Saturday, June 30, 2012

Going On Vacation and Happy Fourth of July

We are heading out to visit my brother in California for a couple of weeks.  I may not be posting during this time, but if anything super interesting happens I'll be sure to let you know.

Foothills In Atascadero, California

Be safe and happy this Fourth of July.  Better to go view a public fireworks display rather than setting them off at home.  People also get hurt every year by falling bullets.  DO NOT fire weapons into the air to celebrate.  What goes up must come down.

God bless,

Out Of Grandma's Kitchen: Cast Iron

Cast iron was a standard material for cookware during the 19th century and early 20th century.  It was practically indestructible and held up when cooking with wood, whether a wood stove or open fire.  The only drawbacks are that it can be brittle, rusts, and must be kept seasoned.

Ignore Dirty Stove Top

My pans were handed down in my family and acquired at thrift stores.  Some of the pieces actually came from my great-grandma's farm.  I do have one extremely large pan that I bought for fried chicken.  It only gets used a few times a year, but I consider it a wise purchase.

Cast iron is the original non- stick cookware.  A well seasoned pan is almost as good as teflon and quite a bit healthier.  Caste iron actually adds iron to your diet, instead of dangerous chemicals and off gases.

Keep your pans in good shape by hand washing them with minimal soap, and keep a layer of oil on them.  Dry the pans in a hot oven or stove top rather than air drying.  You can search this blog for instructions on refurbishing dirty or old caste iron.

There is nothing better than corn bread cooked in a cast iron pan.  It develops a caramelized crust that tastes fantastic and has a wonderful crunch.  Our old folks knew about food and how it is supposed to taste.  Their cooking methods are worth emulating to get the same delicious results.

God bless,

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Out Of Grandma's Kitchen: Egg Pot

I love my little white, graniteware pot for boiling eggs.  Graniteware heats up quickly and is perfect for boiling water.  Graniteware was a common sight in my grandmas' kitchens because it was common, and inexpensive.

One problem with graniteware is that it chips easily.  You can see one chip in the photo and there is another on the other side.  Doesn't affect the usefulness of the pot though.

You can still buy white graniteware today.  I have two pots that I bought from Lehman's Hardware several years ago.  I chose white because I use them for plant dyeing wool.  The white allows me to see the intensity of the dye bath.  If I were buying graniteware for cooking I would probably buy the navy blue.

I look for graniteware at thrift shops and yard sales.  It is a hard working material, has a classic and modern look about it and it reminds me of good times in grandma's kitchen.

God bless,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Out Of Grandma's Kitchen: Butcher Knife

My grandparents on my mom's side of the family had very little in the way of material things.  They had 9 children, an elderly mother and, for a while, a grandson to care for.  My grandma raised all of their vegetables and fruit, canning all summer long with the help of her daughters.  Any meat that they ate either came from my great-grandma's farm or from hunting and fishing.

Grandpa had many mouths to provide for and he did it by working three jobs.  He worked full time, days on the railroad.  In the evening he bagged groceries at a local store, then he would come home to get a few hours of sleep.  At three in the morning he would wake up and work for the highway department putting up barriers on roads.  Then it all started over again.

When my mom and dad got married they were not given many gifts like people get today.  Instead they were given household items, many of them already used.  My grandparents couldn't afford much, but Grandpa did give my mom something that she kept close all of her life and that I value today.

The day before her wedding Grandpa handed Mom a well used butcher knife and said "every home needs a good butcher knife".  That was it and nothing more was said.  They weren't people that talked much about emotions and feelings.

I don't know much about this knife, but it was used by several generations of my family.  It's worn out, but still functional and will stay in my kitchen, close to the heart of my family for the rest of my life.

God bless,

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hemorrhaging Money Or Everything Happens In Threes

Last week was one of those weeks when everything breaks down at once.  First, DH goes out to mow the lawn and our lawnmower (which worked perfectly the week before) refuses to run.  Our lawnmower repair man, who is a very busy guy (might be a good career choice), declared it terminal.  So, the search for a new lawnmower began.

My husband, a diligent researcher, spoke with lawnmower repair guy and did some online research, which included Consumer Reports.  The interesting fact about lawnmowers is that there can be great differences between mowers of the same brand.  A Toro mower can have a not so good engine or a really good engine, plus the materials used in the body can vary.  We ended up with a Toro with an Briggs & Stratton engine and an aluminum body.  We did not get the electric start because it added a great deal to the price and we are still able to yank on a starter cord.

With the new lawnmower in the garage we decided to eat some ice cream.  Hmmm, the ice cream was very soft and so were the popsicles.  After we both accused the other of leaving the freezer door open (duh) we realized that the freezer was not working properly.  This wasn't a big surprise as our refrigerator was old, as in it was hard to find a repairman to work on it old, but we had kept it running as long as we could.  Our plan has been to remodel the kitchen and buy new appliances to fit into the new floor plan.

As the refrigerator began it's decline the rush to research and buy a new one commenced.  Once again we went to Consumer Reports to look for reliable brands.  I had my heart set on a bottom freezer, which is more energy efficient, but also, more expensive.  Speed was of the essence, so we needed to find a model that a store had in stock for immediate delivery.  DH and I split up and began to hit the stores.  Texting back and forth we finally found a make and model that worked for our space.

We ended up buying a Whirlpool side by side, with an ice maker and a water dispenser.  This was pure luxury for us as we had done without an ice maker for many years.  The installation was simple, but we had to mourn the loss of DH's banana sticker collection.  Fifteen years in the making, but it had to go with the old refrigerator.  I did take a picture of it though:

Since trouble seems to come in threes, we are waiting to see what the next money eating break down is going to be.  I am eyeing my husband's car suspiciously.  It doesn't sound so good and has had a slow oil leak for awhile now.  Sigh, we'll see.

God bless,