Wednesday, April 29, 2020

When Word Smithing Turns into Coppersmithing: A visit with Sara Dahmen


JENN McKINLAY: What do you do when your Today Show appearance is canceled because of a pandemic, well, you do the next best thing. You come and visit Jungle Red Writers and share your amazing, glorious, and beautiful book with us! 

Seriously, I was thrilled when Jungle Red friend and author Ellen Byron reached out to me to host Sara Dahmen. I absolutely fell in love with her story and her book -- Copper, Iron, and Clay: A Smith's Journey -- and I know you will, too!



Sara DahmenMy kids watch Mysteries of the Abandoned with abandon when I let them. One time they even highlighted a lighthouse near Wisconsin, in the middle of Lake Michigan, which brought the whole show closer to home. Mysteries are everywhere when we start to look, even in the mundane every day. Some of those mysteries get started only because we ask the question “why?” and there’s no real answer.

I asked “why?” one too many times five years ago, and it started me down a rabbit hole of metal which was full of mysterious chemistry, vocabulary words like “nanostructures” or “tool & die” (which is an actual aluminum plate, not a new murder term), and the desire to answer questions that didn’t seem to have answers anymore. It was like being a detective, looking at the past and realizing the past bled into the present, but in real life, not a book. What had started as passionate research on pioneer kitchens for my historical novels (TINSMITH 1865 and WIDOW 1881) became a new kind of passion about cookware.


Questions quickly developed, and they weren’t very grammatically correct. Questions such as: “What are you cooking on? What’s it made out of? Who made it? Where is it made? How exactly does it work and why was it used for hundreds of years and yet not anymore?


These mysteries weren’t easily answered in a Google search, or even looking to libraries. The last book on coppersmithing was published in 1894! Most of the information was locked in the mind of hobbyists, elderly gents who aren’t easy to find. 

Answering these questions meant going so deep into a subject that I turned into a coppersmith – as far as I can tell, the only woman coppersmith building copper cookware in America! Creating a cookware line based on early American cookware, finding an apprenticeship with a retired tinsmith, and taking over my garage with vintage and modern tools to restore and make cookware finally offered information. Turns out, half of the answers were in getting my hands (literally) dirty.


Did you know the term “breaking the mold” comes from blacksmithing? Or that we have changed our cookware and in turn our very stoves in the past 50-ish years based on what metal was left over from WW2? Did you know that until very recently, copper cookware was always lined with tin? How many people do you know who know how to season a cast iron skillet? All this lost information had left our kitchens for myriad reasons, and suddenly I was in possession of it all.

These discoveries to the lost trades and missing links in our kitchens developed into COPPER IRON AND CLAY: A SMITH’S JOURNEY – a full-color, hardcover published by William Morrow/Harper Collins and just hot off the press during the pandemic – that yes, outlines this crazy journey to answer the mysteries of our cookware but also talks about the history of our three basic cooking utinsels, why it works, how it’s built, and what the proper care is for each. Filled with interviews with the major cookware makers – Lodge, Mauviel, Ruffoni – and recipes from me and chefs of all walks, it’s a culmination of cooking, history, and all things copper, iron and clay. Who knew asking “why” about abandoned cookware would result in a book and a career as a coppersmith? Good thing mysteries are everywhere, eh? 

Jenn: Please note, Sara's book received a fabulous review from Publisher's Weekly!

So, Reds and Readers, what's your preferred cookware? And did you ever fall so deeply into research that it fundamentally changed your life?



To celebrate the release of her book, Sara is offering two giveaways! One commenter will win a signed copy of this fabulous book! And another will win copper straws! So cool!




Sara Dahmen is an award-winning writer and entrepreneur, as well as the only female coppersmith in America, manufacturing, restoring, and building copper cookware in her Wisconsin copper shop. 
Sara’s non-fiction book on the history, science, use, and care of cookware, Copper, Iron, and Clay: A Smith’s Journey, (William Morrow/Harper Collins) features her story, recipes, and interviews from the biggest cookware makers in the world, from Lodge to Ruffoni to Mauviel and more. She single-handedly runs her company, House Copper & Cookware, using tools from the 1800s as well as current power tools, and bases all her new designs on lost American cookware shapes, sourcing all materials from the USA. 
Sara has published over 100 articles as a contributing editor for various trade magazines, has written for Edible and Root + Bone, among others, and spoke at TEDx Rapid City on how women should enter the trades in order to save the trades themselves from disappearing. Her historical fiction Flats Junction series (Promontory Press, Inc.), including Tinsmith 1865and Widow 1881, has been critically recognized as well.


In her spare time, Sara sews her family authentic clothing for their 1830’s reenactment camping. Sara lives in the country outside Port Washington, Wisconsin with her three young children (ages 9, 7. And 5) and John, her husband of 14 years.










