Archive for the ‘helpful hints’ Category
**I apologize for the delay in today’s post! I know it’s Wednesday, but just ignore that fact. I was out at the premier of Eclipse last night. I do hope you can forgive me. Both for posting late…and for going to the premier like a teenager.**
The World Health Organization has recommended cooking in iron pots as a way to reduce the incidence of iron-deficiency anemia. Cooking in cast iron also increases absorption levels of plant-based (nonheme) iron.
Not so long ago, in fact, if you reach back into the archives of your memories, I’ll venture to guess that every single one of you can remember there being a big, black cast iron skillet on your grandma’s stove, even your mother’s stovetop. I think we all grew up with them. Almost every cook in America kept a cast iron skillet on the stove. It wasn’t until after WWII that other metals began to be used for cookware. Aluminum and stainless steel pots and pans were lighter, and the new non-stick coating made them easier to clean. After that, the cast iron skillet found itself ousted from the stovetop and into the bottom cabinet. Heck, I grew up cooking on one, had one when I first got married, and even cooked with a cast iron dutch oven. Before long, I don’t know why, I quit using them. I think the old cast iron is starting to make a comeback, and there are a lot of good reasons for that. It truly is a pan for all seasons – you can sauté, sear, braise, deep-fry, bake – plus the pan provides consistent heat at high and low temperatures. It’s not only non-stick, it’s virtually indestructible, and the only cookware you can use on the stove, in the oven, on the grill, and back again.
If and when you decide to take the plunge, and purchase one for yourself, there are a few things to understand. You have to season the pan, and take care in keeping it well seasoned. It is iron, after all, and it will rust, if not cared for in the correct manner. Nowadays, cast iron cookware comes preseasoned by the manufacturer and ready to use, but if you are lucky enough to find one at a garage sale, it could’ve been one of those that have been put in a back cabinet for years, in which case, you’d have to season it yourself. But if you want to rehabilitate a yard-sale find or Grandma’s skillet, here’s how:
Line oven rack with foil, and preheat oven to 350.
Clean skillet well with dish-washing liquid, using steel wool to remove any rust spots or stuck-on food. Dry well with paper towels (lingering rust can stain fabric).
Rub skillet inside and out with vegetable oil or lard. Place in oven upside down on foil-lined rack, and bake 1 hour. Turn off oven, and cool pan in oven before removing.
Well-oiled machine: 3 tips for keeping your cast iron cookware in top shape:
- Wash it with warm, soapy water – never soak it, and never put it in the dishwasher.
- Rub a small amount of vegetable oil all over the pan after each use.
- Store pan in a dry, well-ventilated spot – such as the stove top!!
There are many recipes out there where you can bake right in the skillet. You can bake upside down cakes, frittatas, cornbreads, etc. Slow-cooked dishes are ideal for cast iron cooking because the metal holds an even, low heat. A well-seasoned cast iron skillet acts like a nonstick griddle without a lot of oil. And, every time you eat something you have created in the pan, you get a little bit of iron. You don’t have to limit cast iron only to skillets. You can use grills, dutch ovens, etc. I challenge you…….bake a deep dish pizza in a skillet. You may just find your favorite cookware. And if you own one, or want to try one, just look for it on youtube, and you can watch a variety of videos on caring for, seasoning, and cooking with it.
Tami’s Tip of the Week:
Say goodbye to greasy filters. Run the fan filter above your stove through the dishwashing cycle a couple of times to get rid of greasy buildup. I’ve tried this, and it works GREAT!! I never could get it all out washing it in the sink.
Have you ever wandered into a “framing” store? Ever had to get a picture or print framed? I have, and let me tell you, it’s not cheap. My sister brought me back a print from Europe, and since she spent good money on the thing, and hand carried it back across the ocean on a cruise ship, I figured I would go ahead and get it framed at an actual frame store. I took it into Aaron Brothers, told them what I had in mind, and they picked out the perfect frame, mats, and UV protective glass. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy with it. Loved it, in fact. But it was pretty expensive. Over $300 at the time, and that’s just the frame!! But, I didn’t pay for the print, so it was probably a good deal.
