Easy Stove Top Roast (or in the oven)

 

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Here’s my favorite easy fall and winter recipe.  Its good enough to serve for company, but easy enough that the prep literally only takes minutes.  This week, I burnt out my oven by seasoning too many cast iron pans (crazy, I know!) and had to learn to adapt my time honored fav for the stove top.  I was totally surprised that it turned out great.

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

Chuck roast.  I usually get one that is 3-4 pounds

3-4 carrots, washed, unpeeled, and cut in chunks (I cut in one the bias because its more fun)

3-4 celery stalks (washed, cut in chunks including the tips)

(sometimes I add new potatoes, sometimes not)

1 onion (peeled and quartered or sliced fairly thick)

olive oil

salt

pepper

oregano

about a tablespoon of molasses (sometimes)

a splash of Worcestershire sauce

4 cups beef broth

  1. Preheat oven safe pot with a bit of oil on medium high. (Also, preheat oven to 300 if you plan to finish it in the oven)
  2. Generously put salt, pepper, and oregano all over the roast.  Salt helps it to brown better.
  3. Brown all the edges of the roast.  It takes about 1 minute per side. The sizzle is a good thing.
  4. Take the roast out of the pan.
  5. Put the onion in the pan and let it brown.  After a minute or so, turn it to brown other sides.  Set it aside with the roast.
  6. Add a little oil to the pot if necessary and put the carrots and the celery (and potatoes if you want them) in to sear.  Let them brown for a few minutes stirring only as necessary. Set them aside as well.
  7. Turn the heat down to low. Add a couple of cups of beef broth to the empty pot.  Using a whisk, fairly gently scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen up all the lovely burnt on pieces.  This important step adds a lot of goodness to the flavor.
  8. Add a spoonful or so of molasses (if you have it) and a dash of Worcestershire sauce to the broth and stir it around.
  9. Put the roast and veggies back in the pot.  Add the rest of the beef broth.  You want the roast to nearly be covered with liquid.  If needed, you can add water to accomplish that.
  10.  At this point, if you plan to finish it in the oven, put the lid on, slide it in the oven,and let it cook about 3-4 hours.  It is done when it is ready to fall apart.
  11. If you are finishing on the stove top, put the heat on medium low and bring it to a boil.  Once its boiling, turn the heat down to simmer and let it simmer for 2 – 2 1/2 hours.  I put the lid on half way to keep the water in and check it every once in a while and add water as necessary.

Did you try it? Let me know what you think!  Got any other roast tips? I’d love to hear them!

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Aebleskivers!

Saturday mornings were made for messy hair, extra time in your pjs, cartoons, and a fun breakfast.  Today, I will show you our new favorite fun breakfast.

A few months ago, I found this pan at an auction and brought it home, cleaned it up, seasoned it, and had no idea what it was.  A quick google of “aebleskiver” showed it to a Danish pancake ball pan.  You hide yummy fillings inside the pancake–how fun! I had no idea what that this was, but was excited to try.

So, this Saturday morning, when we crawled out of bed at the crack of 8, we decided it was the morning to try.  I found a few recipes on the internet and ended up trying this one: http://www.pamelasproducts.com/danish-aebleskivers/

IMG_1798.JPGMy curly haired baking assistant and I gathered all of these dry ingredients and mixed them together:

  • 2 cups gluten free flour blend ( I like to find one with xanthum gum added in)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt

In another bowl, we mixed

  • 2 egg yolks, saving the whites in another bowl
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 cups buttermilk ( I never, ever have buttermilk in the house. I just add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar per cup of milk and let them sit together for about 10 minutes so the mixture has a chance to thicken up.  Sometimes I can’t handle milk very well and use almond milk.  It works great and I don’t spend tons of money for one recipe while the rest of the buttermilk sits in my fridge and goes bad).IMG_1802

Then we added the wet ingredients to the dry ones.

Next came the fun. We opted to try to get the egg whites to stiff peaks. by hand. This is NOT recommended.  I have since found my brain and use a hand mixer.  Anyway, we whisked and whisked. And whisked.  IMG_1808And then we called in back up who whisked and whisked.

IMG_1812.JPGAt this point, a hungry super hero found his way into the kitchen and he was put to work as well. IMG_1813.JPG

Once we FINALLY got something that resembled a stiff peak, we folded the egg yolks into the rest of the batter.

