The Kitchen Tools Needed To Achieve Healthy Cooking

The Kitchen Tools Needed To Achieve Healthy Cooking

The following video is thanks to “The Weston A. Price Foundation.” The video is themed: “Journey Back to the Kitchen” and hosted by Sarah Pope, who is a local chapter leader in Florida since 2002.

She will present the appropriate kitchen utensils to use, and the undesirable kitchen tools to toss out. Sarah Pope also blogs at The Healthy Home Economist.

The following information, video and written script is credited to “The Weston A. Price Foundation”.

INTRO

Hi Everyone, my name is Sarah Pope. You may know me from my blog TheHealthyHomeEconomist. I’ve also been a Chapter Leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation since 2002.

In the next few minutes, I’m going to talk to you about setting up your kitchen with the right equipment to prepare nutritious meals for your family. Time spent in the lost art of traditional food preparation is absolutely essential for you and especially your children to avoid the plague of degenerative illness that is sweeping across our modern culture.

You can be very encouraged that traditional cooking need not be a mind numbing chore, however! Modern equipment makes all the difference but it is important to make wise choices which can sometimes be difficult with the dazzling array of gadgets available.

I have been cooking meals for my family from scratch for over 10 years and have spent only a few hundred dollars during that entire time on equipment. Considering that I didn’t have much to start with as I rarely cooked before my children were born, that’s saying a lot!

So which appliances can be considered essential and which optional or even undesirable in your kitchen?

COOKWARE

Let’s start with cookware. Good quality cookware is a very wise investment and the most important use of your financial resources when prioritizing kitchen equipment.

You simply must get rid of any aluminum and nonstick cookware even if aimed at the gourmet market and made from high end materials. Aluminum dissolves when acidic or salty foods are cooked in it and many researchers feel that intake of aluminum is linked to a number of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

Nonstick cookware also poses a danger to your health. The chemical PFOA is used in the production of nonstick coatings and this carcinogen can get into your food and pollute the air in your home. PFOA has been linked with birth defects, cancer, and abnormal changes to vital organs.

Instead of nonstick pans, you can use a well-seasoned cast iron pan instead.

Glass, enamel, ceramic, stainless steel and titanium are all suitable materials for general purpose cookware. If you cook acidic foods frequently or suffer from heavy metal toxicity, stainless steel may not be the best choice as nickel and other alloys that are bound with iron in the making of stainless steel have been found to leech into food in small amounts.

BAKEWARE

Bakeware is another essential tool in the kitchen of an established cook. Please note, however, that aluminum bakeware does not necessarily need to be thrown out. Lining aluminum cookie sheets with parchment paper before baking protects the food from contact with the aluminum and is a good stopgap if funds for kitchen equipment are tight.

The same goes for aluminum muffin tins which can be lined with paper baking cups.

If you are in the beginning stages of putting your kitchen together, be sure to invest in stainless steel pans and cookie sheets as they really do not cost much more than aluminum pans.

When buying bread pans new, stoneware or glass are both excellent choices. Stoneware is also good for muffin tins.

STOCKPOT

A good quality stockpot made of stainless steel or enamel is a very important item to have in your kitchen. In my kitchen, I have 3 sizes, an 8 quart, a 12 quart, and a 16 quart. I use at least one of these stockpots on a weekly basis, usually making large batches of homemade broths and soups, portions of which can be frozen for fast meals at a later date.

GLASS OR ENAMEL CASSEROLES

Casserole dishes made of glass or enamel in a variety of sizes make one-dish meals an easy and nontoxic experience. I personally prefer glass dishes with lids so that leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in the same dish they were cooked in.

CUTTING BOARDS/KNIVES

Good quality knives are an obvious necessity for the person who prepares homemade meals. Serrated knives are best for cutting bread and vegetables while tempered steel knives are optimal for cutting meat. A large chopping knife is a helpful tool as well.

Cutting boards are best made of wood, which is far less likely to harbor pathogenic bacteria than ones made of plastic. Bamboo is my favorite wood for this purpose as it is a sustainable natural resource.

FOOD PROCESSORS

Food processors can be an expensive investment but there is no need to spend a fortune.

In my own kitchen, I have my Mother’s old 1950’s glass blender which still works beautifully, a small Cuisinart food processor that cost about $30 and a handheld blender.

