• Personally speaking….

    Just the thoughts and cookings of a software engineer that likes to make foodstuffs from time to time in the bay area of California.
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Cookbook Challenge: Cast iron story time

I got distracted by this that and the other thing but I was still doing various whatnots. I know. I’m so specific. School starts this week too. Hey, want to hear a story of a girl’s first use of cast iron?

Gather ’round now.

Once upon a time, a mother used cast iron to cook. Her daughter watched and learned how to clean it after use. This was the same mother who made fried chicken, hamburger helper, tacos, and bacon.

The girl grew up — chronologically, at least.

One day, she stopped her mother from donating the cast iron and kept them. “Ok, now what?” she asked herself. You see, she’d become vegetarian again so wasn’t sure if she wanted to use the pans as is.

IMG_2022

She researched and researched but got lazy. She bought a combo pot from Lodge. Well, she figured if she’s going to ‘ruin’ something, she’s going to do it with cheap Lodge pan and not pans that are older than she is.

The new cast iron

In the research, she read that the first few times should be frying things like chicken, hamburger or bacon. Well, that was out but she could do pancakes with a heavy hand on the oil. After finding a recipe in a cookbook — yay for the challenge (see end of post for status) — she set to work.

Cast iron "fun"

The first batch was not a success. Even though the recipe said medium-high, she found that way too hot. The next batch was on medium and still too hot.

Final heat

She then found the right heat (above), just in time.

Pancakes

The pancakes were good. She ended up getting two at the end for her breakfast. But what about eggs? Will they be a mess to clean up? (Lovely progressive shot of burned to not so burned.)

Pancakes and eggs

Nope. They were wonderful and fluffy. So odd how fluffy they were.

She cleaned the pan like her mother did with hot water, brush and then oil when it was dry. She stored the top on the bottom with a folded kitchen towel between, to allow air to circulate.

The End…. (or is it?)


2009 Cookbook Challenge: Cook a new recipe at least once a month from one of my currently owned cookbooks. Each new recipe I cook and post from a cookbook in my collection “earns” me $5.

Recipe 3: Pancakes from Vegan with a Vengeance (Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

2009 Cookbook Challenge Total: $15

The recipe was from Vegan with a Vengeance. My change: I folded in 1 cup of drained, canned corn. I let it rest in the fridge for 10 minutes as she suggested and I think that really did help!

Other Cookbook Challenge entries ยป

Local grocery sales with a little web help

Organic Produce Since I now have this goal of cooking at least one recipe from one of the cookbooks in my stash, I’m going to need to plan. This semester is going to kick my rear both in body and pocket. One of the wonderful things about keeping an eye on what’s in season is usually that’s what is on sale.

I usually look through the local sale circulars online but recently ran across mygrocerydeals.com which pulls circulars together for me — for free. I’ve tried some other sites that do this but they charge. When I first checked the site out, it only pulled the circular from one of my neighborhood stores. Now, it has a pretty good selection, including some circulars I can’t find online. Not sure how they do that!

According to their site, these seem to be the best buys, produce-wise:

  • Apple, Red or Golden Delicious, Virginia Grown or Organic, Kroger. $1.00/pound (Normally $[censored]/pound)
  • Asparagus, Farm Fresh. $1.99/pound (Normally $3.99/pound)
  • Green Beans, Farm Fresh. $1.99/pound
  • Cabbage, Kroger. $.39/pound
  • Greens (Kale, Collards, Mustard), Farm Fresh. $.88/pound (Normally $1.99/pound)

I wonder if I should hit Trader Joe’s then swing by Kroger and Farm Fresh on the way home. Trader Joe’s is about 10 minutes away. Kroger and Farm Fresh are in the same shopping center.

Now that I know where the cheap is, it’s time to pick the dishes!

Laptop Lunch #6

Wow. Number 6 already? I found a tin of miniature letter cutters and got a little silly with my Laughing Cow babybel.

Laptop Lunch #6

Clockwise, starting at the top left: Fat-free cottage cheese with bits of oranges and cantaloupe in it. A pile of plum and orange slices. Next is a Laughing Cow Light Babybel on top of spinach on top of orange slices. Last, but not least, is a bunch of cantaloupe balls with plum slices.The theme of this is cozy neighbors. A little of one container is in another container. Did I mention I was in a silly mood?

I started to get the hang of making balls out of my cantaloupe near the end. A few have rind on them. Oops!