At this point, I got out my freshly cleaned and seasoned aebleskiver pan and let it start preheating on the stove on a medium low burner.  Preheating is very important with cast iron. While this preheating happened, I gathered up ingredients to put inside the aebleskivers– diced apples with a dash of cinnamon, blueberries, and mini chocolate chips. I also grabbed a skewer to turn the aebleskivers.

After a quick spray of pam, I began spooning the batter into the cups. My lovely assistant added a blueberry to each cup and I covered it with another spoonful of batter. Then we watched with great anticipation.IMG_1818.JPG

The batter on the sides of each cup began to set, so I used the trusty skewer to flip each beautiful ball over.  It worked!IMG_1819.JPG

After another minute or so, I used the skewer to lift them out ready for their first taste test.IMG_1821.JPG

They are amazing.  We filled the plate with aebleskivers filled with all 3 different fillings.  It was a surprise with each bite–lots of fun for the perfect Saturday morning breakfast. So, shoppers of my Etsy shop, I apologize, but this pan won’t make it online.  We’ve adopted it.  I’ll save the next one for you.

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Finding Fakes

finding fakesThere is nothing like finding a valuable antique treasure like this Griswold cast iron pan. There is a thrill in knowing that you have found and sometimes rescued something special and of value. That thrill is quickly turned to disappointment when you find out, as my kids did, that they bought a fake.

This cast iron toy skillet is marked “Griswold,” which is the crème de la crème of vintage cast iron brands. As such, there are fakes. So, as they held this pan, we talked about how to spot a fake. That conversation turned from spotting fake pans to spotting fake people. The trick in collecting antiques and in living life is the same: learning how to spot a fake.

Matthew 7:15 says, “Watch out for false prophets. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.”

real griswold

This is a real Griswold. Note the clean lines, crisp lettering, and good cast.

In our lives, there are people that genuinely care about us. They want the best for us. They want to see us succeed. Those people are like finding the genuine, valuable antiques. They bring joy untold. Finding those people is worth the treasure hunt. Like this pan, their markings are true. This real Griswold makes the one that we bought look like a piece of trash. Its markings are clear, its surface like glass. Genuine people have markings that are real and stands through inspection.

However, there are those that are fakes. They may be fake in Christian doctrine and trying to persuade us to join them by using lies about scripture. Maybe they are fake friends and are merely using us for their gain only to discard us later.

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This is our counterfeit Griswold. Note the bubbly, sloppy looking lettering,

False prophets, teachers, and friends are all dangerous, because they pretend and seem to be genuine. Our fake pan has the markings of a Griswold. It even has a model number that is valid. However, upon closer inspection, we find that there are things that are off. First, the quality of the iron is just not good. The logo and the writing look “bubbly”. It isn’t crisp like real Griswold skillets. The surface is not smooth and milled, instead its uneven,unrefined.

Our friends, teachers, and leaders all have markings, “brands” if you will. Sometimes they are labeled as “caring”, but when we look closer it is scrawled and of poor quality because it is fake. Do they pretend to care, only to desert when needed or when they don’t get the public credit? We need to be brand inspectors. Do their brands and markings look like the real thing or is it a bit off? Even Satan in the Garden of Evil mixed his lies with a bit of truth. With friends, ask yourself if they are trying to gain by being your friend. Find out their motives. Does the quality of their markings match who they are? Do they say they are their friend, but lead you toward evil? Are you often getting in to trouble because of the reassurance of a “friend”? For teachers and prophets, also do a motive check. Does their words match their works? Are they teaching generosity but greedy in their ministry? Are they using just enough scripture to get you to do what they want? Pray that God will give you discernment.

My prayer for my kids and for you, is that God will teach you to spot a fake. For me, our pan looked pretty good, until I was able to compare it to the real thing. After I saw what the real thing looked like, I recognized our fake as trash. God has given us the real deal to look at in the person of Jesus. The more we know Him and spend time with Him, the better we will be at spotting fakes. Compare your friends, your teachers, your leaders to Christ. Do their markings match up? If not, they are fakes. Treat them as such. Guard your heart.

 

 

 

 

How to Scramble Eggs in a Cast Iron Skillet (and not end up with a stuck on mess.)

This is post is for the girl like me. Newly married, I set out to be the perfect Suzy Homemaker, but just ended up with an egg covered heirloom and lots of frustration. My husband had 2 skillets passed down from his grandfather.  I wanted to use them well, but had no clue.  I read on the internet about seasoning, so I put on a fresh layer of seasoning.  After I seasoned the pan, I held it proudly and prepared to cook my hubby some eggs.  After all, it was non stick, right? I had just seasoned it.  Cook eggs I did, and I think half of them immediately glued to the bottom of the pan. After spending 30 frustrating minutes scrubbing the pan (with soap mind you,—a definite no no). I promptly stuffed it to the very back of my cabinet and retrieved my not so trusty teflon pan for daily use.