These 3 items perform all the tasks that I require, from grinding nuts and chopping vegetables to blending smoothies.Larger and more expensive food processors are helpful, but certainly not a necessity!

FOOD/BEVERAGE CONTAINERS

Moving on to food storage containers, be aware that plastic is not the best option. Glass mason jars of various sizes are very important to have on hand for lactofermenting fruits and vegetables and for cultured dairy products that you make at home. I myself use pint, quart, and half gallon sized mason jars with regularity.

I also use small glass pyrex bowls for storage of leftovers and for lunchboxes.

Limiting the use of plastic containers in your home is wise, but large plastic jugs do seem to be best for freezing homemade stock and soups. Just be sure never to put plastic containers in the dishwasher as overly hot water breaks down the integrity of the plastic which risks leeching of contaminants into food.

Also for this reason, stock should be put into the plastic jugs after it has cooled.

Always hand wash plastic containers in warm water with a mild dishsoap.

OPTIONAL EQUIPMENT

As you gain traditional cooking experience, you may choose to add a grain grinder, an ice cream maker, or a dehydrator to your collection of kitchen equipment.

All of these appliances are optional. I myself do not have a dehydrator, preferring instead to use the convenience and size of a warm oven to dry my nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains.

I do use an ice cream maker and find this particular appliance of tremendous benefit to my family, as homemade ice cream made with grassfed cream is such a superior snack to store ice cream, even high end brands like Haagen Dazs.

Grain grinders are very helpful once you begin learning how to traditionally prepare grain based foods With a grain grinder, you can grind the flour just before you need it, ensuring that it is always fresh.

AVOID THE MICROWAVE

While popular, the microwave is not a desirable appliance to use in preparing healthy meals for your family. The small amount of research on microwaved foods is not favorable and indications are that abnormal changes to vitamin content and availability occurs when food is microwaved. The blood profiles of those who consume microwaved food is similar to the blood profiles of people in the early stages of cancer.

Microwaving milk is especially dangerous as it alters the amino acids in a manner that can be toxic to the liver and nervous system.

It is best to resist using a microwave for any culinary purpose. However, there is no need to remove it from your kitchen. It does serve as an excellent, airtight cupboard for storing birthday cakes and other freshly made baked goods.

ENDING SEGMENT

As you can see, there is no need to break the bank when setting up your kitchen for traditional cooking.

The minimum to get started is really just a high-quality saucepan and frying pan, some cutting knives and cutting boards.

The most important thing is to not let yourself get bogged down in decisions about appliances and rather just get started cooking!

A JOURNEY BACK TO THE KITCHEN VIDEO
By Sarah Pope

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Read more information on the dangers of non-stick aluminum cookware: Non Stick Ceramic Cookware versus Non Stick Teflon

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Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

(close up) Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladAutumn gives way to cold days and nights. Just about all colors in nature have faded and plant life has gone dormant. But colors of nature are always at work, and they can be found in the foods we consume through the winter months.

Like Belgian endive, which peaks in late November and is generally available through early spring. Also available year round, are Brussels sprouts, which normally peak in the fall to early winter.

Through the winter we can obtain artichoke, bok choy, snow peas, and water cress. Of course most of that produce is green in color.

If you want to see color then feast your eyes on the red beets  as well as green and red apples, including green and red pears.

Fall winter produceThere is also oranges, blood oranges with its sweet red colored flesh, red pomegranates, and yellowish parsnips.

Not to forget cream skinned butternut squash with a deep orange hue colored flesh, and that brings us to our feature recipe: Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad.

Here at Splendid recipes and More we keep the health conscience in mind who not only wish to eat healthy, but also wish to know the nutrient value of the food they consume.

Butternut squash has folate which helps to build a strong heart and prevent a heart attack. The function of folate is to work against compounds that compromise the structure of the blood vessels. A correlation between consuming foods that contain folate and reduced incidences of colon cancer.

Researchers have found that a vitamin A deficiency, caused by A carcinogen in cigarette smoke, contributes to a vitamin-A deficiency, which leads to the debilitating disease of emphysema. Any winter squash including butternut squash, are rich in vitamin-A, which research suggests  could protect against emphysema.

It would be ideal to stop smoking, a diet rich in vitamin A and beta-cryptoxanthin may protect lung health if a person choose not to quit or is daily exposed to cigarette smoke.

Now for the recipe, and here is what you will need.

