Intro To Cast Iron

Let me preface this post with some clarification. I didn’t grow up using cast iron, I didn’t get mine as hand me downs, and I am entirely self taught. I read a thousand articles on cast iron, I joined all of the groups on social media, and I felt utterly discouraged. Cast iron users are very passionate about cast iron, which I adore, but many also tend to speak about cast iron use as though it’s the hardest thing to master. Cleaning cast iron seemed to be a ritual, cooking seemed to be a right of passage. So, eventually, I stepped away from the articles and groups, and just started using them. Everyone has their own thoughts on what’s the right way or wrong way to handle cast iron, but I am very apathetic to those thoughts. If a method works, it works. This series of cast iron posts will probably be controversial, but that doesn’t bother me. I don’t judge if someone soaps their cast iron, or uses salt and a tater. I have weirder things to do in my day. Rather watch the video instead of reading? Check out my YouTube channel here!

What, exactly, is cast iron? Cast iron is a style of cookware made of iron that has been cast in a certain style. There are many styles of cast iron including but not limited to: frying pans, Dutch ovens, muffin pans, cake pans, and griddles. They tend to last a lifetime, sometimes even many lifetimes, and are very hard to destroy.

Where can you get cast iron? I am a huge fan of the hunt. Cast iron can be found at thrift stores and estate sales, both of which are like gold mines. Even rusty and worn pieces can be rehabbed. You may even have friends or family with cast iron hidden away in attics, basements, or in the back of a cabinet, so I suggest to ask everyone if they have neglected cast iron. Most stores that carry camping gear will have cast iron, as well. I have found it in many big box stores in camping sections next to shovels that fold down to tiny little… wait, off topic. However, the problem I have found with cast iron from regular big box stores is that they are not sanded smooth on the cooking surface. Old school cast iron were sanded smooth, where new ones generally are sold with deep divots and dimpling. When you buy cast iron with dimpling, you will need to work harder to fill those dimples to create a smooth surface that will cultivate more even cooking and great nonstick qualities.

How can you choose the right cast iron? I can’t really help much here, as everyone has their own preferences, but I will sure try! I choose as old as I can find, which means I ignore any sold new in store and look up any markings on the bottom of cast iron I find in a thrift store. I also feel the bottoms of the cooking surface for how smooth it is, as a smoother surface will be easier to season and get an optimal cook from it. I test the weight, I like heavier pieces because I have read they hold up better against extreme temperature changes and are less likely to crack if they are heavier. I favor deeper pieces, which I have figured out with use, because a deeper pan will be more multifunctional. I can simmer sauces, I can roast more veggies at once, I can make one pan meals that way. I do have 2 shallow pans and 2 deep pans, the deep ones are the winners. Now, would I choose pans with rust or caked on food? Definitely. In this series I will go over how to rehab a cast iron piece, and rust and food are easy fixes! But a smooth cooking surface takes longer to correct.

What utensils should be used in cast iron cooking? Pretty much whatever you want will work, but some pieces will help to maintenance the cast iron FOR you. I have used wood, stainless steel, silicone, and nylon cooking utensil in mine safely. Even regular forks and spoons. The nylon pieces will start melting if left in the hot pan, the wood will scorch under similar circumstances. Silicone holds up extremely well, but watch what the handle is made from! I favor my barbeque grill spatula that has a sharp metal edge. That spatula helps to maintain an even cooking surface but sloughing off any food chunks before they burn on. I also will scrape my grill spatula onto my cast iron between uses to help to keep the surfaces smooth and even.

Does cast iron really boost iron content in food cooked in it? Is this healthy? Yes to both. As a woman who loses blood every month, getting iron in my diet regularly is important to me. But I also prepare food for people who do not lose blood monthly and was wondering about their safety, as too much iron can actually cause heart problems. Upon researching, I found that cast iron does leech between 2-6mg of iron into the food prepared in it, and non-menstrual people are recommended to get about 8mg of iron a day, and menstrual peope are recommended to get 18mg a day. Considering many people, in America at least, are deficient in iron, this cookware seems to be a pretty safe choice.

What are the ways cast iron can be used? Ok, this part gets me hella excited. I no longer own any baking sheets or whatever people use in their ovens. I do use Pyrex for some baking, but mostly for food storage. Cast iron can easily transition between stove top to oven. You can roast veggies, fry bacon, bake cookies, damn near anything! And, big bonus, you can cook over a campfire with it! I always take my deep cast iron with the smallest diameter camping with me, as I can just set it directly into the fire to boil water for tea, to fry my eggs, and to even cook my hot dogs. I absolutely adore the versatility of my cast iron.

Is cast iron truly nonstick? I am not the authority on this. My cast iron is nonstick to a point, but there are times that oil or ghee are still a necessity. The big tip I have to avoid sticking is to preheat the pan. Yes, having a well seasoned pan is a major factor in how nonstick it is, but I am yet to see a pan so nonstick that you can cook absolutely everything in it without oil. This is why I can’t be the authority on it being nonstick. Hell, I can’t claim to be the authority on cast iron, period. I know only as far as I know. However, I know my pans are very nonstick, but I still use a little oil to cook my eggs, and I always preheat to get the best results.

Check in next week for Part Two of Intro To Cast Iron! I hope you enjoyed it, and please feel free to leave suggestions, questions, and more info about cast iron!

