Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How About A Few Home Remedies?

Sometimes you need quick action and you don't have the right medication or the proper name-brand cleaner in your house.  Here are a few "in a pinch" remedies using items that are usually in most everyone's cabinet....

1.  Splinter - Use your bottle of white Elmer's Glue-All.  Pour it on the splinter, let it dry and then peel it off your skin.  The splinter should stick to the glue and be pulled right out.

2.  Skin blemish - Before bed, cover it with honey and put an adhesive bandage like Band-Aid over it.  It should be much better in the morning because the honey speeds healing and kills bacteria.  It also keeps the skin sterile.

3.  Arthritis in your hands or fingers - Try oatmeal - Mix 2 cups of oats and a cup of water and cook in the microwave for a minute.  Let it cool a little, then apply the warm oatmeal to your hands.  It provides a soothing relief to arthritis.

4.  Broken blister - Pull out the Listerine.  Dab it on the blister to disinfect it.  Might burn a little, but you're tough, right?

5.  Muscle ache from the flu - Horseradish to the rescue!  A tablespoon of horseradish mixed with a cup of olive oil provides a terrific massage oil after you let it set for about 30 minutes.

  I'll be back in a week or so with a few more home remedies....

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

How's your Monday going?  Nice and cool, I hope!
Today we have another recipe that is terrific when cooked in a cast-iron skillet.  This cobbler is a traditional cast-iron dish, but our ancestors would have frowned on today's recipe.  It uses canned peaches and the crust is super-easy.  It's almost a dump recipe.  I should have gotten mine browner (see picture on the left), so use that picture to know what NOT to do :)

Super-Easy Peach Cobbler:

You will need:

1 stick of butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
2 t. baking powder
1 c. milk
1 large can sliced peaches - don't drain them

Melt the butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet.

Mix the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder together, then add the milk and mix well.

Pour this into the buttery skillet, spread to the edges, then add the can of undrained peaches.

Bake 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Hope your Friday is going great!!  Here's a dog for your enjoyment....

Sofi the Talking Schnauzer has teeth like little razor blades, but can't pop a balloon.  What gives???

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Have You Had Your Identification Stolen?

Hello....As we approach the holidays, identity theft becomes more prevalant.  There are a few precautions that we can take to ward off these attacks on our privacy....

1.  Use your work phone number on your checks instead of your home phone number.  The less information that you can hand to people, the less chance you have of getting your identity stolen.  If you feel comfortable using your work address on your checks, do that as well.

2.  Don't sign the back of your credit cards.  Instead, put "Photo ID required".  If your cards do get stolen, and the cashier is alert, this may stop the bad guy in his tracks.

3.  Keep a photocopy of your passport in a safe place - a safety deposit box or a very safe place in your home.

4.  Empty your wallet contents, spread the cards across the photocopy machine and make a photocopy of every card in the wallet, including your drivers license.  Then turn them all over and photocopy the backs.  Keep the photocopies in a safe place in your home or in a safety deposit box.  If your wallet is stolen, you will know immediately what cards must be replaced, and each card should have a phone number that you can call immediately to cancel.  Time is of the essence if your cards are stolen - Before you even realize they are gone the bad guy will be using them in gas pumps at convenience stores.  They know to use these cards immediately, and they know where to use them.

5.  File a police report quickly, and do it in the jurisdiction where the theft occurred.  You probably won't get your property recovered and there may not even be an investigation, but filing the report shows your credit card providers that you are serious and diligent and that you are doing all you can to minimize the damage.

6.  Place a fraud alert on your name immediately.  You have to call three national credit reporting companies to do this, but it is essential.  After you file this alert, any company issuing new credit in your name has to call you for your permission first.  I believe the free fraud alert lasts for 90 days, but I'm not sure about this.  Here are the three numbers to call:
Trans Union - 1-800-680-7289
Equifax -  1-800-525-6285
Experian  -  1-888-397-3742

7.  Finally, call the Social Security Administration fraud line and report that your number may be used by a thief.  1-800-269-0271.

Be prepared, and hopefully you will never have to go through an identity theft.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello....Fall is fast approaching, finally!!  Here's another recipe that works great when using a cast-iron pan.  You don't normally think of cast-iron when you think of these sandwiches, but try it - you'll love it!