102 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your newest book, Sara . . . . I am absolutely fascinated. I must admit that I know next to nothing about the cooking pots I use, and now I’m so intrigued I’m anxious to read your book.
    What do you find is your biggest challenge in creating your cookware?

    Although I can’t say that research has ever fundamentally changed my life, it’s always been something I’ve enjoyed.

    My preferred cookware? Cast iron. I find that I gravitate toward it more than almost any other pot in my kitchen . . . and it makes amazing cornbread . . . .

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    1. I need to up my cast iron game, especially for cornbread. My mom used to have cast iron molds for corn bread in the shape of an ear of corn. I need to find those.

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    2. I made cornbread in my cast iron skillet last night! So fabulous!

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    3. Joan!! Thank you! I didn't know anything about cookware either before I started making my own! :)
      And let's see...biggest challenge? The research (love that you enjoy it too!) beforehand, actually - what is historically accurate for American kitchens but is also economical to build and sell? And cast iron...I have a whole drawer! I do hear it makes great cornbread (as all of you say!!) but I admit I usually make brownies in it instead! lol!

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  2. I'd heard about the book, but how great to find out the story of how it came to be.

    Congrats!

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    1. Isn't it? I can't wait for BN to get my copy in my hot little hands!

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    2. MARK! No way!!!! You had heard about it!!!!!!!?!?!?!? THAT IS SO FLIPPIN' COOL!!! Thank you!!!!

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  3. Wow! I am in awe. Copper is beautiful, isn’t it? One of my favorite things is a set with a sugar bowl and a creamer on its own small tray, all made of copper. My mother-in-law bought it in Mexico for me many years ago. As for cookware I’m not picky. We have all sorts. But like Joan said cast iron makes the best cornbread.

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    1. I have an obsession with copper - probably because we have so many copper mines in AZ - but I love cooking with it.

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    2. Clearly the universe (and all you lovely readers and writers) is telling me I need to try cornbread in cast iron vs a brownie mix... Love that you have a sugar and creamer set, Pat. (how do we do HEART emogis on here?!) And Jenn...you have to let me restore some old copper for you! I wish the mines in AZ were more active so I didn't have to always get from Texas. Variety is the spice of life!

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  4. Sara, you must be the coolest person I've heard of in a long time. You would be a great contestant for What's My Line? I am completely fascinated by your journey that led you to be a coppersmith and start making copper cookware. Your products have to be prized possessions by those buying them. And, I'd love to watch your TEDx talk about women entering the trades. Is it available to watch? I guess I need to Google that. I can't wait to read Copper, Iron, and Clay: A Smith's Journey. I also plan on looking up your historical fiction.

    Although I love to do research, I know I've never fallen down the rabbit hole quite like you, Sara. However, I am forever going off looking up related topics to something I've read in my fiction reading.

    I don't know if I have a preferred cookware. I do have one Revere Ware pot with a copper bottom that I really like, but they don't make those anymore. I'd love to find a set of pots and pans that I am completely satisfied with.

    So, congratulations on your book, Sara. I think that it will be quite the success.

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    1. They don't make Revere Ware any more? My mother bought me a set for my wedding and I use the pots constantly.

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    2. My Revere Ware (no copper) was also a wedding gift from my mother. 1982. They are great pans.

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    3. Yes, Revere Ware pots are long-lasting. I have had mine for over 35 years and use them frequently.

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    4. I have my wedding Revere Ware - 21 years and counting and copper bottomed.

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    5. Jenn - I do think they make Revere Ware but they change up the components a lot these days and the new copper bottoms aren't soldered well to the stainless anymore (I've had people contact me many a time to ask if I can re-attach copper to the bottom of their stainless Revere Ware...which I um...can't do...stainless and copper don't usually sit nice together for a long time unless really meticulously bonded). And KATHY!!! You have such a wonderful comment!! Thank you for the joy and support you put through your post! Yes, you can just Google my name and TEDx and you'll find the video. It was well before that whole maker movement / #metoo thing lol, but was so fun to do! Thank you for everything and lovely to "meet" you :)

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    6. Here's the skinny on Revere Ware. It's the story of it's not your mother's Revere Ware. As too often happens, quality gets watered down. That's another reason that Sara's cookware is so special, that it uses the copper the way it should be used to make outstanding pieces for optimum cooking and endurance. The link to one of the Revere Ware pieces I read is https://www.reverewareparts.com/about-revere-ware/

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    7. Oh thank you, Kathy - "it's not your mother's Revere Ware" is the best way to sum it up! Which is sad...it gets all about the bottom dollar. Which I get! And I'm not good at trying to squeeze every penny out of customers...so thank you for your lovely words about my cookware. Hopefully this book starts to re-calibrate thinking about cookware. A kitchen stocked with the heirloom, tried and true pieces and nothing else is a kitchen set for centuries!

