From time to time I will cook scrambled eggs for my parrots. Since I don't eat eggs myself, there is rarely an opportunity to just slip them some from the breakfast table. So on occasions I will put my cast iron pans to good use and cook eggs for my birds.
Basically the eggs that we cook and eat are meant as food for the development of an embryo. This is highly nutritious in protein and vitamins. So naturally if this makes good food and energy for a baby chick, it is fantastic for our parrots (but of course in moderation). I beat the eggs while heating up the cast iron pan. Since I'm cooking the eggs just for my birds, I crush some egg shell into the mix. I crush smaller and larger pieces into the egg and let my parrots decide what they want to eat from it. The egg shells are a rich source of calcium.
My cast iron pans are essentially non-stick after extensive seasoning. I simply spray a bit of cooking spray on the pan and then wipe it back off with a paper towel. This is all it takes for the egg not to stick to the pan. I try to get the pan very hot before pouring so that the egg cooks quickly and doesn't spread all over the pan. After several minutes of cooking and a flip, the scrambled eggs are ready for my parrots to sample. I rip the cooked egg into shreds and toss them into my parrots bowls. I don't wait too long so that the birds can enjoy the eggs warm. Check out this video. Not only does it show how to prepare eggs on a cast iron pan, it also shows how much the parrots enjoy them.
I scramble up eggs for my guys too. I also include the shells. I get organic eggs from my backyard chickens. I found a great "green" non stick electric skillet made by Cuisinart. It was a bit pricey, but well worth it. I don't use any aerosal sprays because my parrots are located too close to the kitchen and I've read that the aerosal isn't safe for them. Instead I have a Gourmet Mist sprayer that is manually pumped up with air to expell the canola oil on my pan. I got that at the grocery store located right above the oil in the cooking aisle. It isn't very expensive and I feel much safer using it. Sometimes I even make them birdie french toast with whole grain bread using eggs and no milk or butter. I also hard boil eggs and once cooled I chop them up and add back the shells. It gives the birds a little different consistency. They love eggs no matter which way their fixed. Looks like your two are enjoying their home cooked eggs, too!
[quote="ginger":22qz7lsd]I also hard boil eggs and once cooled I chop them up and add back the shells. It gives the birds a little different consistency. [/quote:22qz7lsd]
Ginger, I'm curious, how often do you feed your birds hard boiled eggs?
Here's what I want to know: How does one season cast iron?! I guess I could google it, but I want your advice. We only have one non-stick pan in the house which has a very minor scratch on it, but I fear using it because it will get worse over time.
[url=http://trainedparrot.com/index.php?bid=9&article=Parrot+Safe+Alternatives+to+Non-Stick+Cookware:1dcbtw7l]Parrot Safe Alternatives to Non-Stick Cookware[/url:1dcbtw7l] is an article I wrote that explains just this
There are also now on the market nonstick pans that are ceramic-coated rather than PTFE-coated. These are bird-safe and effective, but expensive. Cuisinart's Green Gourmet is one brand that claims to be bird-safe and I have two pieces of the material. I wrote a review (http://theparrotforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1781[/url:krld2har]) a while back, and most of that still applies after I've had the piece in use longer. The surface does require careful care and isn't an "only" skillet. You'd also want cast iron and/or stainless for high heat applications.
The scratch in the nonstick pan is bad mostly for y'all eating from it, but the coating is risky without the scratch. The coating will create dangerous fumes when heated to ~500°F, which sounds like a lot, but if you have an isolated egg in such a pan, especially with a lightweight pan, the parts of the pan around the egg may heat to much more than the temperature at which you think you are cooking the egg. So it is safest, indeed, to go for alternative materials.
I suggest buying cast iron pre-seasoned, it saves a lot of effort, and maintaining it meticulously. But if you are at all serious about cooking, cast iron alone won't fill all the niches you'll want. Braising in cast iron is just a no-no for example (well, unless it is enameled).
I've found that the "pre-seasoned" part about cast iron pans is a joke. They are still terrible at first and the pre-seasoning really is just a waxy coating to keep the iron looking good at the store until you get it.
A great way to preseason it yourself is to fill it with oil, rub it around, and bake it in the oven for a while (especially if you're using the oven for baking anyway). Then the real seasoning only comes through real use. Every once in a while you'll want to scrape off the grease build up and re-season it. After light use, don't wash the pan, just dab anything out with a paper towel. After messy use, wash it, dry it, and put on a burner lined with oil for a little while so that it is ready for next use. After about 6 months it is as good (if not better) than a non-stick pan. But unlike the ones containing PTFE, the cast iron will last a life time.
[quote="Michael":2xtbbvb2]I've found that the "pre-seasoned" part about cast iron pans is a joke. They are still terrible at first and the pre-seasoning really is just a waxy coating to keep the iron looking good at the store until you get it.[/quote:2xtbbvb2]
This is not my experience, although the quality of the pre-seasoning does vary. I got an expensive Emerilware grill pan that was not well seasoned at all to start with. It had some coating started, but was not very nonstick. However, I have a couple of relatively inexpensive Lodge Logic skillets that were pretty close to usable out of the package.
Even with a pre-seasoned pan, they need to be oiled and heated, but a completely unseasoned pan will be sticky as Hades, dull grey rather than black, and it will need HOURS of oil, heat, oil, heat, oil, heat until it turns black and begins to develop a patina. You are right that the pre-seasoning may, or may not, be sufficient, but it is actually hard to find non-pre-seasoned cast iron other than from professional restaurant supply houses. Woks are more often a start-from-scratch proposition, but there are folks who swear by their own special process. I think for the average person, pre-seasoned at least gives you a good jump up on the process. MHO.