Monte Cristo Sandwiches:

For 4 sandwiches, you will need:

8 slices of white sandwich bread
2 t. Dijon mustard
8 oz. thinly-sliced roasted turkey
8 oz. thinly-sliced smoked ham
8 oz. thinly-sliced Swiss cheese
4 large eggs
1/2 c. milk
1/2 stick butter, unsalted

Spread 4 of the bread slices with 1/2 t. of Dijon mustard.  Place on each of the mustard slices 1/4 each of the turkey, ham and cheese, then top with the other bread slices to make 4 sandwiches.

Put the eggs and milk in a medium bowl and whisk until blended well.

In a large cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.

Dip each sandwich into the batter.  Turn the sandwiches to let the sandwiches absorb the batter well.  In the buttery skillet, cook the sandwiches until they are crispy on the outside, the cheese has melted and they are golden brown.  This will be about 2-4 minutes on each side.

Cut each sandwich on the diagonal to form two triangles and serve quickly.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

It's shaping up to be a beautiful September Friday!!

Michelle's double-trouble Schnauzers Smokey and Shadow know the value of a good nap.  Looks like their grand-dad does, too!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Oprah Book Club Selection #6 - Paradise by Toni Morrison

For September's Oprah Book Club challenge, I have chosen Paradise, by Toni Morrison....

Paradise by Toni Morrison. 1997, Alfred A. Knopf. 318 pages.

“They kill the white girl first”. Another great first line, from a compelling book by one of the premier authors of our time, Toni Morrison. I listened to this book, and wished I had chosen the hard copy instead, because I often felt the need to go back and re-read pages. This book can be rather confusing, and not being able to page back makes it even more so.

This is the story of a small Oklahoma town called Ruby, formed in 1950 and inhabited by mostly-African Americans. The founders intended the town to be free of the prejudices and hatred encountered in other parts of the world, and the little town was, indeed paradise, at least for a time.

People being people, of course, Ruby could not be paradise forever. The base, animalistic tendencies of human beings eventually destroyed what the founding fathers of Ruby built, culminating in a bloody 1976 event that begins and ends the book.

As troubles begin to creep into Ruby, the good people of Ruby look for reasons. They focus on the people who are “different” from themselves – a group of down and out women of various colors and ages who, because of their circumstances, live together in an old convent at the edge of town. These women provide support and sustenance to each other, gently caring for the older women and bolstering those who have been beaten down by people and troubles.

This is a book about tolerance and intolerance. Even the African-Americans are intolerant of those not of the same blood (color) as themselves. The book is non-linear – it veers wildly – starting with the ending and moving back and forth through time. Again, I strongly recommend that you read, rather than listen to, the book for this very reason.

I found the ending rather ambiguous, probably by the author’s design. It’s not an easy book to read, but it will definitely keep your interest and make you think.

Out of 5 stars, I give Paradise…..

* * *

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello, hope your Monday's going good.  Here's another recipe that goes great in cast-iron.  You can also use another type of cookware, but to make it taste its best, pull out the cast iron!

Rancher's Breakfast Skillet:

You will need:

5 strips of bacon
2 T. finely-stopped onion
3 medium potatoes, cooked and cubed
6 eggs, beaten
1/2 C. mild cheddar, shredded

In a large cast-iron skillet, cook the bacon until crisp, then place it on paper towels to drain. 

Into the drippings, place the onion and potato and cook.  Then pour the beaten eggs and cook, stirring gently, until the eggs are done.  rRemove from heat, sprinkle the cheese on top and let it stand until the cheese is melted.

Serves about 4 hungry people.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Hello - Hope you are having a wonderful Friday!

Tery and Barb's Max is enjoying the dog days and dreaming of a snowy, beautiful Christmas with lots of bones....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some Cast Iron Rules

Hello - How about some more on cast iron cookware?

Even though cast iron is tough, like with all types of cookware, there are some hard and fast rules that should always be followed when caring for your prized possessions.  There are only a few, and I will list them here.  They aren't hard, and you will find that cast iron is so wonderful that this little bit of care won't bother you a bit. 

Here's a cast iron rule: Once the pan is seasoned (or if it comes pre-seasoned), never use soap when cleaning the pan. Hot water and maybe a plastic (not metal), scrubby should do the trick, and with some things such as biscuits or cornbread, you shouldn't need to wash the pan at all. Just wipe with a paper towel.

Here's another cast iron rule: Never, ever wash cast iron in the dishwater. Along with removing the seasoning, it can ruin the finish and cause you a lot more work. If you have to wash it, hand wash with no soap.

Another cast iron rule: After using the pan, always coat the inside of the pan lightly with vegetable oil or mineral oil before storing.  You don't want rust to develop, do you?