Anyway, my cousin is a photographer, and he was over not long ago, and used our bathroom (which is my husband’s bathroom, and it’s all done in the hunting and fishing theme). He came out of there, and said “Dan, have I got a picture for your bathroom”! He took a picture of an elk at Northwest Trek, and told us that he was going to give us a print of it. He had it made into a 20×30. Well, the first thing my husband said when he got it was “Oh, I need to get this framed”. In the back of my mind, I was thinking, “Yeah, and it’s not going to be cheap, especially by the time you add the matting, that frame will be 40×30”! So, I did what any thrifty wife would do. I set out to get it in a frame before he had a chance to get it done.
I have, in the past, bought quite large pictures at Ross, and at a very good price, I’ll have you know, so I had something in mind before I even stepped foot in the place. I rummaged through the picture section, until I landed on the perfect picture for what I had in mind. I found this………
It was the perfect size, and had the dark matting, and everything that I wanted. Retail price: $39.99. Such a deal!! But, it had one flaw. The glass in the very corner was cracked.
So I asked if they would discount it (I would just take the glass out), and they gave me a 20% discount. So my picture frame was now $32.00!! Such an even better deal.
It looks great, and the color was perfect. So, the next time you need a pretty big, or even different looking frame, just go to Ross or Big Lots, check out their picture section, and swap out the pictures. It is SO much cheaper than buying the frame at a frame shop.
Tip of the week: Help with hang-ups. Here’s a handy way to help your picture stay straight after you hang it. Wrap masking tape, sticky side out, around a toothpick. Attach it to the bottom of the back of the frame. It will be just sticky enough to steady the frame without leaving a mark when you want to move it.
Have you you ever heard of House Party? If you haven’t, you have got to get on it RIGHT NOW and sign up! The premise of House Party is that companies partner with them, and you, as a host, get to try new products, view tv shows, or experience something that that company has to offer. All they ask is that you share it with your friends by holding…a house party. Cool right? Becoming a host is not guaranteed. You’ll have to fill out an application and then if you are selected you’ve got to invite your guests, add some media to your party page, and post on the blog before you are confirmed.
I’ve done a bunch of parties with them; some of my favorites being the Barbie party (with two new dolls, a complete decoration pack, collector box, poster, etc), the Hershey’s Bliss (I got like 12 bags of chocolate!!! We made fondue.), and my friend had an awesome one for Fisher Price where she got a bunch of toys for her son and she invited all his friends to come over and play. What’s great is that, not only do they send a bunch of cool stuff for the host, but they also always send goodie bags for the guests!
I recently signed up for the Ball Taste of Summer House Party and was SO STOKED when I was actually selected to host. Obviously I’ve just begun my canning adventures, so a party for preserving noobs was right up my alley. I also thought it would be super fun to invite my friends over to try something that I’m not sure many of them have tried. I loved making jam so much that I can’t wait to share the experience.
I was beyond excited when my box arrived yesterday. It was HUGE! I couldn’t imagine what they had packed inside. Look at what I was greeted with!
Not only did they send me a 21 qt. water bath, but they also sent a 4-piece utensil set, 1 Canning Discovery Kit, 20 different pectin packs, 2 Ball Blue Books (I always mis-read that…..) Guide to Preserving, a bunch of coupons for jars and more pectin, and of course the reusable grocery bags to be used for the goodie bags for my guests. !!!!
There’s a big flip chart that guides you through the canning process to use at your party too which I thought was cool.
I thought it was cool they sent along a bunch of recipes to share with the guests too! We’ll be making salsa at the party, but I think I’m going to try my hand at a few of the recipes to share at the party as well.
The book is a fabulous resource! I have only just begun reading it, but I’ve already learned a lot in just the first few pages. I will be keeping one and giving one away as a door prize.
What about you? Are you a House Party member? What’s the best party you’ve been chosen to host. (If you were one of the Margaritaville hosts….I am jealous!)