Years later, I am happy to say that I eventually tried again and now solely use cast iron pans.  In fact, I am constantly cleaning and restoring them so that others can feel the gratification and freedom from fragile teflons.  I wish I had known then that there is a bit of an art to cooking with cast iron. Its not hard at all once you learn some basic principles– all of which can be demonstrated in cooking eggs.  I hope to share some of what I’ve learned with you today.

  1. Its all about the preheat.  Putting cold oil and cold eggs into a cold pan will always result in a stuck on mess. I preheat on LOW for 3-4 minutes.  You may be tempted to crank it up to high to go faster.  I have done this. Just. don’t.  Not a good idea. Overheated pans means very over heated eggs.
  2. While its preheating, I crack and scramble my eggs.  Once I think its ready, I simply put my hand fairly close to the surface to feel how warm it is (I know it goes without saying, but don’t touch it. Cast iron=hot).  I have also heard that if the handle is hot, then the pan is ready, but I prefer to just feel the radiant heat.
  3. Put in a bit of oil (for my kids I use coconut oil) and let it heat up too. It only takes a bit.IMG_1055
  4. Add the eggs and LEAVE THEM ALONE.  Don’t sit there and fiddle with them.  Don’t keep scrambling them.  Just let the pan do its job. Cast iron is excellent at searing.  Basically, we are very lightly searing (not even to the point of brown) the bottom of the eggs. This will make the rest of the eggs not stick.IMG_1057
  5. Once the eggs are BARELY set on the bottom and you can see them start to set on the edges, turn off the heat and stir to your hearts content.  Remember how cast iron is excellent at holding heat?  It will have plenty heat there to finish your eggs.

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    See how the edges are rounded?  Not brown, just barely set.  Ready. Set. Stir those eggs!

  6.  They should be done pretty quickly at this point and ready for the plate.IMG_1060
  7. Now, proudly pat yourself on the back as you look at your nice, nearly egg free pan. Yay! Now, if I could just figure out how to get that glass top truly clean…IMG_1045

Now, if your skillet is not egg free. Don’t fret!  Check out my blog post about how to clean it up fairly quickly and somewhat painlessly.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Feel free to ask me questions.  I will do my best to help.

*The pan featured in this blog post is a Red Mountain Series Birmingham Stove and Range number 5.  It was made in between the 1930s-1950s. It is my favorite egg pan for making eggs for my husband and myself in the morning.  It also, in my opinion, is the ideal omelet skillet. You can find more of my vintage pans (probably evene a few just like this one) that are looking for good homes at yesteryearfortoday.etsy.com.

 

The Night I Didn’t Have a Dinner Plan, Had No Food in the House, and Didn’t Go Out to Eat. Also. How to make a Frittata.

Ok. So, I will admit, this happens to me fairly often.  The other night, it got to be 6:30, maybe even 7:00 and I was jolted out of whatever project I was working on by my 5 year old son, saying, “Mom, my stomach says that it is past supper time.” It was way past time. Not only did I have no plan, but I had not been to the grocery store for a long time and was down to just a few foods hanging out in the fridge.  Basically, we were down to eggs, a few pieces of bacon, milk, and cheese and a zucchini and tomato from the garden.

Having recently decided our stomachs and our budget could do with a hiatus from eating out, I started searching the pantry for anything else.  Then I remembered our dear friend frittatas.  If you have never tried these, you need to.  I will become your ace in the hole, quick weeknight, one skillet, easy clean up meal.  My veggie-averse kids eat it like crazy and don’t even pick the veggies out.  Its also a great fridge clean out food.  You can  use whatever veggies you have on hand that needs to be used.

Here’s how I make it.