Yet another cast iron rule: Always, always dry your piece immediately after washing.  Never let it air dry. (This is another reason it can't go in a dishwasher).  Dry it with a dry towel, not a damp one.  Ensure that your pan is absolutely dry, then rub a little oil on it, then store.

And one more cast iron rule:  Make sure you have a lot of good, heavy trivets and potholders.  Cast iron is very heavy, especially with food in it, and is unforgiving when it sits on a cabinet or when you pull it out of the oven with a thin potholder.  You can purchase a super-potholder just for cast iron, or double up if you need to.

See, these are pretty easy rules to follow!  If I think of more, I'll post them later.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Monday Recipe Blog

Hello, hope you're having a beautiful Monday.  It's almost football season, so things are looking up!

Continuing on my quest to convince the world to cook in cast iron, here is another recipe that just tastes better when cooked in a cast iron skillet.  Of course, you can bake these in lesser cookware, but it's just not the same. 

For years I have tried to replicate my grandmother's biscuits.  Still not there, but this recipe comes fairly close.  My grandmother had a huge, deep flour bin built into her cabinets.  It held 2 things - flour and an empty red baking powder can.  The can served as the biscuit cutter.  The cast iron skillet was oiled up with bacon grease, and she would dip each biscuit in the bacon grease, then turn it over and place it in the skillet.  This way, both sides got the benefit of the grease.  Maybe not the healthiest food in the world, but she baked them every day at breakfast and dinner and lived to be 92.  My grandfather, who loved her cooking, died at 91.  Hmmmm.....

Ok, here comes the recipe - not her's, but it's pretty darn close....

Buttermilk Biscuits:

4 c. flour - all purpose
2 T. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
2/3 c. unsalted butter (I'll bet my grandmother used lard)
1 1/2 c. buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place the dry ingredients in a bowl and blend.  If you have a food processer with a chopping blade, it will come in handy.  If not, no big deal. 

Cut the butter into chunks, then cut it into the flour mixture.  This is where you would use that chopping blade.  Don't worry about leaving a few little chunks of butter, you won't get rid of them all. 

Add the buttermilk and mix.  With your hands knead the dough some, not a lot.  Pat the dough out on floured wax paper until it's about 3/4 inch thick.  You can also use a rolling pin. 

Cut the biscuits and place them in an oiled 10 or 12 inch cast iron skillet.  If they touch each other, their sides will be soft.  If they don't, all sides will be crunchy.  Your choice.

Bake about 25 or 30 minutes, until golden brown.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Friday Dog Blog

Hello and a HOT TGIF!  Here is your weekly dog....

Sofi Schnauzer gets her hair done at home.  Through teeth-gritting and whining, sighing and glaring.  She gets a treat when it's done, but I'm not sure she thinks it's worth it....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How To Season Cast Iron Cookware

Hello everybody!  Some more about healthy cast iron cooking today....

While it's true that cast iron is practically indestructible and, like cockroaches, would probably survive an atomic bomb, there are some special things that you must do to keep your pan black and shiny with a non-stick surface.

The first thing after restoring an old piece that you must do is to re-season the pan.  This will fill in the microscopic holes that are in all cast-iron and make your pan smooth as glass (hopefully).  If you buy new cast iron, you can pay a few more bucks and purchase a pre-seasoned piece.  These pans are ready for the oven immediately, after washing the pan with water, no soap.  But you will still need to re-season now and then.

Ok, so you have your pan that needs seasoning or re-seasoning.  Here's how I do it:

1.  Make sure the cast iron is free of rust and gunk (see earlier post).
2.  Rub the entire pan, including handle and bottom, with a thin coat of Crisco or vegetable oil.  I have found that Crisco does better and oil can leave splotches, but I don't generally have Crisco in my cabinet, so I  use Canola oil, which does fine, although there may be a splotch or two.  Don't overdo it with the oil/Crisco, just a thin coat.  If you use Crisco, put a cookie sheet on a lower rung in case the Crisco drips.
3. Put your oven rack on the top-most rung that will still accomodate your pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
4. Place your pan, upside down on the top rung and bake at 400 degrees for one hour.
5. Then turn off your oven and let it cool down with the pan still in it.
6. When the pan in completely cool, remove it from the oven.
7. You may have to repeat this process several times before the pan achieves the sheen that you want.  If it isn't nonstick when you cook most things, then put it through the seasoning process again.  Remember, though, no one is going to cook a hamburger patty or something similar without some sticking.