysene.  Unripe olives tended to have more than ripe olives. 

Burning any cooking oil can increase the amounts of PAHs. Oil of any kind which has been repeatedly heated to its smoking point will lose it's natural antioxidants and begin to accumulate free radicals and other cancer causing substances.  Whether this has actually caused cancer in humans has never been proven. Commercial industrial kitchens which fry foods would be where this sort of thing might happen. It is unlikely that you would repeatedly fry at continuous high temperatures with the same oil at home. In commercial operations the oil is examined regularly with a rancidity test and discarded before it gets to a dangerous stage.  Olive oil is typically not used in commercial kitchens as it is much too expensive.  Cheaper oils like canola, corn or peanut oil are used instead. Extra virgin olive oil has fewer free fatty acids and more antioxidants which soak up free radicals.  So heating it would produce fewer free radicals than a lower grade olive oil.  It is unlikely that in home use olive oil or other cooking oils would be a significant source of PAHs. 

Sometimes when people hear cancer, they panic and forget that we are surrounded by possible carcinogens,  ranging from nearly every food we eat to sunlight.  Although a substance we are exposed to is capable of causing cancer, the probability that this actually happens may be vanishingly small. Exposure to second hand cigarette smoke or going outside without sun block is probably thousands of times more likely to cause cancer than burning your cooking oil. 

References:

Encyclopedia Britannica
Kiritsakaas, Apostolos, Olive Oil From the Tree to the Table,
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). 1995. Toxicological profile for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I'm left wondering about doing these tests using conventional fats vs. organic fats.  Is the carcinogen (if it is there) come from just the fat, or a combination of the fat with the some pesticide in the product?
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
wow! reading through this thread makes cast iron cookware look complicated! unless I need my stock pot or I am making basted eggs I do all my cooking on cast iron. my dutch oven was old, rusted and previously unused when I aquired it. I cleaned it real good with a green scratchy pad thing and used some cooking spray and just started using it and it is now almost  competely seasoned after around 20 uses. my big skillet was a gift brand new. I seasoned it the same way. used it. yeah at first stuff stuck. I just used lots of cooking spray or oil. and tolerated some messes. I always give them a fine mist of cooking spray after cleaning them up. The only one I ruined was a really rusted one that i never used (had another just like it) and I used it to drive a fence post in an emergencys. it cracked

oh, and anything your exposed to in excess will probably prove to cause cancer imho.


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"One cannot help an involuntary process. The point is not to disturb it. - Dr. Michel Odent
castironsue McCoy


Joined: Jul 10, 2008
Posts: 1
Hi...I will have to earn the title of "Castiron Sue" since I am a very UNSEASONED cast iron cookware user! LOL I have finally overcome my fear of attempting to season my 2 cast iron skillets, which I've had for much longer than I'm willing to admit! Well, I used paper towel to wipe it with oil, placed it in a 300 degree oven for 1 hour, let it completely cool on my stove, and then attempted to wipe out the excess oil with a piece of paper towel. My problem is that there were little pieces of paper towel left behind....yuck! I don't really anticipate enjoying paper towel lint in my food! I'm also totally confused about the process of oiling the pan to begin with...do I only oil the inside surface, or do I oil it inside and out and then place it upside down on paper towel in the oven? Am I supposed to generously oil the entire pan, or just a little? Is 300 degrees the correct temp, or will a hotter temp be more efficient? I did read and read and read postings here...so much so my head is swimming (lol)...but, I am really anxious to learn about this. Also, one last question (at least for now), can I begin to use the pan right away after a first good seasoning, or should I be repeating the seasoning process a few times first? I'm itching to go in the kitchen right now and attempt to scramble some eggs, just to see what happens...but, I'll try to control the urge until I get a response here.  WOW...I've never felt this unsure about anything in the kitchen!! I will be ever grateful for a prompt reply here!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Yeah, you cooked the oil just enough so it did not fully polymerize.  It simply became sticky.

While there are a lot of people that are strong advocates for seasoning cast iron before using it, I really think the thing to do is to just start using it.  You'll use a bit more oil in the beginning, but eventually, a seasoning layer will accumulate. 

zumwege McCoy


Joined: Jul 31, 2008
Posts: 12
Hello to all!

I am looking for a cast iron griddle about the size of half of a stovetop.  I'd like a rectangular shape to get the most griddle space out of it, and I'd like to have edges that are high enough to do something like fry breaded fish in it (say, 2 inches high).  Anybody ever come across such an animal?

Many thanks!

zum Wege
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I used to have one just like that!  A griswold!  I gave it to a friend.
zumwege McCoy


Joined: Jul 31, 2008
Posts: 12
WOW!!!

I can hardly believe it!  There is such a thing, and it's even a Griswold!

Could I ask you a few questions?

First off, how would you heat it?  There are some griddles that can be heated over 2 burners on a stove, but I would be concerned about hot and cool areas on the griddle.  What do you think?

Would you expect it to work with an induction stove?

And lastly (at leat for this time around ), can you give me any information that would help me to get my hand on one of these?  As of yet I don't remember seeing one on ebay, just griddles with low sides.  Would you call it a griddle, or a "rectangular skillet," or...

Thanks!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I've never seen one with high sides. There are issues with my griddle that spans two burners. The middle is cool, you just have to adjust what you are cooking. I use it to my advantage and often move an "almost done" item to finish up into the middle. Its great for making english muffins.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I set mine over two burners.  There were spots that were cooler than others, but not too bad.

I have never used an induction stove, so I have no idea about that.