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  5. Congratulations Sara on the release of your new book. Being the only female coppersmith in the USA making copper cookware is so good!

    I love to cook, so I am picky about my cookware. I got rid of my Teflon-coated frying pans due to the health concerns 3 years ago. I now mainly use 2 modern copper-based pans and 1 large copper-based pot which work great. I like that I have to use very little/no oil in my cooking, and the pan has good heat retention. And then I have Revere Ware stainless steel pots for boiling/cooking smaller foods.

    Good luck and have fun with Ellen, Leslie, Edith/Maddie at tonight's FB launch party. They are great writers, food lovers and a lot of fun to hang out with!

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    1. Grace, I need to hear more about your frying pans!

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    2. Lucy, here is the web link.
      https://www.copperchef.com/cookware/copper-cookware.html
      Hmmm, the website says it is the #1 best selling cookware brand in the USA. Is that true?

      I bought mine via our Shopping Channel (Canada's version of OVC), not direct from the company.

      I have the 11" XL deep casserole pan and the 10" and 8" frying pans.

      But I wish I could get artisan copper cookware like Sara's!

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    3. You're welcome, Edith. I have a cheaper enameled dutch oven that works for other oven-based meals. I wish I could afford to buy a Le Creuset pot!

      And I wish you could edit in Blogger...it should read QVC (not OVC) above!

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    4. So glad Ellen brought Sara over here, too! Fascinating subject!

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    5. Thank you for the support ladies!!! The Revereware will never get old!! I probably shouldn't comment on cookware here or I'll get in hot water, but I guess that IS what the book is about...just FYI the Copper Chef pans have zero copper in them...the copper color is paint (eeek!)!! I looked up the manufacturing patent when they came out because I was curious and there is not a lick of copper in the layers of metal they use in those. Which is not important, really - if they work for you, go for it!! And no oil is GREAT and soooo healthy!! (I do not use oil either as we eat very Nutritarian (which is like hyper-vegan)) So do what works for you! But it is true that the Copper Chef pans do not have any copper. I can find you the ATSM guidelines for that if you like - but yeah...it's all marketing, baby! lol!

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  6. Yay, Sara! Everybody should know that Ellen Byron, Leslie Karst, and I (three culinary cozy authors) are celebrating Sara's book in a Facebook party tomorrow night, with questions for Sara and fun giveaways. https://www.facebook.com/events/686758138728750/ Hope you all can join us.

    I love my two cast iron skillets (big and little) and my Le Creuset enameled pots, especially the Dutch oven.

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    1. Sorry, the party is TONIGHT, not tomorrow! Doh...

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    2. No one knows what day it is anymore. Ugh!

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    3. LOL, yeah, it's what? Friday, April 87th today, I think.....

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  7. This is certainly different and very exciting! I love to do research and I know what you mean about going down the rabbit hole; I've never gone quite as far as you did though. So here's a big atta girl!

    I had once given my mother a beautiful copper tea kettle. It was probably quite expensive too. She said she liked it but then in time I realized I never saw it. Months or maybe years later I saw it down in the basement so I had to ask if there was something wrong it. She admitted there really wasn't but she hated how she had to keep polishing it.

    Recently I treated myself to some new heavy stainless steel pans. I like them except they are heavy and now I'm finding I avoid them. How am I ever going to build up my arm muscles to use them unless I use them?

    Please tell us a little about clay pots. Are they supposed to be glazed inside for food use or does it matter?

    Truly looking forward to reading your book, Sara!

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    1. LOL - on the workout with the heavy pots!

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    2. Judi!! So funny about your mom! My mom was totally afraid to use the copper pots I made for about 2 years. Then one year she tried one and sent me a photo of it on the stove with the words "my new favorite pot!!!" lol! Polish is so easy...KETCHUP!!
      And I hear ya - the heaviness is hard, but the weight means it is super good quality and won't warp as much with time and use. Totally worth it. Plus arm muscles are sexy. :)

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  8. Fascinating stuff! It sounds like the metal research and works is not your only rabbit hole, Sara. Making the authentic clothes for your family for camping trip is also something very unusual. We have not camped in years, although it was my favorite type of vacation. It ended once the kids got big enough to follow their own summer interests, but back then we bought all our LL Bean clothes and fairly modern tents and things with zippers. You are a brave, pioneering woman. I love your story of how you went from research to production to saving a craft that is almost forgotten!

    Your book sounds amazing. I frequently wonder about cooking pots and whether certain things are "old wives tales" or factual. If you cook in iron, does that help with one's anemia? Should one avoid aluminum cookware? How is the modern stuff produced? Is it important enough to stop using one thing in favor of another?

