Cast Iron Cooking: Seasoning

I was finally able to unpack a few more kitchen boxes from storage today and found our brand new set of Lodge brand cast iron cookware! We came across an amazing deal a few months ago and just couldn’t pass it up.  A round griddle, small and large skillet and a dutch oven, all for only $65! Amazing. Alas, it is still on sale but not THAT good of a sale. Check it out.

Lodge preseasons all of their cast iron before shipping but it was highly recommended by others to season again before using. I took their advice, and if you have never done so before, here is a step by step on how to season cast iron cookware.

1. Preheat your oven yo 400 degrees.  Unpack your beautiful pieces and marvel at their appearance. Then rinse them in hot water and towel dry.

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2. Choose your oil, Lodge recommends vegetable oil, but you can you ANY oil you wish.  Many people have recently used coconut oil and highly recommend it.

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3. Rub a smooth, even, coating of oil on the pans.

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4. Lay tin foil on the bottom rack of your oven to catch any oil drips.  Place your oiled pans upside down on the middle rack.

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5. Heat for 45 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the pans cool completely in the oven, DO NOT remove them until the pans and the oven are completely cool.  Your iron might crack if this is not done properly.

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6. Now you can use your pan! You may have to season multiple times if you are finding your food is still sticking.

Have you used cast iron before? Have a successful seasoning method?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

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Canning Simple Tomato Salsa

Our tomatoes have finally started to turn red and now we need to use them up.  What better way then sauce and salsa!  Because I do not own a pressure canner, I had to find a highly acidic salsa recipe to water bath can.  This is a pretty simple tomato salsa recipe from Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars. It is far more tart then I am used to due to the cider vinegar, but I am sure after sitting awhile the flavors will come together and it will be just as enjoyable as any other salsa.

If you do not own this book, here is a pretty comparable recipe for free on the internet 😉


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Do you prefer a canned salsa or a fresh pico de gallo?

[Disclosure:  Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything thats recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Canning Sweet Pickle Relish and Bread and Butter Pickles

We planted 4 small cucumber plants in our garden this year.  Those 4 plants sure did produce a whole lot of cucumbers.  We had dozens and dozens of the those crunchy green guys.  What we couldn’t eat or give away we decided to preserve.  Since refrigerator pickles only last a month, and there are only so many pickles we can eat in a month, canning bread and butter pickles as well as relish was our best bet.

I used both the sweet pickle relish and bread and butter pickle recipes from Liana Krissoff’s Book Canning for a New Generation. I highly recommend this book if you really want to do some yummy canning, as well as Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars.  If you do not have either of these books, I found some pretty comparable recipes for free on the internet: Sweet Pickle Relish and Bread and Butter Pickles.

I cannot wait the 4-6 weeks they take to cure to try them!

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Do you have a favorite pickle or relish recipe to share?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Preserving the Summer Squash and Zucchini Harvest

Our summer squash harvest was UNBELIEVABLE this year.  We had an over abundance of the green and yellow squash cluttering our countertop for weeks, and still do. We also received a ton in our CSA.  This seems to be the norm.  Even if you do not have your own garden, I am sure family, friends and neighbors are practically begging you to take some off their hands.

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So, what to do with all this fresh and nutritious produce?  You can simply eat it now; sauté with olive oil and garlic, roast in the oven with other squash, make into pasta and toss with pesto or shred and use in muffins and breads.  Speaking of muffins, here are our favorite! YUM!

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Besides eating all your zucchini and yellow squash right away, you can also preserve it for use later in the year when squash is not in season or available.  We chose to preserve a lot of our harvest by freezing and dehydrating.  You can also can it if you like, we have not tried this method yet.

We make a really great stuffed squash with rice and ground turkey, but it is hot and time consuming to make in the summer.  So we made, blanched and froze the boats to stuff when the weather gets cooler. Also, we sliced and blanched squash coins to freeze.  With these you can just deforest and sauté for a quick side dish. Make sure you blanch your squash before freezing, this will insure it doesn’t get frost bit or go soggy before using.