Again, here are my starting ingredients:

9 eggs (10 would have been better, but beggars can’t be choosers)

1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons or so of milk

4 1/2 pieces of bacon (1/2 was stolen by the hungry 5 year old)

1 zucchini

1 tomato

a little cooking oil

  1.  First, I preheated the oven to 400 and preheated my skillet .  I put the skillet on the burner on low and let it heat up.  This helps the food not to stick later. I also cheated because it was late.  I cooked the bacon on paper towels in the microwave.
  2. Next I shredded the zucchini.  I thought it would hide among the eggs better and my veggie-averse kids would have no choice (and be none the wiser) as they ate it.
  3. Increasing the heat to medium, I put a little cooking oil (maybe a tablespoon) onto my preheated pan, let it heat up a bit, then added the shredded zucchini.IMG_1028
  4. While the zucchini did its thing..(small side not about cast iron cooking–these pans are meant for searing.  So, the best thing to do is let it do its job.  Stirring constantly, will only make a mess. So stir, leave it alone for a bit, then come back and stir again.) I cracked the eggs into  a medium sized bowl, added the cheese and milk, and whisked away. I also used this time to crumble my now cooked bacon and slice the tomato into small wedges. IMG_1032
  5. Once the zucchini is cooked, I put it in the bowl with the eggs and whisk again.IMG_1033
  6. If needed, I put a little bit more oil in the skillet. Then just pour the egg mixture in.IMG_1035
  7. I happily sprinkled bacon over the eggs–much to the delight of the hungry kids. Then placed the tomato pieces over all that.IMG_1036
  8. I let the eggs cook until the edges are set and starting to brown.  I use my spatula to lift it up and let some of the egg mixture flow underneath.
  9. Once the edges were set and starting to brown, I stuck it in the oven (ain’t cast iron great!) and let it cook or about 10 minutes until it was puffed up and slightly browned.IMG_1039
  10. Once it was out, I cut into wedges and watched as my happy trio and hubby devoured it.IMG_1040

Cast iron note:  For this meal, I used a BSR Century Series Number 7 skillet.  I love BSR as users because they are super smooth on the inside and hold seasoning well, but are almost indestructible.  A size 8 would have worked wonderfully as well.  If you don’t have a vintage cast iron skillet, you need one! You can find one here.

The Tale of a Rusty Dutch Oven. Also Gluten Free Apple Dump Cake Recipe.

A while back, my hubs came upon an amazing dutch oven from the 1800s.  It was rusting away in a little antique shop and was begging to be rescued.  So, being super sweet, he brought it home to me.

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This number 12 Camp Stove from the 1800s needed lots of love.

I promptly put it in lye bath. Then, after a time, I let it soak for an hour or so in a vinegar bath, scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed the rust off, and then finally got to start building life back into it with flax seed seasoning. After much work, the dutch oven that once was a rusting hunk of forgotten iron, emerged a newly revitalized piece ready for another 100 years of use.

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Here’s the 100+ year old dutch oven ready to get cookin’!

All that was left was to learn how to use it.  After a lot of reading, I finally settled on this recipe: http://jillcataldo.com/dutch_oven_apple_dump_cake/ for its maiden voyage.  It was easy to pull together and I could just focus on the dutch oven. Being gluten free, we had to make a few adjustments, but I was so excited with how it turned out.

First, the basics of dutch oven cooking are as thus.  Most people use charcoal to cook with these. Some coals go on top and some go underneath. That is why there is a flat top and feet.  You put fewer coals on the bottom because heat rises.

There are bunches of diagrams of how to figure out how many coals to put on and under your camp oven, but here’s what I did.  For approximately 350 degrees, I took the diameter of my camp oven  (12) and take 3 away (12-3=9). This is how many coals to put under the stove.  Add 3 to the diameter to figure out how many go on top (12+3=15).  Armed with this knowledge, I got charcoal and got going.

I dug a chimney charcoal starter from the recesses of the garage to light my coal. To get this going, pour the coal in the top, put paper underneath the chimney and light it.  Eventually the paper will light the charcoal and white billowy smoke will resound.  Also, take note of the scrap piece of metal also scavenged from the garage.  This protects the ground and reflects the heat upward.  I put the camp stove on this as well.IMG_0956

Eventually the white smoke turns clear. That means that the charcoal is ready to use.  While I was waiting, I whipped up my Gluten Free Apple Dump Cake.

I had to be careful and search for apples in a can that did not have gluten.  Be particular.

Ingredients:

1 box of Gluten Free Yellow Cake Mix

2 cans of apples (be careful to find gluten free–read well!)

2 cans of lemon lime soda.