    My mother had Revere Ware, a whole set. That all went with my dad when he married my step-mother. I thought it was the best stuff because I grew up with it. So, I bought a set for myself when I was single and in my first apartment. Shiny copper bottoms. One of our family friends told me what to use to keep up the shine and I still have some of my mom's as well, but not much. I also have 2 cast iron pans and the Lodge is by far one of my favorites. I also have a enameled cast iron soup pot that I love to use, and Judi, it is heavy, especially when it is full.

    I do not think I have ever gone down the rabbit hole researching anything. Ever. But, I truly admire people who do. I look forward to reading your book. It probably holds the answers to all of my questions about cookware and its manufacture and care.

    I'll definitely try to listen to you and Edith and Ellen Byron (whose books are so much fun). Best of luck.

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    1. Thank you Judy!! I do have a horrible habbit of going down the rabbit holes...maybe it's a side thing from doing historical fiction, though I have to say writing nonfiction was a whole new world!! In more ways than one!!

      I LOVE doing historical reenactment camping - the kids learn so much (how to flint knap! make string from stinging nettles! whittle!) and being outside that way, wearing a corset and teaching kids about coppersmithing is just a ball.

      And yes, all your questions are pretty much answered in the book! lolol! But asking the questions at all is the perfect first step!!! Giant hugs!!!

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  9. What a fascinating journey you have taken! Congratulations on your book release.

    I have to comment on one line of your post that jumped out at me: "How many people do you know who know how to season a cast iron skillet?" Answer: people who camp. Almost all Boy Scouts, and generally anybody who practices open fire cooking. Also, many of us with Appalachian roots. (I rarely remember a meal from my childhood that didn't involve a cast iron skillet.)

    I have a large anodized steel pan that has gradually become almost the only thing I use in the kitchen. I asked for it for Christmas two or three consecutive years and never got it, so that last year after Christmas I went to the store and bought it for myself. I gradually found that it worked not only for things I would normally make in a frying pan, but for some dutch oven recipes. And I have all but forsaken my wok, as I find it easy to stir fry in it, too. (My husband sheepishly admits that if he had realized how useful the thing would be, he would have bit the bullet and paid the price to get it for me. He thought it was just an overpriced kitchen fad.)

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    1. HA! Susan! I love the story about your anodized steel pan! Cooking tools with a story... I wish they could tell us what they've all seen and been through (not to mention things they've overheard!!)!! And you're right - Cast Iron Cooking over a fire is an actual badge - my oldest son just completed that last Fall, though they didn't really cover the care and clean-up. And yes, I do see most people in the south totally involved with their cast iron. Up here in the "nort-woods" it's less about cast iron. Weirdly.
      Anyway, thank you for the kind words!! So lovely to meet you!!

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  11. AM
    My mother brought me up on copper bottom pans, she always told me they were the best. And that’s what I still use… Yes, I think they are Revereware. I have a couple of cast-iron skillets which I adore, and a gorgeous copper bottomed and topped pan that is used for potatoes Anna. Recently :-) I have realized it is wonderful for other things! I wish I could show it to you, it is absolutely incredible. What a fascinating book! Wow… Tell us more about how different pans affect cooking! Is there a kind of pan you would never use?

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    1. My mom bought me my Revere Ware as well. Nothing else was even a possibility. When SIL had glass cookware my mom gave it some serious side eye. LOL.

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    2. (LOL Jenn about your SIL)
      Hank!! I don't know if you remember (I'm sure not!), but we met YEARS ago (ok, like 3 or 4) in Madison at the Writers Institute conference during cocktail hour. Lovely to re-connect with you here and this way!!!
      Potatoes Anna would be so good in a pan - I usually bake it in pottery, but will have to try it in a different kind of cookware. So...I would never use anything coated in a substance I can't pronounce. That means any type of aluminum pan with non-stick coating (usually they get that coating to stick with a "proprietary ingredient" aka something mixed with arsenic - not kidding. And each type of cookware is best for something particular based on how precise you want your heat over a stove or in an oven. For instance, the heat escapes from copper super fast, so it takes longer to bake in...but it's faster to cook in over a stove. Cast iron is great for super high heat. Pottery is amazing as an insulator of heat. The science is so much fun!