Ah ok. Well then I think the ones I got were sold as "pre-seasoned." But practically speaking it took 6 months of use to reach perfection. It took several uses before things would even remotely not-stick. To me it seems that the pre-seasoning they come with is just a protective finish rather than a non-stick kind of seasoning. Of course I haven't sampled as many brands as you so I cannot speak for all the products out there. To me it seems that actual use is the absolute best seasoning.
Typically what I do is scrape off anything stuck to the pan with a knife or something. Any dried things stuck to it pop off easily because of the seasoned coating developed underneath. Then I pour a bit of cheap vegetable oil into the pan after use and then wipe it back off with a paper towel. The oil catches crumbs and picks them up. Hopefully this wipes everything out. And the oil you rub into it makes it not stick the next time around you use it. Of course if I had a sauce or something really messy stuck in the pan I'll wash it. But if I wash it, I re-season it by flooding with oil and running heat on it for 5-10 minutes. If I don't wash it, then just rubbing oil around is fine. I try not to wash the pan more than once per four uses. Also I spray a bit of cooking spray prior to cooking on the pan to prevent sticking but I wipe most of it back off so that it doesn't make food soggy. You only need a little between the pan and food once the seasoned coating is developed.
[quote="pchela":8g55ugh9]But... what about all of the bits of food???[/quote:8g55ugh9]
I was taught that you can "wash" cast iron, but like Michael said, you just don't use any dishsoap. And I've found that until my cast iron pans get good & seasoned, I sometimes need to do more than rub water around. In those instances, I fill my pan 3/4 full of water & put it back on the stove. Bring the water to a full boil & then drain the water off. That usually loosens any food that was remaining stuck on the pan. Then do the standard oiling, heating, & wiping process before putting the pan away.
Oh yeah, & unless you're spraying a ton of Pam on the pan, you should use something like vegetable oil or even Crisco. You want a pretty heavy layer of oil on there to really seep in.
Yeah, you don't have to cook on a ton of oil, but you do need it to season. Pam is good to use at time of cooking to prevent sticking, that's all. Cooking a few burgers, bacon, etc really helps season the pan. I've found that varying the kinds of fats/oils you use on the pan does the best seasoning job.
I'm not so sure about boiling water in it though... I just use a wire brush to scrape everything out of it. I always heard to use minimal amount of water/soap possible. If you use the pan right, once seasoned, these kinds of hard scraping sessions should become minimal.
Oh and NEVER put cast iron pans in dishwasher!
Well, I rarely use dishsoap but I do scrub it out every time I use it. I guess I'm not using enough oil. I read online how to season it but I guess online info isn't always accurate. Thanks guys! Will try your suggestions.
[quote="pchela":2yqr9veg]Well, I rarely use dishsoap but I do scrub it out every time I use it. I guess I'm not using enough oil. [/quote:2yqr9veg]
I actually use a bit of soap on mine... my main objection to cast iron is that it is hard to keep it sanitary and nonstick at the same time. I'm not a big Martha fan, so I didn't watch the video, but my routine is as follows:
Buy allegedly pre-seasoned pan
Coat the cooking surfaces liberally with peanut oil (it has a high smoke point). Heat on gas stove to smoke point. Allow to cool. Wipe out excess oil.
When using pan, add enough oil to film bottom of pan. Preheat pan until hot. If browning ingredients, rather than doing cornbread or something like that, add food -- preferably room temperature, cold food sticks more -- and resist urge to stir or turn until well browned.
Allow pan to cool to room temperature after use, don't shock with cool water.
Wash as for a normal pan, with soap and water, but do the job quickly and with minimal soap and minimal scrubbing, just what is needed to get the food debris thoroughly out, while attempting not to remove the black, seasoning layer.
Dry thoroghly. I use a clean paper towel, or cloth and then heat on stove to drive moisture out.
Lightly wipe with oil, heat to smoke point, allow to cool and store.
I don't like just wiping and storing, although it's quite a common and frequently recommended technique. Too much risk of growing ickies IMO.
Note that smoking oil is not great for birds to breathe either, so I usually do those steps when they are tucked in for the night, and I turn the kitchen fan up until the pan is fairly cool again.
[quote="entrancedbymyGCC":esj8e9oy]I don't like just wiping and storing, although it's quite a common and frequently recommended technique. Too much risk of growing ickies IMO.[/quote:esj8e9oy]
Hopefully the oil keeps stuff from growing and even if it does, heating the pan up next time should kill anything sufficiently.
Stuff can grow in oil... think about what acne is! Plus, I grew up in FL where roaches will come to anything with traces of food --- BIG ones -- that FLY --- so I tend to err on the side of clean when it comes to kitchen stuff. Actually, I probably would not keep cast iron there, unless it was sealed in ziplocs or something.... even the residual oil in the seasoning layer itself might attract them. Ugh.
At any rate, using soap and water need not ruin the seasoning on the pan. Excessive scrubbing and soaking are IMO much more likely to do so. Hit and run!
I almost always offer my birds hard boiled eggs instead of scrambled eggs. I boil them for quite a while to make sure they are really hard boiled. Iggy loves eggs. I don't give it to them very often though.
When you guys scramble eggs for the birds what do you put in the pan before scrambling them? I don't want to use butter or margarine or anything like that. Maybe red palm oil? That would be funny and I definitely have some.