Handy Items Week: Seagull Laundry Rack

Cait and her fiancé  iPM will be on a whirlwind tour of St. John’s this week, so the Pie and I will be playing host and tour guide while they’re here.

To keep you entertained until they get out of our hair and I can give you your own personal tour of my city, I’m giving you eight days of gadgets that I cannot live without.

Today is the ‘seagull’ laundry rack.

To save on our energy bills and to be nicer to the environment, the Pie and I try to air-dry all our laundry.

Because we live in Newfoundland, which is windy and damp all the time, an outdoor laundry line is out of the question.  At least on our street, which is a veritable wind tunnel.

I’ve had two of these seagull racks for years now, and they are fantastic.  They hold more clothes than the other styles of rack and the enamel coating keeps them from rusting or marking the wet clothes. They fold up nice and flat and are easy to store away.

At one point I tried to hang eight pairs of jeans on this rack and it kind of buckled.  But I’ve since reinforced it with two pieces of dowelling and some copper wire and now it holds all the heaviest clothes while I put the lighter ones on the other rack.

They cost me about $24 each at Loblaws some years ago.

Handy Items Week: Cast Iron Skillet

Cait and her fiancé iPM will be on a whirlwind tour of St. John’s this week (they arrived late last night), so the Pie and I will be playing host and tour guide while they’re here.

To keep you entertained until they get out of our hair and I can give you your own personal tour of my city, I’m giving you eight days of gadgets that I cannot live without.

Today we have the cast iron skillet. Actually, we have two, having purchased one recently.

Non-stick frying pans are great and all, but they don’t brown things well and sometimes you just need that extra-crispiness.

Cast iron is also handy when moving from the stove-top to the oven, as we saw with the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.

The trick to frying in cast-iron is similar to that of a barbecue.  Dab a little oil on the frying surface and let it heat up for a little while.  Don’t put your food in the pan until the metal is nice and evenly hot.  The instant contact of the food on the super-hot surface will help to seal in all the good stuff in your foot and will make a nice firm layer of cooked food that will help prevent your stuff from sticking to the pan.

Cast iron will, of course, rust if you don’t take good care of it.  A well-seasoned cast iron skillet, however, will last you for decades.

You can initially season a new skillet by rubbing the entire cooking surface with olive oil, and then putting it on your stove top at medium-high heat until the oil starts to smoke, or by baking it in your oven for a little while at about 400°F.  Leave the skillet to cool and wipe out excess oil before storing.

Never wash your skillet with soap.  If the pan is not that dirty simply wipe it out with a soft cloth to maintain the oil coating.  If there is a lot of stuff stuck to the pan, fill the skillet with boiling water and leave the excess oils and food to rise to the surface.  You can give it a scrub with a plastic scrubby as well.  Rinse well and place on your stovetop element to dry it quickly without rusting.

If you need to use soap to get out some really cruddy crud, make sure to re-season the pan before you put it away.

We store them with dish towels in between to prevent scratches.

Hob-Nobbing with Rust Paint

There is an iron grate, or hob, in front of my blocked-up fireplace.  It came with the apartment, to distract, I suppose, from the hideousness of the wooden door that obscures the hideousness of the fireplace itself.

In any case, it’s rusty.  It attracts dust and cobwebs and because it’s all rough with rust it’s hard to keep clean.  My dusting cloths just catch and don’t remove any of the crud.  It looks like it was painted at one point, but that it’s almost all worn off by now.   What isn’t worn off is the marking on the inside:

Design Copy Righted

by W. L. Sharp & Sons

1893

So it’s old.  And it’s kind of cool.  And I don’t want the rust to destroy it any further.

I’m going to re-paint it black.  I find that’s a good solution in this house.  If something is rusty and/or gross-looking, I paint it.  The paint seems to protect it from any further damage, and it makes it look a little better.  There’s a cupboard in the kitchen that I painted the top of black, to hide some horrible stains and to mimic our black counter tops.  I also painted the rusty light fixture in the bathroom to save me the eyesore.  I think it’s a good approach.

I got some eco-friendly CLR-type stuff I picked up at Shoppers a while ago.  It’s amazing how well it works.  Unfortunately I don’t seem to have it anymore, nor can I find it again.  Fortunately the hob isn’t THAT rusty, so I think I can just paint over it.  It should at least stop it from rusting more.

***EDIT: I of course found the CLR-type stuff under my sink at the very back the DAY AFTER I painted the hob.***

I did, however, attempt a vinegar/baking soda concoction to blast away some of the rougher stuff first.  I scrubbed it with a stiff brush, like the kind you use on your barbecue.

Rinsed it off with the hose and left it in the sun to dry.  We actually HAD sun for once.

Now to paint!

I’m not too concerned with a glossy finish here so I used semi-gloss rust spray paint (Tremclad, to be more accurate) and I’m not sanding down the hob because I don’t want to rub off something important.  I’m also doing this outside because none of my windows open and I want to live to plague the Pie a long, long time.  I painted in my little quarry because that’s where I do all my painting.  It’s out of the wind, nice and sunny, and if I get some paint on the rocks who is going to care?

Make sure to follow the instructions on your paint can for proper technique, like distance from object and drying time.

I did the first coat, waited the requisite time for it to dry, then did the second.

I brought it inside after a while because I was afraid of rain.

And there it is.  A definite improvement.