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    3. Oh, amazing! Love that connection...and yes yes yes. And this is absolutely fascinating. I don't use pottery at all to cook...hmm. Have to check into that. Thank you SO much! And oh-so interesting about copper. I'll try the potatoes again, and think about it in a totally different way, thanks to you! xoo

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  12. Sara, how fascinating! I love that your research turned into a passion. Oh, Sara also raises bees - if you are on Instagram, check out her latest Live story where she cooks for bees. :)

    I have the Revere Ware copper-bottom pots (two sauce pans, a pot, and a frying pan) I use the first three almost constantly. I have two cast-iron pans - an 8-inch and a 5-inch - that I use a lot as well. I just have to make sure to keep the heat low or else the food will burn. I love that I can put them in the oven or on the grill. And I do have a more modern nonstick pan, but not Teflon. It has copper coils on the bottom and the nonstick doesn't peel off they way Teflon did. The label said it's non-toxic. I hope so, because it's the only "non-stick" pan that actually does what it claims!

    Oh, and in addition to the Facebook party, Sara will be joining me on Instagram Friday at 4pm EDT for a Live event. We're going to talk cookware and recipes from the 1940s, when my protagonist Betty Ahern from THE ENEMY WE DON'T KNOW lived. There will be cooking and giveaways and Sara may even bring out her rivet gun. If you're on Instagram, follow me (@lizmilliron) and join the party!

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    1. HA! Yeah, I know, it's not the normal thing to cook in copper! But the bees were hungry!!! And the weather here in WI is awful so there is no way they are getting the handful of early flowers this week!

      You're totally right that the Revereware can get hot fast - the extra copper on the bottom heats the interior stainless faster (though the sides not as much/fast). And lol about your nonstick. Who knows?!

      We are going to have SOOOOO much fun tomorrow and I'm totally getting out the rivet gun.... :)

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  13. What a cool topic, Sara. I bet you are the only historical recreationist who made her own cookware! I'm looking forward to reading your book because I've wondered about the very questions you asked in this blog. I think about those questions every time I visit places that recreate life "back then" (like Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI). I'm especially fascinated by the durability of old, human-powered tools. Why do we no longer build things to last?

    I love my cast iron, all handed down from my parents and grandparents and, yes, I know how to season a new pan. In fact, I have Celiac disease and need to clean and reseason all my cast iron and I can't make myself put it in hot soapy water. It goes against everything I heard from my family for my whole life. Maybe I can talk my brother into doing it for me. LOL

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    1. Oh, thank you Cathy!
      Yes, I do tend to go into the deep end of the pool on research...no matter what it is! Visiting old historical villages and other centers (there are some in Metamora Indiana and in Ohio as well) is so much fun and you can learn so much from the people there. And BRAVO you for asking the hard questions! I can't wait to hear what you think of the book and what you learn!!
      Honestly, our desire for speed overrules the desire to make things to last. Which is a shame...hopefully that will change.
      And as for the soap in cast iron...HOT water goes a long way...but my uncle, who was a blacksmith for 30 years, said a tiny bit of Dawn is totally 100% ok, too. :)

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    2. Thanks for the cast iron tip, Sara!

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  14. Sara, what a great story! I'd love to read more. Copper is my favorite metal, including for jewelry. It's not easy to find, but I have a couple of stunning pieces collected at art fairs. But I've never used it for cooking. I always heard it was difficult to keep shiny.

    In the early 1980's I bought an interesting antique piece, a cherry dry sink with a drawer and one door. The lid opens up to reveal a copper tray liner in the top. We're using it as a bar in our new home, but I'm having trouble keeping the copper polished. And drips, especially alcohol, tarnish it. Any tips for cleaning and polishing? It's really pretty when it's shined up.

    I do actually know how to season a cast iron pan, and have kept one going for many years. I only use it, though, for fried chicken, fried potatoes, and cornbread. We should probably use it more, but I worry about using cast iron on the ceramic cooktop. It's great in the oven, though.

    Research did change my life at one time--isn't it a bit like the tail wagging the dog? I started out interviewing 200 people for a book and ended up with a 20-year publishing, teaching, and public speaking career. Still not sure how it happened!

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    1. Karen! I hope you do read it and learn lots!! Jewelry in copper is stunning (and something I cannot do - give me a big heavy pot anytime!) and cooking with copper is divine...it's not any harder to keep up than cast iron...cast iron needs seasoning every once in a while? Copper needs a bit of a scrub with ketchup every once in a while. Voila! :)
      So - the answer your question about the copper tray - try putting ketchup all over it and let it sit for a few minutes...rub it, and rinse. Repeat a few times if you need. I also LOVE Eve Stone's Antique Copper and Brass polish. It goes a long way for a long time and repels tarnish really well.
      (My mom also doesn't like using her cast iron on her ceramic top - same as you - but it DOES bake wonderful!)
      Totally adore hearing how research changed your life! Bravo you!!!!

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    2. Ketchup! Who knew? Thanks, Sara.

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    3. Right?! It's the best trick ever!

