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What's The Oldest Thing You Cook In/With?

Prompted by a very nice CH'er, I am asking folks to identify the oldest thing they cook in or with. Is it Gran's Griswold? A 2010 sous vide bath? An Etruscan clay pot? A precorporate takeover Williams-Sonoma? Next year's Tramontina? A Colonial cauldron? An [shudder] induction range? A T-Rex tooth?

I gonna keep my powder dry on this one. Except to observe that if there's nothing in your kitchen older than YOU are, you're missing something.

Aloha,
Kaleo

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  1. When I graduated from college in 1960 my mother gave me some items to start my apartment kitchen. One of them was a 10-inch cast iron skillet that says on the back, "Piqua ware, the best to cook in." She told me she'd had it for a number of yhears before I was born. I still use it all the time, including tonight. Nothing else works as well for browning meat, and it is very versatile. Since I'm 73 next week, the skillet has to be closing in on 80, and it's still going strong.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jack

      Thanks, Jack. I never had the pleasure, but I've heard that Piqua was also famed for making most excellent *real* Dutch ovens (those would be the ones with feet, a/k/a "spiders"). They're quite collectible, and not just for wallhangers. Hope you get 80 more out of her.

      1. re: Jack

        I bought a piqua ware skillet last fall and love to cook in it.

      2. My husband. Ha, I crack me up. I occasionally use my depression era rolling pin with rolling handles but I don't bake much. Lots of the stuff I use daily is from when my parents got married & got house in 1964 and 1967 respectivly. Pyrex nesting bowls and a Sunbeam hand mixer with enough power and torque that it beats any availabe now.

        1 Reply
        1. re: calliope_nh

          I have a Dormeyer hand mixer from the 50s (it has fins) that can mix anything in seconds. I have a lot of vintage cookware that I use regularly.

        2. I have a Dexter knife that is probably close to 100 years old. It is a slicer/bread knife and is the first knife I grab for slicing meat and bread. It is sharp, takes an edge well, and doesn't leave a lot of crumbs on the board like a serrated knife sometimes does when slicing bread. I bought it for a buck at an estate sale. I also have my grandmother's Vollrath cast iron 10 inch skillet but I don't know how old it is. She married my grandfather in 1922 so I suppose it is from the '20s or '30s. We have an old aluminum 5 quart kettle at our place up north (that's Minnesota speak for cabin in the woods) that my father remembers was my grandmother's go to kettle for just about everything. At first I thought it was too small for her to use to cook meals for her family, then I realized she was not cooking to have a lot left over to put into the freezer because they didn't get their first refrigerator until 1949.

          1. I have an enameled collander that was my Grandmother's, so it may go back to the 1890's-1900's . My Dad was the oldest kid, and he was born in 1922. I also have a lot of my Mom's stuff that she bought when they got married in 1950 KitchenAid mixer w/glass bowl 3-C, Griswold, and Wagner frying pans, and lots of Revere Ware SS pots, plus much more. I like the old gear myself.

            1. When kaleo first floated this question in another thread, I thought there was nothing here older than the 1920s-1930s cast iron skillets (one Wagner, one unknown) ; they were in the kitchen of my mother's household when she was growing up.

              But JohnE's post helped me remember the grotesque but very very sharp carving knife, with a long carbon steel blade and a handle made of some animal's horn. Brrrr.... high Victorian, from my great-grandmother's household in the 1880s. It makes paper-thin shavings of a country ham, though, so earns its spot (wrapped in a dishtowel in the back of a drawer, so I don't have to look at it unless it's in use).

              Some of my favorite mixing bowls are Depression glass: a pale green Hocking with nice heavy base and tall sides, and nesting sets of amber Federal and grass-green Hazel Atlas, all dating from 1932-38.

              9 Replies
              1. re: ellabee

                Yes! I have an old knife set like that, also with the serving fork and sharpening iron - all with those gnarly handles. Can't say I use them, though. You've inspired me to drag them out and give them a try.

                1. re: Languid Lass

                  Hi, Languid:

                  Those "gnarly handles" may well be European stag. If large and in good shape, they can be valuable for any knife requiring a sure grip (as if any don't). The closest approximation (and a poor one at that) is Sanbar staghorn from India/Pakistan.

                  Yet another reason not to eschew "old".

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    heh. Horns? That's easy stuff.

                    We saw some vintage knives at a flea market using *hooves* as the handles. No, not the hard part, the whole lower portion of a small cloven-hoofed animal's leg. Fur and all.

                    1. re: sunshine842

                      I had a knife like that when I was a kid, Does hoof for a handle, another good gift from my drunken uncle

                      1. re: Dave5440

                        Hey Dave5440:

                        You had one too? Mine was a B-17 pilot, Silver Star, Stalaag Luft 3, let me (try to) break teacups with a .22 at about 150 yards with open sights. Good old soul. Yours?

                        Aloha,
                        Kaleo

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          Nope pretty much just drunk, still is , been nearly dead for at least 10yrs. I learned all the gun handling and hunting from the "bad" crowd I ran with. As a side note I'm not sure what they saw over in the old country but my grandfather (2 time pow russian then german) and uncle where/are wicked drunks who had no use for a panty waste like me.

                          1. re: Dave5440

                            Hi, Dave5440:

                            Being from an old German military family (now there's an oxymoron!) myself, I know that gruffness well enough to assure you that's not what they'd say about you to others. Many of these are the kind of guys who picked up rifles and fought close relations for what they believed in America. For many of them, living longer is no blessing, so I'm willing to buy them another round and listen. Even if they're mean drunks.

                            Aloha,
                            Kaleo

                            1. re: kaleokahu

                              That's the hungarian side and I won't repeat what he used to say about me to the rest of the family needless to say I didn't see him the last 10yrs before he died, the german g/f died at stalingrad,

                        2. re: Dave5440

                          I found one of those 'hoove' handled knives also at a swap meet. I wrapped it up and gave it to a 'level seven' vegan relative for Christmas.
                          'Level seven'? She can not eat anything that casts a shadow. LOL