cast iron cookware update

thanks to a friend and neighbor (thank you Sunday!), plus a fortuitous purchase at the thrift shop, have been able to return to cast iron from that non-stick stuff. Even though it was “ceramic”, it was still soft, pots were thin, the stuff chipped and scratched, and mostly the pots were aluminum, thin, and did not distribute heat evenly. Eventually, am sure the ceramic finish would wear off and become useless too.
Why and how did Lodge become THE name in cast iron cookware? At least its the one I hear the most. My recent acquirements, and my best old time stuff, has either no name on the bottom; only the initials SK and a number. OR, they say Griswald. It is all lighter weight than the Lodge, all has the smooth polished interior, and is all heavier in weight than that Chinese crap that’s coming around. Although, to be honest, do have a couple of 4 or 5″ Lodge pans that are pretty smooth finish and perfect for that fried egg or two for breakfast.
anyway, we had pancakes this morning on my “new to me” griddle, and what a delight. Unlike my old Lodge griddle they were easy to pick up and flip. They griddle cleaned beautifully, the pancakes were perfect!
I know cast iron is soft, when its really thin like the Chinese stuff, it is also fragile and could actually break if dropped on a tile or concrete. The iron can chip and if it does, that stop will never be “non stick”, because what ever you are cooking will dip down into that divet and hangs one. Although it will always be better than trying to fry something on stainless or aluminum! and we know what iron is! We know what it does to our system. and best off all, we know the stuff will last, and last, and last. No need to replace it every few years.

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garden update: zucchini

starting off the season with 8 zucchini plants had me awash with the stuff at the beginning of the season. froze several gallons (filled so called gallon freezer bags), canned 7 quarts, gave some away and ate some. Those larger than life ones I found awhile back did not make good chips, as hard as they were before drying, they were rocks afterwards! And it was a good thing that I made use of that harvest as the plants did not come back after the summer “stasis” period. One single fruit is all. There is new growth showing now, but as its the beginning of September, see a very rare possibility for more zucchini from these plants this year. So have begun pulling them. Since I’m working with barrel composters, have to cut a plant up, let it sit for a few days to shrink down about 75%, then I can cut back the next plant. Need the bed to be ready for planting garlic and onions by mid/late October or after when ever we have had our first frost.
What I have learned is to plant my zucchini, harvest and then pull the plants when the heat clamps down on the production. BUT, be sure to have plants ready to plant new once the rains and cooler weather comes in August, so we can have another harvest at the end of the month. Did do that one year and it worked very well. So that will be the new plan for the future with zucchini.

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more socks!

 

This has become my favorite sock yarn, Cascade’s Cherub Aran.  it is heavier than a regular sock yarn, but I like my socks heavier as I’m on my feet a lot.  Obviously, also like my socks in flashy colors Smile!  This yarn is 55% nylon, 45% acrylic so the ease is minimal; just the stretch of the stitch, the yarn itself doesn’t stretch much (and if you’ve ever knit a sock out of regular yarn you know what I mean! BUT you have to start somewhere and that’s a great way, with cheap yarn, to learn about the stitches, ease, fit, gauge, etc).  They are also not going to shrink!  Found this stuff in the children’s section at the yarn store cause its nice and soft!!  have another skein and that will go on the needles today!

IMG_0398 (1024x896)IMG_0397 (845x1024)

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Roma Tomatoes

 

IMG_0396 (1024x672) Getting near the end of the harvest.  Usually I grow heirlooms, but this year, also did a hybrid called HEINZ. Yes, Heinz. supposedly the hybrid grown by the Heinz company.  Look at the size of those tomatoes!

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deal of the day

 

IMG_0395 (1024x647)These two cast iron pieces came to a total of $10.50 at the local Goodwill.  They are not Lodge brand, but they are also not the super thin Chinese stuff.  Both are polished castings.  As I’ve commented before, without that finish step on the casting, no matter how you season the iron it will never be that non-stock surface for doing eggs, pancakes.  My last Lodge brand cast iron griddle had that pebbled finish typical of the modern stuff and the pancakes always stuck.  Am looking forward to trying this out this weekend!

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look what I found

 

IMG_0386 (1024x768)every day I search amongst the zucchini leaves for any missed squash.  Know how easy it is to miss something dark against the dark ground in the shadow of the leaves.  Right next to the zucchini are the tomatoes.  and while wading around in the tomatoes harvesting romas looked at the zucchini, and from this new perspective, what did I find!

that’s an 18” ruler, by the way!

looks like zucchini spaghetti and zucchini chips are in the plans for today.

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learning to use the Rocket Stove

 

IMG_0385 (768x1024)Boiled potatoes in it today.  Great to not have that heat in the kitchen BUT we do not have native hardwoods here.  AZ Cypress is the hardest evergreen we have and while it’s okay for the fireplace insert, using it for cooking you realize how soft the wood is.

Lots of other places have pictures of the stoves being used with the sticks hanging out of the firebox on the supplied rack and talking about pushing them in about every 10 minutes.  With the soft woods here, it was every 4 minutes or so AND it was burning faster than it was making room in the firebox.  So it was not unusual for the flames to start licking up the outside (see picture) and for bits of burning wood/coal to drop off onto the table.

It took more wood than if it had been oak or elm, but still, not really a lot.  and its all pretty small stuff, not what you would use in the heating stove or campfire.  It didn’t cook the potatoes faster than the regular stove, but just as fast, so other than having to keep an eye on it and keep shoving wood in, it was no bother.

Probably as dirty as it is because its all soft wood too.

Anyway, dinner is ready.  Next time I’ll try making some pulled pork.

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