This Co-op Month, we are thrilled to be offering a few special prizes for folks that become a Member-Owner or make an investment in their share throughout the month of October. There are already some great incentives for investing this month (you can read more about them here), but in with the chocolate bars, reusable produce bags, and other prizes will be three golden tickets: one for bags from North St. Bags, another for a People’s tote bag stuffed full of our favorite fall essentials, and a cast iron pan from Finex!
Finex was founded by Mike Whitehead in 2012 after his wife started throwing out all of their nonstick cookware. He couldn’t find a suitable, healthier replacement on the market, but became obsessed with vintage cast iron skillets from the 1940s and ‘50s and decided to start making the pan that he had been looking for. Finex set out to recreate the classic 12-inch skillet and tried a lot of different designs, ultimately settling on a unique octagonal shape and coiled handle. The octagonal shape a big advantage: it eliminates the need for a pour spout on the side of the pan. You can easily pour from any of its eight corners, while a lid will still fit tight without releasing steam or heat to help your cooking. The squarer sides can also make flipping food over easier if you use the corners for leverage. The coiled stainless steel handle doesn’t get hot and cools faster, making the pan easier to handle.
The finishing and seasoning of the Finex pans also makes them something special. They are crafted in a way that gives them the same nonstick sheen of old cast iron pans, and lightly seasoned with organic flaxseed oil for a perfect cooking surface and an almost golden sheen. The pans are all polished by ceramic stones (check out the video on your right), and then tossed in oil-coated birdseed for the perfect application.
Finex pans are made in the USA of pure iron, just like the vintage cast iron that Mike was originally ogling. Each pan passes through the factory here in Portland to be polished and assembled, with most of the components coming from within 25 miles of the Portland factory. Each 12-inch pan has four parts that have to be assembled by hand.
A tour of the Finex factory in NW Portland.
Another great thing about this special cast iron is that you can really beat it up and still return it to fantastic working condition. Scorch it, scratch it, or even leave it to rust, but with some good oil and a little elbow grease you can fix it back up and have it ready for cooking again in no time. Finex pans also come with a lifetime guarantee, and are made to be passed down from generation to generation. The helpful folks there will help you with any pan challenges that you come across.
Come by the Co-op to become a Member-Owner or invest in your share, and with any luck win a lifetime of cooking with this awesome cast iron!
Skillet Baked Savory Cornbread
I enjoy cooking in cast iron on the stove top, but I also love baking in a skillet. This cornbread recipe makes use of delicious local fresh corn that we currently have in the produce department, as well as the terrific cornmeal and polenta from the bulk section. I love this cornbread with the savory flavors of jalapeño and onion, but leave them out if you would rather slather your cornbread with honey or jam.
½ cup of polenta or grits
1 cup buttermilk, or vegan milk or regular milk with a teaspoon of lemon juice added
1 cup cornmeal
½ cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup or 2 ounces grated cheddar cheese (optional)
2 eggs, lightly beaten, or 2 flax eggs (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons brown sugar or maple syrup
1 cobs worth of sweet corn kernels or ½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed (optional)
¼ cup thinly sliced chives or green onions (optional)
5 to 6 tablespoons butter, or substitute olive oil or other vegan option
For the topping:
½-1 jalapeño thinly sliced (red or green is great!)
¼ of a red onion, sliced as thin as you can!
¼ cup cheddar cheese
Heat your oven to 400°. In a medium bowl or 2-cup measuring cup, stir the polenta and buttermilk together. In a separate, large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. If you are adding the cheese, stir it into the dried ingredients. Stir the eggs into the buttermilk and polenta mixture, along with with the sugar, corn, and/or chives.
Meanwhile, melt your butter in your 12-inch skillet in the oven. Once it is melted, add all but 2 tablespoons to the polenta-buttermilk mixture. If you are using olive oil, add 3-4 tablespoons of room temperature oil to the polenta-buttermilk mixture, and heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix carefully until the dry ingredients are just moistened – don’t overmix it!
When the butter or oil in the skillet is hot, pour the butter into the skillet. It should sizzle a bit! Sprinkle the top with jalapeño, onion, and cheddar cheese. If you want a spicier cornbread, add the whole jalapeño or mix some into the batter with the wet ingredients. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean out of the middle and the cornbread is firm. Slice the cornbread and eat up!
For Two Flax Eggs:
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon water
Stir the water and flax meal together in a small bowl. Let rest for five minutes, and then use in this recipe!