A Few Simple Steps To A Properly Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet

A Few Simple Steps To A Properly Seasoned Cast Iron SkilletCast iron skillets are wonderful things.  They work on and in the oven, properly seasoned, they are non-stick, and they’re heavy.  Heavy is good.  Properly seasoned is the key, however.  Soak it in some soap and water and you’ve got a pan that will stick just about anything to the inside.  So how to season a pan to get that perfect non-stick surface?

1. Pre-heat oven to 325° to 350° F
2. Wash skillet with warm, soapy water and dry thoroughly.
3. Apply a thin coat of vegetable oil, or vegetable shortening with a paper towel on all surfaces, inside and out.  Everything.
4. Place in oven on center rack, upside down. Put a baking sheet on the rack beneath to catch anything that might migrate off it.
5. Bake for an hour, turn off heat, open door, and allow to cool inside oven before removing. 
6. You are done!  Enjoy your newly seasoned pan.

A Few Simple Steps To A Properly Seasoned Cast Iron SkilletTo wash, scrub with hot water and a brush without detergent.  Don’t use soap.  Never use sharp or metal utensils while cooking and never place in the dishwasher. If it does in fact find its way into the dishwasher, just repeat seasoning process.

Sous Vide On The Cheap (With Stuff You Already Own)

Sous Vide on The Cheap

I’ve been meaning to toy around with this for quite some time.  They’re always screwing around with it on Top Chef and everyone raves about the results.  As if that weren’t enough, it’s hugely accurate at temperature control so food comes out exactly the way that you want it.  Every time.

Sous vide.  It sounds like a great idea.  Sous vide is french for “under vacuum” and that’s generally the principal by which it gets the job done.  Food gets vacuum sealed inside plastic bags and then is cooked in a water bath at a low temperature for hours and hours until it’s done.  If the end product needs to be cooked to 150 degrees F, you cook it in 150 degree water.  No way that it can get overcooked then.  No matter how hard you try there’s no way that piece of meat can go higher than 150 degrees.

It’s simple, elegant, and pretty much foolproof.  The only drawback is the equipment.  At a minimum you’re looking at $100 for a decent vacuum sealer and $400 for an immersion circulator, which keeps the water bath at a constant temperature.  Great for hotels, restaurants, and professional chefs.  Ridiculous for the home chef unless you’ve got a trust fund and acres of counter space.  I’ve neither.  I imagine you’re in a similar situation.

Repurposing a few home items can get you results pretty close to what professionals are producing without shelling out any money at all.  Even if you lack any of the stuff I used it’s unlikely you’d spend more than $30 of your hard-earned money to replicate by meager equipment.  So what do you need then? Continue reading

Make Your Own Low Acid Coffee

Coffee

When I was in college there came a point that I started getting sick every day.  I mean every day.  My stomach always felt as though there was some sort of civil war being played out in a third world country, replete with beat up Toyota pickups, machine guns mounted in the beds, and 30 rebels hanging off the side.  Ugly stuff.  One day I finally figured out that this was because of my healthy diet.  I grew up drinking orange juice.  I never drank soda.  During college I discovered coffee.  Lot of coffee.  For breakfast I might have a giant Dunkin Donuts coffee with 14 pounds of sugar and a liter of milk in it, a quart of Tropicana orange juice, and maybe a honey bun or some other healthy food as an actual solid.  I was Jim Fixx. Continue reading

Finding Hot Spots in Your Microwave

Finding Microwave Hot SpotsNow that most microwaves have turntables inside this is perhaps a bit less relevant.  I’ve had both types however, and it’s fairly useful information even if your microwave does spin your food around.  If a cold or hot spot is smack in the middle, you might want to know.

You might figure that food would heat fairly evenly inside your microwave, but you’d be wrong.  The way microwaves work creates little peaks and valleys or radiation that make spots of increased and decreased microwave activity.  The spinning/rotating plate in the bottom of your microwave aids in hiding these areas.   I know there are spots in my microwave that heat a mug full of water in less than two minutes to tea making temperature.  And there are spots that take longer, even with the spinning plate at the bottom.  So what to do? Continue reading

Cheap Kitchen Trick #1 – Fake a Steamer

Fake a SteamerLooking to put your kitchen together and not looking to spend a fortune on 20 different tools?  There’s no need for a steaming rack, rice cooker, or folding petal shaped steamer deal.  You can replace all those things with something you may already have.  And if you don’t, you can buy just one item and use it for multiple purposes.  Foodie Alton Brown is always railing on against unitaskers.  In other words things that only serve one specific purpose in the kitchen.  Expensive and unnecessary.  Usually you can find one tool that will serve two, three, four, or more purposes.  Great way to save room, money, and resources.

So here’s the plan.  Need to steam something?  A simple strainer suspended over a large pot makes a great substitute.  Just make sure the water in the bottom of the pot doesn’t touch the basket of the strainer.  Simple and elegant.  A slightly oversize lid will fit over the top and keep most of the steam in while still letting some vent out.  It may not be perfect for items that need extended steaming, but for stuff like asparagus, broccoli, and other veggies, it’s fantastic.

Fake a Steamer