You can also find me on facebook here: Desiree Celeste

SnapChat: DroppinEffBombs

 

blog

 

Whole 30 Thursday Recipes: Week 3

My “Ode to Kale” week!

GREEN KALE AND EGGS

food5

 

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (doesn’t matter type)
  • 1/2 bunch fresh kale or 1 cup fresh frozen kale
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • garlic, salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/2 avocado or 2 tablespoons guacamole

Poach eggs: Bring water and vinegar to boil in a deep pot, crack one egg into a jar, bowl, or cup. Once water is boiling, gently lower the egg into the water, repeat. Allow both eggs to boil until desired readiness (poached soft is about 3-5 min, poached hard is 8-10 min).

Sautee Kale: Heat oil and garlic in a pan to medium high, add rinsed kale and lower heat to medium. Stir gently until wilted (about 8 min).

Layer kale, eggs, and avocado (optional hot sauce or salsa!) for a delicious meal!!

HOT TACO SALAD

food3

  • 1/2 bunch kale or 1 cup fresh frozen kale
  • 1/4lb ground beef cooked in taco seasoning
  • salsa
  • guacamole
  • diced onions

Sautee kale to above recipe, layer with ground beef, salsa, guacamole, and onions. Enjoy a delicious, lazy meal!

CHICKEN OR THE EGG SOUP

food1

  • 1.5 cups chicken broth
  • .5 cups coconut milk
  • 1 chicken breast oven baked and cubed
  • 2 carrots sliced
  • .5 cup frozen, canned, or fresh green beans
  • a ton of kale!
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Bring broth to a boil, cook garlic, carrots, kale, and green beans until soft, add chicken and slowly drizzle beaten eggs into the boiling broth. Add coconut milk last and allow to simmer about 5 minutes to allow flavors to meld.

 

Whole 30 Thursday Week 3

Welcome back to Whole 30 Thursday! I am about to embark on Week 3 and I wanted to update with my observations of this past week. Rather watch me talk? Follow me to YouTube!

First off, I finally got bloated last week. But then within a few days it subsided again. I upped my fat intake and it took care of the bloat and the crazy cravings, which was a cool thing. I also am no longer struggling with my mood and energy. I am back to having energy during the day and sleeping well at night, finally! I have, however, fallen into food boredom. Kale was hella cheap at my local grocer, so I have just been cooking a ton of it for all of my meals! The most interesting thing to me, though, was further understanding my relationship with food. I was STRESSED yesterday, and immediately wanted nonWhole 30 foods. The connection between emotion and food is still so strong with me! Lastly, kind of a random thing, but I didn’t even notice my PMS symptoms. Generally, I get cramps and bloating (which may be the bloating from earlier in the week?) but this time I was just a little moody and then it passed in the same day.

Sorry for the lame post this week! Back to cooking for me!

Whole 30 Thursday: Week 2 Recipes

Watch this video for the tutorial on ghee making!

GHEE

  • Butter
  • Sauce pot
  • Spoon
  • Jar
  • Funnel
  • Cheese cloth or cotton fabric (for straining)

Put butter into sauce pot and set to medium high heat, bring to boil. Turn heat down so the butter can simmer (medium/medium low), stir every 5 minutes. Once milk solids have fallen to the bottom of the pot and have caramelized (around the 30-40 minute mark), remove pot from heat and allow to cool about 10-20 minutes, pour through the straining cloth in a funnel into the jar to store. Can be stored in pantry or fridge.

Tuna Cakes

  • 2 cans tuna
  • 2 eggs
  • seasoning (suggested: dill, parsley, paprika, salt, pepper, thyme)

Combine tuna and eggs with whatever seasoning you like, I like mine spicy! Allow this mix to set while oven preheats to 350. Spoon onto baking sheet, cast iron, or pyrex and cook for 15 min, flip and cook an additional 3-5.

Roasting Veggies

  • Veggies
  • Oil
  • Salt and pepper

Chop veggies of your choice, toss with oil, salt, and pepper arrange single deep onto a baking apparatus (I use my pyrex for cast iron, baking sheets also work). Bake at 450. More delicate veggies (zucchini, green beans) take 8-12 min, more dense veggies can take up to 30 min (carrots, brussel sprouts, potatoes), cruciferous veggies tend to take about 20 min (cauliflower, broccoli). Once they start browning and you can stick a fork in them, you know they’re done.

Whole 30 Thursdays: Week 2

My YouTube video recap on Week 1! Click here.

Check out my “Healthy Heart” playlist!

Hey! I have officially accomplished 7 days of Whole 30 and I am pretty proud of myself! In the past few days, I have experienced no bloating and have learned something interesting about my habits. In general, I don’t eat until full, I eat until bloated. With Whole 30 revolving around foods that cause me no bloating, I am learning now what ‘full’ feels like. I also have been getting strange energy bursts late at night, which make me super tired during the day and keep me awake at night. Lastly, I have been having cravings. Not craving non compliant foods I used to love and eat prior to Whole 30. No. Foods I don’t even really care for. My brain is all sorts of off kilter right now, and I’ve been so moody that I can barely stand myself! Ugh. Please, week 2, balance my brain!

Check out the recipes from this week!