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Utilize the dehydrator as well for preservation.  This is one of my favorite methods, it doesn’t take up room in your freezer and the dehydrated product last for a very long time.  We shredded and then dehydrated our zucchini.  Find the how-to here.  Later, we can rehydrate the squash with a little water and use in breads, muffins, sauces and sautés.  So many possibilities with this.

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How was your summer squash harvest this year?  How are you eating or preserving it?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

Super Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Crazy rainy nights and sunny 90 degree days have awarded us with a ton of cucumbers in the garden.  Before I decided to take the plunge and go all out with my first pickle canning adventure, I figured I would get my toes wet with a very easy refrigerator pickle recipe instead.  There are thousands of recipes and how-to’s floating around the internet for refrigerator pickles, but I chose the this one from Kansas City Mamas because I had all the ingredients on hand.

You pretty much just wash the jars, wash and cut the cucumbers, place them in the jars with the spices, mix the brined, pour that over everything and place the jars in the fridge. Thats it! Really!

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These are just a basic garlic, however, you can play around with the flavors all you like. What is your favorite pickle flavor?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

 

Garlic Scrape Pesto with Fresh from the Garden Basil

Garlic Scrapes, if you have not tried them your missing out!  Think of them like the scallion of the garlic world.  Click the pic to visit Green City Market Blog and find out more about them.

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We received a half dozen garlic scrapes in our CSA share this week. I decided to use basil from our own garden to make a beautiful pesto. Here is how I did it:

Garlic Scrape Pesto

Rough chop about 6 garlic scrapes and throw them in the food processor
Add about 2-3 handfuls of basil and about 1/2 cup of pine nuts
Process until smooth, pulsing and scraping as needed
Slowly add about 1/3 cup of olive oil in a steady stream while the processor is running
When it reaches your desired consistency mix in a a squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste

You can add this right to your cooked pasta with some cooking water to thin out or can save in the fridge for a week and freezer for months!  I can not do dairy so we left the parmesan cheese out but feel free to add it if you wish. Enjoy!

 

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Do you enjoy garlic scrapes? What do you make besides pesto with your bounty?

[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

From Scratch: Concentrated Lemonade Syrup

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Well, its mid-April and its rainy, windy and cold here.  So, I decided to start thinking warm and went ahead and made some homemade lemonade.  I even made a large batch of concentrated lemonade syrup for the hubby to enjoy when he gets home from work, aren’t I just a great wife! hehe

Why make syrup instead of just a pitcher of lemonade?  Well, in our house we have a variety of tastes and preferences, some like a stronger lemonade and some a lighter version.  The syrup allows each person to customize their glass and it also takes up way less space in your fridge.

Here is the basic recipe, feel free to change it depending on your families preferences for sour and sweet:

Concentrated Lemonade Syrup

1 1/2 c sugar (we use Florida Crystals organic minimally processed cane sugar)
2 c water

3-4 lemons, juiced and strained

  • Boil sugar and water in a small sauce pan until sugar is dissolved, remove from heat to cool
  • Add lemon juice to a mason jar, pour cooled sugar water over juice, screw on lid and shake to mix
  • To make a glass of lemonade: add 2-4 tablespoons of syrup to a glass, cover with ice and add water, taste and adjust if needed

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What is your favorite way to enjoy lemonade?

From Scratch: Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

What would you say is more “from scratch” than a flaky buttery buttermilk biscuit?  I would say, not very much!

I tried my hand at this recipe from Jill over at the Prairie Homestead Blog.  Its a simple, straight forward recipe that you can change up to fit your families needs.  I used whole wheat flour and organic unrefined brown sugar, so mine look a little more tan as apposed to her golden crumb.  Also, I used the food processor and pulsed the ingredients instead of hand mixing.  Did I mention from start to glorious finish only took 18 minutes?! REALLY! Quick, easy and healthy, I’d say its a winner.

Give them a try and let me know how they turnout!