I would go to ebay and search for "griswold griddle" - about 1 in 7 are this kind.
ronda McCoy


Joined: Aug 14, 2008
Posts: 4
This was a great article, I bookmarked it immediately.  I honestly can't believe I just sat for EIGHT MINUTES watching you cook eggs  lol!  And it was time well spent!   

zumwege McCoy


Joined: Jul 31, 2008
Posts: 12
Thanks for the replies!  Thought I'd fill y'all in on how things have turned out (thus far).  I ended up buying an electric griddle with a cast iron cooking surface.  That griddle is SO heavy!  Well, like you wrote in your artcle, Paul, the top is very rough; apparently not machine-smoothed, so I've got some work ahead of me!

I haven't solved the problem about 2" sides yet, but this griddle does have a little bit of an edge, higher in the back and on the sides.  If I could plug the drainage hole, I could perhaps cook with a thin layer of oil or other liquid.

Have a great day!

zum Wege
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
ronda wrote:
This was a great article, I bookmarked it immediately.  I honestly can't believe I just sat for EIGHT MINUTES watching you cook eggs  lol!  And it was time well spent!   




I haven't had that up very long and it has been viewed more than 1500 times!

Wow. 

I just figured me talking about it doesn't quite get the point across like seeing it in real life. 
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
zumwege wrote:
Thanks for the replies!  Thought I'd fill y'all in on how things have turned out (thus far).  I ended up buying an electric griddle with a cast iron cooking surface.  That griddle is SO heavy!  Well, like you wrote in your artcle, Paul, the top is very rough; apparently not machine-smoothed, so I've got some work ahead of me!



Can you show us a picture?

What have you cooked on it so far?  How is the stick factor?



zumwege McCoy


Joined: Jul 31, 2008
Posts: 12
This is more or less my model:

http://www.lincat.co.uk/products/lynx-400/griddles/lgr2

So far I've cooked bacon on it.  One time.  I ordered a couple of spatulas: straight front edge, rounded corners, I hope.  But my order has had problems, apparently, because I have yet to see a spatula delivered!  So, I cooked my one package of bacon using a cheese slicer(!) (straight front edge, rounded corners  )as a spatula on the day my griddle arrived, and have been waiting with baited breath ever since for the real thing (spatula)! 

But as far as "stick" goes, I really don't expect much at the beginning.  The surface looked really rough.  I have planned pancakes, but I have my concerns.  I could plan other things, but, like I said, I'm waiting for a spatula!

----------------

And I would like to give you a big THANK YOU for your article, Paul, and for this forum!

zum Wege
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I recently tried to buy a spatula for a friend.  I first hit a couple of thrift stores.  And then some kitchen supply stores ... nothing!

Of course, I was being pretty picky.  I wanted the right kind of edge, plus I wanted a wood handle - sometimes I like to leave the spatula in the pan for a little bit, but I don't want the handle to get too hot.

Wood handles just don't go well with dishwashers - and I suppose that USDA folks might be weird about them.  So wood handles is rare.  I spent the better part of an hour finding something acceptable and then ordering it.  When it arrives we'll see if it meets my freakish standards.
zumwege McCoy


Joined: Jul 31, 2008
Posts: 12
Yippee!!  Spatulas arrived yesterday!  We had pancakes for dinner!  It was kind of like a little family party!

As for the spatulas: I ordered them from a place that sells professional cooking equipment (and more) to restaurants, hotels, etc.  I have one that looks like a regular spatula, just "overgrown"  (like a "goliath" spatula).  The second spatula is one of this style:

http://www.edelstahl-in-bestform.de/messershop/eurocut-imbisspalette-von-dick.html

and I used it yesterday.

As for my experience with the griddle:  WOW!

I had my concerns.  Since pancake batter is a liquid, I was afraid it was going to seep down into the deeper spots, which cover that rough, new cooking surface, and just give me a mess.  Imagine my pleasant surprise, when the first pancake just willingly let itself be picked up and turned over!  Worked beautifully!!  So, I think we might do toasted cheese on it this evening, and maybe french toast next week.  Yippee!
zumwege McCoy


Joined: Jul 31, 2008
Posts: 12
Just thought I'd add a little note...  I was (and still am) excited about the non-stick-ness of my rough, new cast iron griddle.  But I just thought I'd mention that I typically cook with bare(=non-coated) stainless steel.  Somebody who is used to non-stick coated cookware might not be as wowwed as I was....


zum Wege
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
A really good friend of mine loves her cast iron, so does my sister & my mother used it for years. I gave all my cast iron to my friend except for one flat pan. Been procrastinating using it because it needs "seasoning". Guess I don't have any reason to put it off any longer. This is a great place to get information. Thanks!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14191
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Don't worry about seasoning it, just use it!
pjhull Hatfield


Joined: Sep 07, 2008
Posts: 1
Hello everyone,

You guys are great ...thanks for all of the good info I've already learned.

I had a set of three cast iron skillets.  I left them in my camper over the winter and they formed a pretty bad case of surface rust. 

Another site....before I found you guys....recommended soaking the pans in a solution of 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water, scrubbing the rust and then re-seasoning. 

The soaking went well, the rust came off very easily.  BUT....since then I have been trying to re-season the pans.  I've used bacon grease and shortening and baked at 300 degrees...several times.  I've brush scrubbed, with and without small amounts of soap in between seasoning attempts....AND STILL I keep getting a black sooty residue on the paper towel when I wipe the pan. 

Any suggestions

Thanks,
PJ
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
If it were mine I would scrub it up really good with soap and immediatly cook something greasy or purposefully heat it with a fat in it. Or you could try the self cleaning oven method if you have one.
 
 
subject: using a cast iron skillet ain't so hard!
 
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