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  15. Thanks for this fascinating story which interests me greatly. Copper is such a rare resource nowadays. Years ago I bought a copper pendant which is a favorite of mine. Copper cookware is durable and safe which I enjoy using and long lasting. Congratulations and best wishes on your book which is a real treasure.

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    1. Thank you so much for your support! I wish we could share pictures - I'd love to see your pendant!!! xoxo

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  16. My Mom has a collection of Revereward pans she received as wedding gifts back in 1954, and I have permanently borrowed one of her saucepans. When we were growing up, we loved to polish the copper on the bottom of the pans. I think copper is a marvelous medium to work with -- I remember having an art project where we engraved (?) a copper square on the back side to make the image on the front. As you can tell, I basically love anything copper.

    I just bought my first cast iron skillet, and there seem to be so many different ways to clean and season it. I would love to know of a tried and true method.

    Congratulations on your book! I'd also love to learn more about your reenactment camping ~

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    1. Hi Celia!
      I know - it's so rewarding to polish copper!!! And the copper plates you mention were probably for doing engraving like how engraved wedding invites are don, or something...copper plates are used for that (and usually acid is used to etch the design into them...)
      To clean and season your skillet...well, that's about 1/4 of the chapter on Iron in the book!!! LOL! But the fastest way to use something you plan to use at least 1 time every 14 days is to wash with hot water (and if you wish, a tiny bit of soap), dry it really good or stick it back in the oven or stove to heat up a bit, and then rub a VERY thin coat of oil on it. Next time you use it, let it get hot before adding the food in, and you'll sort of season on the go!

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  17. Congratulations on your wonderful book. What a unique and fascinating subject. My father sculpted in soapstone and bought copper way back and made several beautiful artifacts for business people. I have always been interested in the copper field but it is difficult to locate any. Your work and research sounds captivating and very special.

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    1. Thank you so much! Copper sheet is actually easy to find at places like Menards (here in WI) or sometimes Home Depot - in the roofing section It's kinda pricey though...a roll would last you a long time! I hope you get into it someday!!

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  18. I have two skillets and a Dutch oven that were my mom's and are older than me (over 62 years) because I don't cook for myself like she did, I try to put a light film of vegetable oil in them after washing and heating them up for a couple of minutes to keep them seasoned. My other cookware needs to be replaced, period. It's a set of non-stick that's over 15 years old, probably closer to 20, scratched and not exactly non-stick anymore. Your book sounds interesting. I keep thinking my sister's family would really enjoy it. They are people who work with metal, building stuff and my niece experiments with new recipes all the time, often to my sister's kitchen's horror. Are your products available for purchase? I'll need to check them out.

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    1. Hi Deana!
      Ooooo, Dutch ovens with their covers are sometimes really hard to find! Does yours have little legs? You're doing a great job keeping them up so they don't rust - bravo!! :)
      And thank you re: the book! I would love your sister's opinion on it if she's familiar with metal (and loves to cook!)
      Oh! And yes, the products are available! You can visit www.housecopper.com Thank you a million!! xoxo

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    2. Hi Sara, yes it has a lid, bail handle but no feet, it's a stovetop oven design.

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    3. Love it. I have one of each and I totally use the stovetop one all the time. Or the lid for my bigger skillets if I'm frying something messy.

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  19. Sarah, congratulations on your book! Jenn's right, if you can't go on the Today Show, the Jungle Red Writers blog is definitely a great substitute!

    I don't do a lot of cooking so there's no way to say what my preferred cookware would be. A pot or pan does the trick but that's about as technical as my know-how gets. I suppose the most important piece of hardware for a non-cook like me would be the telephone. You know, so I can call for takeout. :D

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    1. ;) Right?!? At least I get to interact with you all vs staring at a camera!! :) :)
      I think your idea for cookware is brilliant. A telephone....maybe made of copper? So it's anti-viral!!! :) We just invented a new product!!

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  20. What an interesting book, Sara, and congratulations. I've been interested for years in how to cook and what to cook it in! My preference varies. I have an omelet pan that is All Clad, and it's perfect for eggs. For roasting meat, nothing better than some of my cast iron skillets, my favorite being a medium sized one that is a family piece, more than a hundred years old. Ceramic for getting those pie crusts brown and crispy on the bottom, a couple Staub cast iron dutch ovens for soups and stews and pot roast, and pyrex for bread, cakes, and anything that requires a 9 x 12 pan. Sometime in the last century I bought three saucepans, Magnilite, a brand that seems to have disappeared. They are very heavy, nothing light about them, cast aluminum, and they are possibly the best saucepans ever. I don't have any copper other that a few pieces of revere ware, ancient stuff.