WW Core except for the Laughing Cow (1 point). I just had to try these little letter cutters that I found in a drawer. I wanted to do “C” for cheese but it didn’t have “C”! No idea why. So, this is “N” for “NUM!” Also, a little gotcha… I forgot that there is a paper(?) string thing and the cut-out didn’t pop out as easily as I thought it would so had to cut along the edges of the “N.” When I got to work, I peeled off the strips and it put a slash through it making it look like “No N.” Or maybe it’s a “Z”!

Closeup of the N

Yes. I’m easily amused.

I also discovered that I don’t like orange plus cottage cheese. And the plum was very tangy but was told they’re supposed to be sweet so I’ll try that again. I still really like the combination of spinach and orange.

Flatout amazing! My first time making a flatout wrap

Turkey, tomato, spinach, cheese wrap

Two thumbs up!

I wanted to buy a low-cal, low-fat wrap for sandwiches (yes, thinking about my laptop lunch makings) and found among the wraps a weird looking oblong wrap. Brand name is Flatout and after looking at the nutritional values of those available, I got the Honey Whole Wheat one. It’s a lot of good bread for just 1 point. Odd though, I can’t find it on the Flatout website. This is the closest to the nutritional value that I found: Multi-grain Flatout.

The texture is great. It’s not scratchy or heavy wheat. It didn’t fall apart like the one tortilla ‘sandwich’ that I made did.

I looked on the website to try and figure out how I was supposed to use it. I found a few recipes but no play-by-play. So, I went with the generic “put the stuff on round end of the bread and then roll tightly.” I smooshed the cheese on the bottom using a wet tablespoon. It made the spreading of the cheese much easier. I then put on spinach, some thinly sliced turkey breast, and some slices of tomatoes. I rolled up from the filled end as tightly as I could but couldn’t do too tightly because of the tomatoes.

It held together very well considering I take my sandwiches so dry — no mayo, etc. I sliced it in half and it still held up well.

Fantastic product! I can’t wait to try some other ideas with it. Interestingly enough, after I bought it, I saw a fellow blogger post her fajita photo made with Flatout bread. So weird to go from never knowing about a product to buying it and seeing it in use shortly after!

Grilled salmon, smashed taters, and popeye weed

I got a big frozen salmon from the store. It had the skin on even. I have not grilled salmon before so gave it a whirl.

Salmon

And served it with some mashed potatoes and spinach. I didn’t want the spinach juice contaminating the salmon, so made a protective barrier.

Dinner

This was the first grilling of the season so I had to clean up the grill. I think this is maybe the fifth time I’ve used the grill in two years. After the fish was thawed, I put it on a pre-heated medium grill. Stuff I read said to grease the grill but I had no idea how to do that with a hot grill so used a soaked paper towel. I put it skin side down and cooked it with the grill top open for about 10 minutes. I sprayed the meat side with some spray, sprinkled salt and pepper, and flipped it. The skin made it very easy to flip and keep together. Cooked it for another 10 minutes.

It was cooked well. I like mine closer to medium. Not bad though. Next time, I’ll cook it for less time or maybe move it to the top shelf with the lid closed.

Laptop Lunch #5

Laptop Lunch #5

I was really looking forward to this one! The shrimp were thawed the night before and nestled in there. I didn’t add anything and ate them cold. I don’t like cocktail sauce. The grapes and cherries were singing their swan songs. Spinach, carrots and light Greek dressing are the bomb diggity.

And I got a new placemat! My precious.

I like this laptop lunch thing. Putting together lunches is so easy! I don’t have to make a lot of one thing, just fill up some little containers.

I’m extremely tempted to buy another one. It’s kind of a pain to wash it and then fill it the same night.

Review: Berry Bowl

Is it silly to buy a bowl just for berries? Perhaps. But I impulsed when I was shopping at Food Lion. It was $5.99 and came in two colors.

Berry bowl

It has three parts: lid, bowl, and colander. No, that blue lid isn’t the lid. I just didn’t move it out of the shot. The concept is that you wash the berries with the colander, then drop the berry-filled colander in the bowl. It keeps the berries dry cause the water goes to the bottom of the bowl. Pop the lid on and voi la! At first I tried without the lid because I’m used to that but then put the lid on to keep moisture. And with the lid on, I can put stuff on top like the yogurt container.

I looked around online and found some “berry bowls” for more than what I paid. Not sure if I’d pay more than $5.99. But I’ve been eating more berries so maybe that is worth it.

Before, I would wash off the fruit, put a towel at the bottom of a bowl and then pile on the fruit. Not sure if the berry bowl is better than that though. I like that grapes don’t go bouncing all over the place since they’re contained in the colander. And I like that I’m not dirtying up extra dishes.