Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cast iron Cookware the Natural Way

Looking for a more natural alternative to Aluminum or  Non Stick cookware?
Try Cast Iron!

   Cast iron cookware is a great way to start cooking healthy. Cast iron is nothing new, in fact it has been around for years. What do you think all those cowboys in the westerns cooked their beans in? One or two pans, whether new ones or old ones is really all you need. The image above is of a very old #8 cast iron chicken fryer. It has 4 inch sides and so it is very versatile.

   One of the drawbacks of iron is that it is heavy, but on the other side of the coin because it is iron, the heat is distributed throughout the pan very evenly. One of the other objections to cast iron is that it doesn't have a non stick surface.  A properly seasoned cast iron pan is indeed non stick, and has the added benefit of being easy to clean!

   So how do you season a cast iron pan?
  • Heat oven to 450 degrees.
  • With a paper towel apply a thin layer of oil to the pan. Use an oil that has a smoke point above 450 degrees (corn oil 457, canola oil 467, safflower 509, extra light olive oil 468). This will insure that when you bake your pan the house won't fill with smoke and you set off your smoke alarms. 
  • The thin layer of oil is so thin that you will barely see it. 
  • Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, then shut off the oven  and let the cast iron cool down naturally.
  • You would be wise to repeat this procedure 3 or 4 times when you first season the pan. You will see a sheen on the pan ( as in the above image ) when the pan is properly seasoned.
  • Any time in the future you can season the pan again if it becomes necessary.

   Once conditioned the pan is ready to use. A quick word on new pans. Some will say they have been preseasoned. I would wash them in soapy water to get the protective coating off them (which is placed over the seasoning) and then season them as described above anyway.

   Next up is using the pan. How do you know if the pan or griddle is  the proper temperature to use. Drop a few drops of water on the pan surface.
  • If the water just stays there and sizzles away, the pan is not hot enough.
  • If the water vaporizes almost instantly, the pan is to hot.
  • If the water beads up and dances around on the surface,  the pan is the perfect temperature.
   You will find that cast iron is very enjoyable to cook with and the food will taste great. Now on to the clean up.

  • Rinse the pan out with light soapy water.
  • Never place cold water in a hot pan, this could potentially warp or crack it.
  • Do Not use a strong abbrasive or heavy soap on the surface. If something is stuck, add a little water and let it set awhile, then try again.
  • Wipe out the pan and put it away.
   It is truly that easy!

   When starting out with cast iron  a 10 inch fry pan or better yet an #8 chicken fryer will get you by quite nicely. Logde and also Cooks cast iron cookware are both preseasoned naturally. If it does't say cast iron, it isn't. If it says non stick surface  it is not cast iron, or it has an artificially impregnated non stick surface. Remember cast iron is heavy.

   Any person that has grandparents that grew up on a farm in the old days could simply ask them about cast iron cookware.

   For more information on cast iron cooking, this website should be of help:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Maintaining what your body needs when sick, the Natural Way

   Flu season seems to be in full swing, so I thought I would share with you some "get you through"  food for when you are sick. One of the most important things we should be doing when we are sick, is to keep our blood sugar levels and salt levels up. This helps fight the bug. But how, when we feel so rotten?

   Here is an old way that has worked for our family for years. In fact it has been handed down through several generations. Eat several saltine crackers (about 3 or 4) every hour or so. This will keep some food  in your stomach which is easy to digest, and give you the salt that your body needs. If you can find crackers with sea salt, all the better. Then to maintain blood sugar levels take about 4 - 6 ounces of  FLAT ( no carbonation )  Seven Up or Sprite per hour. This can be alternated with the same amount of water per hour. Now, it is important that you use flat clear soda. In other words no Coke, Pepsi, etc. Also the soda should have sugar in it, no diet sodas.

   Normally I am not an advocate of sodas, but in this case clear flat sodas are very helpful. If you have sugar issues such as diabetes, do not use pop, just keep the water flowing. 

   As crazy as it sounds this does work and it will help get you through stomach bugs like Flu.  So keep some saltines and a 2 liter bottle of Seven Up in the house, along with your cans of chicken noodle soup.

   Lot's of rest and water is also very helpful!