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From Scratch: Super Easy Homemade Country Bread

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On my mission to conquer my irrational fear of all things yeasty, I recently tackled a batch of King Arthur Flours  “The Easiest Loaf of Bread You Will Ever Make.”  And guess what?  It WAS easy. I changed the type of flour, however, to organic bread flour instead of AP, just in case you decided to try this recipe yourself.

The entire family really enjoyed it!  It took about 3 hours from start to finish but that was almost all just proofing time.  If you’re looking for an airy, holed, chewy crumb, this is not the recipe for you.  It honestly reminds me of sandwich bread and made terrific toast with a tight coarse crumb and even texture.  At just over $1.50 a loaf you can’t beat it.  When is the last time you bought Wonder Bread for $1.50, not where I am from.

Tip: I did find that my Standard Kitchen Aid with the dough hook attachment was adequate for mixing but NOT for kneading.  I have a professional series Kitchen Aid Mixer 6 quart that might be strong enough, use your best judgment.  I turned out the dough and hand kneaded for the 3-5 minutes.  It was great exercise and makes the finished product that much more enjoyable and satisfying.

If you try out the recipe let me know how it turned out! Try not to be intimidated, it really was easy!

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[Disclosure: Salty Suburban Homestead is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We receive a small commission whenever a product is purchased through these links.  So if you decide to order anything that is recommended on the blog, we would LOVE it if you used the affiliated links. We thank you in advance for your support!]

How to Start Meal Planning

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Do you plan your weekly meals?  If not, you should!  Here are some benefits of taking the time to Meal Plan; saves money, less stress, fewer trips to the store, creates opportunity for healthier eating, eliminates the great family dinner debate, and is an easy place to start organizing your entire life.  Step by step, here is how we tackle this:

1. Create a Shopping List-
To get set up, first make a list of everything the family normally purchases at the grocery store, add to that other things you might cook with now and then.  Next, set up your list according to the aisles in the store and group the items accordingly.  Make sure to leave some blank spaces in each section to add items that may not be on your original list. Your best bet is to type this up and print out copies to use each week.  When our garden is producing we will be able to eliminate the produce section of this list and save even more $$.

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2. Create a Weekly Menu-
Use a simple spread sheet or get creative! Here is a basic sample you can type up and print out: Weekly Menu. You can also use a chalk board, magnetic board, your refrigerator, or any of the thousands of ideas floating around Pinterest.

3. Choose a Day to Plan and a Day to Shop-
For us, it works best to plan leisurely on Friday when we get a few seconds then do the actual shopping on Saturday mornings.  You can also plan and shop on the same day, whatever works best with your schedule. Also, you may choose to plan for the entire month all in one day then just shop each week accordingly.

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4. Read your Local Sale Flyers-
When you are ready to sit down and plan, grab your local stores sale flyer(s). Take a look at their major sales and any other items you may need to purchase that week.  We try to coordinate whats on sale with what your menu looks like. For example, if ground turkey meat is on sale we might make chili, meatballs or minestrone soup.  After consulting the flyer and taking into account the weather, family activities, whats growing in your garden, special events, whats fresh this time of year and holidays, it is time to make the menu.

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5. Making your Weekly Menu-
Making your menu might seem daunting but its only 7 days, right? You can do it! For our family we use pretty much the same formula each week, with a few variations here and there: a soup, a pasta dish, breakfast for dinner, take-out, a major protein, vegetarian and something new.  We did not intend to do this, it is just how the process evolved and it works for us. We really just plug in the recipes for each items and give it a day and its done. Easy.

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6. Check off your Shopping List:
Now, go through all of your recipes and highlight all the ingredients you need to purchase on your shopping list. Then check your pantry and refrigerator for every day items you need to replenish and mark those off as well. For example; we know every week that we need to purchase milk, eggs and bread, it is not on the weekly menu but we know our family needs it. You may also wish to go online and print any coupons for items your purchasing to save some extra cash.

7. Do your Shopping and Stick to the Menu:
All that is left is shop and cook.  Make sure to stick to your menu during the week because then all your hard work is for naught.

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