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    1. You have a BRILLIANT Batterie!!! I love hearing how you use each piece - it's very spot on and pretty much what I do (though I use copper vs AllClad or aluminum) for pottery and iron!! You sound like a very learned chef ;) So happy to meet you on here!!!

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  21. I've got the same question about aluminum cookware... is it safe to use? Awhile back I threw all mine out when I read something about how, especially when you cook something acidic, something from the aluminum gets into the food and makes it toxic. LOVE my cast iron pans and I do season them.

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    1. I've been "exposed" to aluminium cookware for more than half my life, and so far so good. My three cast aluminum saucepans are incredible utensils. I can't imagine being without them.

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    2. Hallie (and Ann :)) I have actually never heard of aluminum leaching into food - in fact, it is usually quite inert as a metal (meaning non-reactive to food) which is why it's been a staple in our kitchens since WW2. So as far as I know, I don't think aluminum makes for toxins in food...HOWEVER, depending on how the cookware is made, perhaps like older pieces, they may not be food grade. It's hard to know off-hand, but you are probably ok if you buy them at this point (and look for Made in USA to be extra safe there are no other trace elements smelted into the aluminum)!

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    3. Excellent tip, thank you, Sara!

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  22. Sara, welcome to Jungle Reds!

    Jenn, thanks for the FYI about the chat.

    Thanks for an interesting history lesson. I remember seeing copper cookware on the walls of Hampton Court kitchens when my family travelled to England. Since I grew up with Iron cookware, I am used to it and I like using Iron.

    As a child, I wondered where the things used to make cookware came from!

    Diana

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    1. Thank you for your welcome, Diana! I am SO excited to be here and am enjoying this robust discussion on cookware immensely!!
      I LOVE Hampton Court (the gardens are to die for!) though we haven't been since 2004 and honestly I wasn't into cookware then so I probably completely missed the copper! Darn!!!
      Anyway - you will definitely learn all about the history and science and use of cookware in this...if you pick up a copy I can't wait to hear what you think!! :)

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    2. Just remembered that little detail. We visited Hampton Court Palace in the late 1980s! I look forward to the chat with you and Ellen Byron in about two hours from now (5 p.m. California time). I look forward to reading a copy!

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    3. Thank you! I so appreciate you logging in and for reading!!!

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  23. Jenn that was a wonderful blog today and so interesting we have several aluminum pans that we use all the time one of them is my husbands fav hamburger pan. Thank you for posting today and offering a print book. peggy clayton ptclayton2 at aol.com

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    1. Hi Peggy! Love hearing from you!! And hey, if the pans aren't broke, no need to fix! Hamburger pans! YUM!!!

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    2. Men and their fave hamburger pans :)

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  24. One by one I've discarded my late 20th century utensils and cookware--wobbly handles, rounded bottoms, Teflon insides, stained aluminum, and my favorite, spoons that melt in hot grease. Now I rely on wooden utensils and my grandmother's 1917 cast iron skillets. There's no better way to cook a steak!

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    1. Totally 100% agree that iron is the best for steak (or really, any meat if you're making it!)!! And wooden spoons are my go-to as well. I remember melting a spatula in chocolate as a teen...total shocker!

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  25. Sara, what a fascinating story, and a subject dear to my heart. I am ordering your book, but more important, I do need your help. In the late 1970's I started a small catering company called The British Butler. I had always loved to cook and creating a pate of smoked trout, which friends loved to eat, led me to my own company. A year or so later husband and I were in Paris on his business trip. I was determined to take home my own copper pan from the shop where Julia Child had bought her copper pans, E.Dehilleran. Victor went to work. I, with schoolgirl French, took the Metro and found the store. An Aladdin's cave of copper. Which to buy, what to choose? What could I afford? In the end I left with a 12" sauté pan. It was great for so many dishes. I would use it to make Bisteeya from Paula Wolfert's Moroccan cook book. Sadly it does need retinning now. Do you do this? Or do you have any leads for me. I would love to use it again together with my copper kettle which leaks now. As for my favorite pans; I have two Le Creuset, cast iron casseroles which were 21st Birthday presents. Still in constant use, but I would love to use my copper sauté again.

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    1. Celia!!
      OH I love hearing this is a subject you love!!! How fabulous!!! Thank you for sharing this wonderful story about your catering company as well as your trip to E.Dehilleran. They have such lovely copper!!
      You made a very astute choice in the 12" saute, and YES I do in fact re-tin - it's a huge part of my work as a coppersmith to re-tin and restore and refurbish old copper. I can fix the leak in your kettle too. :) Send me an email at housecopper@gmail.com and we'll get you all set up! How fun!!!!!
      (And thank you so much for ordering the book!!! xoxoxoxo! Can't wait to hear what you think!!)

