Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Fun Find in Branson MO

Acting on a suggestion from Number 1 son, we hitched up the Airstream and motored over to Branson Missouri the other weekend for two days of unscripted vacation.  In spite of not taking in any of the shows the area is famous for (or maybe because we did not) fun was had by all.  Blissfully, although the outside temperature hit 106 degrees, the camper’s newly-repaired air conditioner kept us quite comfortable at the campground.

In a “first” for our family, we all went to an outlet mall together and no one got grumpy.  Swimming at Table Rock Lake helped us beat the heat as did the slide at the campground’s pool.

The first night there got exciting when 60 mph winds hit in the middle of the night and threatened to rip the Airstream’s brand new awning off.  I had to stand on the picnic table and turn the awning barrel by hand to get the awning rolled up because the wind kept catching it when we tried to roll it up the regular way.  That was excitement I’d rather not repeat.

In addition to shows & motels, Branson’s main drag also has a variety of shops.  While most of the businesses are tourist oriented, a trio of thrift shops caught Kim’s eye and we decided to stop and check for bargains.

While I enjoy looking, I can’t remember the last time I bought anything at a thrift shop, and did not expect this visit to be any different.  That was until I spotted something I had been looking for for the last eight years - an electric skillet in working condition without a Teflon cook surface.  The price was right at six bucks.  Number 2 son made a haul too – He found several Blue’s Clues video tapes he did not have for 50 cents apiece.

We had a great time during our short stay in Branson, and could visit again.  Maybe next time we’ll stay a little longer, and take in a few shows; we’ll see.

I was tickled to find the Teflon-less skillet because, while Teflon surfaces are good for cooking some things, I find it gives griddled foods like pancakes & hoecakes a leathery skin.  Even fried eggs have a different consistency when cooked on Teflon.

I prefer an electric skillet when griddling food because it is tough to control my stove-top griddle’s temperature across two burners.  To this end, I use a Sunbeam, non-Teflon skillet which dates back to the early seventies.

The skillet used to be loaded into the Airstream for every trip because we always have pancakes at least one morning during the outing.  In an effort to make the camper self sufficient, I have had an eye out for another non-Teflon skillet since Airstream trip #1 with no joy – no one now makes one, and none were showing up in yard sales.

Earlier this year, between laziness and concern about damaging the skillet, a new Rival Teflon-coated electric skillet was purchased for the Airstream.  Although the Teflon was expected, a glass lid was not - What’s the deal with glass lids on all new cookware nowadays?  That is a trend I hope blows over soon.

A day or two after getting home from Branson, my electric skillet collection was lined up on the kitchen table for comparison.

My “new” Presto KC81-A skillet, judging by its size, construction, and weight, appears to be quite old.  Although Mr. Google could tell me nothing about the model number, I believe the skillet dates from the sixties.  By far the heaviest of the three skillets, its mass should make it a good griddling skillet.  But my early seventies Sunbeam skillet does a great job with pancakes.  A cook-off between old and older may be in order.

Plugging the Presto skillet in reminded me of something new appliances don’t have nowadays – a long power cord.

Cooking without a Teflon coated surface takes more prep because the pan must first be seasoned, and the Presto skillet was dry as a bone.  While everyone has their own idea on the right way to season cookware, in this case just enough peanut oil was poured in to cover the probe on a digital thermometer so the thermostat’s calibration could be checked.

After deciding the thermostat was close enough, the oil was allowed to cook at 400 degrees for around 20 minutes.  After that the oil was poured out before pan-frying chicken fingers followed by hoecakes.

The skillet did a great job with both the chicken and hoecakes.  Both were enjoyed with a mess of home-grown string beans and acorn squash one of my friends had brought me that day.  The skillet is obviously ready for a return to prime time.

Hopefully, Number 1 son’s next destination suggestion will have a place that sells something he wants – Other than fond memories, all he came home with from Missouri was a new pair of Nikes.



  1. When we moved into our present house, which had been occupied for its entire existence by my grandaunt, we found a wonderful non-teflon-coated Sunbeam griddle in heavy cast aluminum, from the late 1950's. We had almost 100 years of accumulation in the house to clean out and had organized everything in "keep" and "estate sale" categories. The griddle was in the "keep" area, behind a closed door.

    And when my back was turned, my mother (who was helping with the sale) dug the griddle out of the room and SOLD IT. T_T

  2. I bet number 1 son would find a great souvenir if he selected Baltimore as his destination. The memories would be incredible on top of all of the goodies he would find. We could do a boys day out and pan for gold for just one thing...
    Now, the "griddle"...
    What you call a griddle, I call a skillet or electric frying pan. I have never owned one. A griddle on the other hand is something I use continuously. A griddle is made of heavy steel or cast iron. It does take a very special seasoning. I have found copious amounts of bacon frying does the job perfectly. The griddle I cook with at home is a big oval cast iron affair. It is an oval big enough to handle three grilled cheese sandwiches at a time. I cook a ton of stuff on that sucker. The Airstream always houses a large rectangular griddle that spans half the cook top of the Magic Chef. Two burners supply the BTUs and it makes the best pancakes. Years of cooking bacon has created a perfect non stick surface. Eggs just slide right off as if it was coated with teflon.I like crisp and browned foods and both the cast iron griddles provide that to me easily. Now when we cook for a group, I break out the Big Boy Griddle. 48" of 3/16" steel powered by FOUR 18" burners. ARRR ARRR ARR, MORE POWER(said like Tim the Tool Man Taylor). I have cooked for as many as 150 people on that sucker. I estimate(conservatively) over 500 pounds of bacon has been cooked over the years on that baby. It makes the perfect all American cheeseburger just like Flo fixed at the local lunch counter. When number ONE Son chooses Baltimore as his next destination, I will break that baby out just for him.
    Number One, It is 723 miles and there are a few amusement parks in between. Don't let your Dad tell you it is too far!

  3. Great blog entry – and really like the scrapbook-style photos!

    The famous entertainer, Andy Williams, has a theater in Branson where he provides wildly popular shows. Given your connection to Mr. Williams, I can only assume that his shows were sold out when you motored to Missouri.

    Just so you know: your Memphis relation does not use Teflon pots or pan because, if heated without food, Teflon emits an odorless poisonous gas that kills indoor birds. (sincerely!)

    When shopping for vintage cookware, please be on the lookout for a 12-inch Magnalite skillet. I got years of pleasure out of mine until a certain tall person broke the phenolic handle. (And why wouldn’t you use enough brute force to break a handle that is supposed to last a lifetime to flatten a boneless chicken breast?) The handle screws in, but I can’t locate a replacement online.