9 March 12 • MAV

Let me start by telling you this fact:
last night I had a little too much red wine.

Now that that’s admitted I can tell you this little story … I am curious if this sort of thing has ever happened to you.

For various reasons we have been in serious “fridge clear-out” mode in our home all week. Thusly, without eggs, milk, yogurt (gasp!), cereal or any of the other standard breakfast items stocked in our house, we have been eating oatmeal for the last several mornings. When I woke up this morning, with the before-mentioned slow-to-process-wine-head, I just couldn’t bear another bowl of oatmeal!

But what else is in the house???

I stood, groggy, with a slight headache, looking around the kitchen. Ugh! The cupboards were fairly bare except for grains, crackers, nuts and that damn oatmeal. Forget it! Until in the corner of the counter I see a 4-day-old half-loaf of bread which I had been too lazy to dispose of yesterday. YES! Toast! My savior!

I use a knife to saw through the stale bread, put a little water on it (this will soften it when warmed) and pop it in the oven to toast right up. But what fixings??? We don’t even have butter!

Hey, wait a minute … there were leftovers from yesterday’s work/studio lunch. Thank goodness we had a big meeting that we had to cater. Yes, yes, there they are in the fridge! And to think I nearly threw them out! Very small bits of turkey, cheese, greens, one tiny tomato, half of an avocado. Oh and how about the old small spoonful of peanut butter which is in the very back behind the maple syrup? And thank goodness for honey!

Yes! Now we’re talking! I ate like a King.

Thank you, strong coffee and happy toasts. Leftovers save the day! And my aching head!

9 March 12 • SCB

When we remodeled our kitchen, I didn’t ask for a pot rack. I was happy with our large drawer storage. But this past Christmas Jack gifted me an 18-inch cast iron skillet, and it quickly became the workhorse of my kitchen. Just the other day, I made a giant dutch baby in it for breakfast, followed by roasted potatoes and corn for lunch burritos, a big batch of granola for the week in the afternoon and a roast chicken and vegetables (MAV and I share our roast chicken recipe in 3191Q Issue No. 5) for dinner. I’m not sure how I lived without it until now, but that thing is a beast to lift in and out of a cabinet or drawer. A place was found for a hanging pot rack, and Jack built one from plumbing materials. I love having all my cast iron at easy reach.

Most of my cast iron came from thrift stores or estate or yard sales. I look for quality pieces, made in the United States. Usually, I prefer pans with a nice seasoning already intact, but last week I came across a rusted little aebleskiver pan for just a few dollars, and I couldn’t pass it up.

Information on seasoning and re-seasoning cast iron pans abounds all over the internet. Techniques and proper oils are hotly debated. As with most things, I like to keep it simple and accessible. I am not an expert, just simply an enthusiast.

To refurbish my pan, I gave it a good scrub with Kosher salt to remove all the debris. Then the rust came off with steel wool. I rubbed the pan with flax oil (animal fat or most vegetable oils work fine), removed all the excess with a paper towel and placed it upside down in a 450 degree oven. I left it there for two hours. The rest of the week, every time I was heating the oven I would repeat the oiling process and the throw the pan in with whatever I was baking. Soon, the pan had a dark black, glossy surface. Last Sunday, I gave my pan its trial run with great results (I am still in search of the perfect aebleskiver recipe, but the pan performed beautifully).

Now that I’ve had my cast iron re-seasoning success, I am ready to bring some more pots in need of TLC. Think I still have room?