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  26. Hi Sara, and congratulations on the book! It sounds fascinating. I've certainly gone down the research rabbit hole for books, but none of it ever turned me into an artisan! I love copper--our coffee table is copper!--but have never owned any copper cookware. I have two cast iron skillets (seasoned!), two Cuisinart stainless sauce pans and a covered skillet, which are more than twenty years old and great cookware. But my pride are my Le Creuset pieces; braiser, saucepan, Dutch oven, which stay out on my cook top because I use them so much. Keeps my arms strong lol! And then there's the entire set of black Le Creuset that my mom found in a box by her apartment dumpster years ago. That will always remain a mystery...

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    1. Deborah!! You have a copper coffee table!!! I wish I could see photos!!!
      And you certainly have a massive iron batterie - way more than me, even!! You should belong to the Griswold Cast Iron Association! (And yes, iron keeps ya strong for sure!!)
      Hilarious about your mom's dumpster diving...I do hear that can result in treasures but have never actually heard of it happening!!!

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    2. I feel like we could set a novel (anthology???) around the found cookware. Just sayin'

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    3. Jenn, I've made up all kinds of scenarios. A divorce, and hub threw them out, not having any idea how much they were worth. Or maybe he did know. Maybe they were given to someone who didn't like black? And who had no idea how much they were worth!

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    4. Such a great idea, Jenn! You're totally right! I've always thought doing a cookware-through-the-ages...where a single copper pot has gone through homes for 300 years and plays a role in history somehow. Sort of like People of the Book with the Sarajevo Haggadah.

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  27. Years back my son did a school report on wheelwrights. We were lucky to actually find one who talked with said son on the phone and gave him a very clear idea of what it is he does. It was a great oral report with son Evan portraying the wheelwright.

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    1. OH!!!! THAT IS SO COOL!!!!!! I've noticed a few people brining that trade back on Instagram, which is a huge balm to my spirit. Bravo to your son!!!

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  28. Sounds like an inspiring story and a profession that I don't know anything. about. I have lots of different kinds of cookware, but my favorite is my cast iron cookware.

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    1. You can't go wrong with iron. :) Seriously!!

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    2. I clearly have to up my cast iron game!

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  29. Congratulations on your new book!! I'm adding it to my list. I love research that takes me down down down a rabbit hole. And you carried it a few steps beyond - Good For You!!! i love this.

    I had a trip down a rabbit hole that ended with my publishing a book about Carousels of Paris, so I totally get this.

    Favorite kinds of cookware - My Microwave

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    1. Thank you Kaye! I appreciate it and can't wait to hear what you think!! And cheers to a fellow researcher! :) Now I need to go find your book! Is it under your name?!? I love reading books that have been written by people who followed a passion way deep!!
      (Your microwave thanks you for your business I am sure ;))

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    2. I absolutely adore your carousel book, Kaye. You can go down a Paris rabbit hole any time you want - take me with you!

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    3. Thank you, Sara! Yes, under my name.
      Jenn, you made me cry buckets with PIAAGI. Good tears. Let's go back.

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    4. I"m going to walk out of this with several more books on my nightstand (my husband is eyeing up the full Amazon cart now...)

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  30. This is really interesting. I never knew much about coppersmithing before, I'll have to find out more. I do get into research- if I run across a new subject or a random thought I have to go look it up. I love facts and trivia so it's nice to learn a new bit of info from an unexpected place.
    I love my mom's and grandma's Revereware and cast iron skillets.
    Congrats on the book!

    kozo8989@hotmail.com

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    1. Thank you Alicia!
      And so true - in this day and age, with the internet on our fingertips, it's so easy to go exploring down "info-road"!
      Revereware and cast iron are both classics and you can never go wrong!

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  31. Sara, Fascinating! I just ordered the book! We live in Erie, PA and have a huge collection of antique Griswold, most of which I still use! (I use the Dutch Oven a few times a week for my bread.) And I'm opening a pottery studio. I love using homemade pieces. They all come with a story.

    Now, I feel my copper cookware is severely lacking!

    Holly

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    1. Oh! Thank you, Holly! And yes, you are smack dab in the MIDDLE of cast iron mecca!!! I can't imagine your Griswold collection (I only have 2) and am jealous without even seeing it! CONGRATS on the pottery studio!! What is the name of it? Will you ship nation-wide?? (And yes, a single copper pot should round out your batterie for life. :))
      And thank you for ordering!!! SO MUCH!!!

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  32. Ellen Byron/Maria DiRicoApril 29, 2020 at 8:32 PM

    Sara, congratulations! The book is gorgeous. I can't WAIT to get a hardcover version of it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Ellen, for this connection and everything in between!! I can't wait for your hardcover to arrive and hear what you think! (The sound of the crinkle-crack of that binding..mmmm)

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