Aluminum foil

Directions:

  1. In a fairly large bowl, dump in the cake mix and carefully mix the soda.  It will bubble like crazy. I found it somewhat challenging to make sure it mixed well.IMG_0959.JPG
  2. Line the dutch oven with aluminum foil to make sure that clean up is as effortless as possible.  Spread both of the cans of apples in the bottom of the dutch oven.IMG_0960.JPG
  3. Dump the cake mixture on top of the apples. Cover, and wait for that clear smoke.IMG_0961

Once the smoke is clear, its time to get cooking.  I grabbed the welding gloves that I use to handle hot cast iron and the extra long tongs that we use on the grill.  Using the very long tongs, I picked up individual coals and put 9 underneath the stove and 15 on the top, taking care to space them evenly.IMG_0969.JPG

Then came time to wait.  I waited about 30 minutes and checked.  This is a lid grabber.  It was super nice to be able to lift the lid and keep it level. IMG_0973.JPGAfter about 40 minutes, it was done!  This was definitely super good and an easy, fun intro to my new, very old dutch oven.  I can’t wait to try something else!

Wanna try something like this for yourself? Hop on over to my shop for tons of cast iron goodies or fun vintage items: https://www.etsy.com/shop/yesteryearfortodayIMG_0974.JPG

 

How to Clean Cast Iron

I was in an old junk store the other day looking at their selection of cast iron.  As I closely examined each piece, the 5 or 6 old timers who were just hanging around and talking of days past began to take notice.  Immediately I began to get advise as to how to clean cast iron.  “Throw it in the fire.” “Use a grinding wheel.” “Use the self clean cycle of the oven.” (for the record, let me just say, “No!”. Antique cast iron can be sensitive to high heat.)

Then came the ideas for seasoning. “Use lard.” “Use crisco.” “Use olive oil.” They each knew the “best” way to take care of cast iron.  While I am not here to give the definitive “way” to clean and take care of your cast iron, I thought I would take a few minutes to share how I take care of mine.

First, we need a messy pan to clean.  This one was a 2 day old mess left from a very delicious blueberry pie my daughter made.  Its a Birmingham Stove and Range No. 7 from the 1940s or 1950s. Want one like it? There’s probably one like it up for adoption in my Etsy Shop.

Super stuck on and baked on pie remains.

Super stuck on and baked on pie remains.

An upclose and personal view of our cast iron tragedy

An upclose and personal view of our cast iron tragedy

First let me say, when it comes to cast iron, always say “No” to soap.  Soap’s job is to attach to grease and carry it away.  Seasoning, in it most basic form, is grease.  So, soap kills your layer of seasoning and seasoning is what makes your skillet so naturally nonstick.  Before you click away in disgust, consider this.  According to Lodge’s website, a pan heated at medium high heat for 4 minutes gets up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Something only needs to be 212 degrees Fahrenheit to be sterile.  So, because of the high heat of cast iron, soap is not necessary.

So, now we need to figure out how to get rid of all that junk without compromising our hard-earned seasoning layers. Here’s what I do:

  1.  Just add water.

I add water to the pan (usually about halfway full), put it back on the eye of my stove, and bring it to boiling.  I usually start this process while I am tidying up the rest of the kitchen.

Fill the skillet about halfway full of water.

Fill the skillet about halfway full of water.

Let the water get to heavy, rolling boil.

Let the water get to heavy, rolling boil.

2.  Pour and wipe.

This is where things get a bit interesting.  Turn off the the stove. Using a pot holder (cast iron handles get very hot–remember, sanitized), grab the pan, pour the water and most of the mess into the sink.  Very, very, very carefully, using utmost care, use a paper towel and wipe out the rest of the mess. (It is best to do this while the pan is still hot, just BE CAREFUL, I have suffered many burns from a lack of care here)

Wipe up the rest of the junk.

Wipe up the rest of the junk.

3. Bring on the oil.

Start adding back in the oil.  Notice how dry my pan looks here. Since it is so hot, it drys out almost immediately. Put a small amount of your favorite kitchen oil on the surface of your pan.  (For this purpose the type of oil is not that important. Later, when we talk about reseasoning, we can talk about types of oils and which works best)

Put a small amount of edible oil in the bottom of the pan.

Put a small amount of edible oil in the bottom of the pan.

4. Spread the love.

Use a soft cloth or paper towel, spread the oil all over the pan–top and bottom. (Again, use care.  The pan is hot!).  The pan should just barely look wet, slightly shiny, and definitely not be dripping.  The dry pan will continue to absorb the oil until it is dry to the touch.

Wipe the pan with a paper towel, or cloth until it is just shiny

Wipe the pan with a paper towel, or cloth until it is just shiny

5.  All done!  Store your cast iron skillet with a paper towel in it to keep moisture away from it.

All done! Nice and clean!

All done! Nice and clean!

 

Wait!  Still have trouble?  Have the ultimate stuck on mess?  Think you have ruined your skillet? I will post about that next time.