1 lb. chicken breast, fat trimmed

1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, sliced 2 to 3 inches long by ½ inch wide

8 cups baby spinach, washed

2/3 cup fresh goat cheese

½ cup pecan pieces

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Himalayan salt

Black pepper

Garlic powder

Carrot and Ginger Dressing

seasoned roasted chicken breast - Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

Arrange chicken breasts onto a glass baking dish, and sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder according to taste. Place into a 350 degree oven and roast 10 minutes. Turn breast over and reapply salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and roast another 10 minutes. Check internal temperature of meat, if it is at least 160 degrees remove meat and set aside.

roasted butternut squash -  Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladPrepare butternut squash and place into a large bowl, but only after spooning in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in oven on 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes or just until squash is baked but not soft. Remove from oven and set aside.

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Squash with Spinach and Goat Cheese SaladUsing four dinner plates, plate each with 2 cups of spinach.

Top with sliced chicken breast (about 4 to 5 slices) and 5 to 6 slices of roasted squash.

Top with pecans, and cheese, then pour on the Carrot and Ginger dressing (purchased at Whole foods Market). Serve and enjoy!

Salad can be eaten warm or cold, and served with fresh sourdough bread and real butter.

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Peach Upside Down Cake

Peach Upside Down Cake with Butter and Brown Sugar Glaze

Here’s a Peach Upside Down Cake that is just peachy. This dessert is made with a brown sugar glaze. It’s a natural syrup with no added chemicals and it’s not like the ordinary glaze of just water, powdered sugar and a little milk.

Cutting the cake into six (6) servings would make it 49.5 grams of Carb, 18.75 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein. If you used raw sugar and whole wheat flour, both with their fiber intake, you could add 3 grams more of protein to this dessert.

If you view dessert like that, it isn’t so bad. It is true there are sugars in the recipe. But you can always change out processed foods for more natural foods that are minimally processed, therefore making a recipe closer to more natural and still enjoy dessert.

Peaches provide about 18 mg phytosterols, which are plant-based nutrients, and they lower your cholesterol levels. Knowing this about peaches also can make the dessert more Peachesappealing. Don’t you agree?

But wait there’s more. A large peach has niacin, or vitamin B-3, that helps with energy metabolism in your body.

Peaches are high in vitamin-C, which we all know is an antioxidant and an essential nutrient for a healthy immune system and strong joints. Peaches also have vitamin-A, an essential nutrient for healthy vision.

Peaches can also help regulate your blood pressure. The fruit provides about 332 mg potassium each, and they are sodium-free.

A high-sodium, low-potassium diet may cause high blood pressure and an increased risk for stroke and kidney disease, and most of us need to increase potassium and decrease sodium. Most all of the fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans are high-potassium, low-sodium foods.

Now for our featured dessert: Peach Upside Down Cake, and here is what you will need:

ingredients for Peach Upside Down CakeBrown-Sugar Glaze

¼ cup butter, softened

½ cup packed brown sugar

2 cups sliced, pitted and peeled peaches

Cake Ingredients 

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

1 ¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

½ cup butter, softened

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F

Line a 9-inch spring-form pan with parchment paper and set aside.

melting butter, adding brown sugar and spreading on bottom of spring form panGrab the room temperature butter and melt in a small sauce pan over medium heat and then add the brown sugar and stir until sugar is completely moistened and mix well with the butter. Next spread sugar mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared spring-form pan.

arranging peaches in uniform over brown sugar mixtureLine peaches in a circular pattern on the bottom of the spring form pan until it is filled with the peaches (as shown in image). Set aside.

pour batter over peaches and spreadIn a food processor, combine the ½ cup of butter and ¾ cup of sugar and process till creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and process until combined.  Alternately add the flour mixture and milk to butter mixture, process on -mix- speed after each addition just until combined.

Pour the batter over the peaches and spread evenly over the peaches using the back of a large spoon or flexible spatula.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.

Peach Upside Down Cake with Butter and Brown Sugar GlazeLoosen cake first by running a knife around sides and loosen ring and lift off. Grabbing edge of parchment paper, carefully pull cake to a serving platter. Cool for another 10 to 15 minutes.

slice of Peach upside Down Cake with Butter and Brown Sugar GlazePlate and serve.

 

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Beat the Summer Heat with Crock Pot Cooking

Beat the Summer Heat with Crock Pot Cooking

As the weather outside warms up, the kitchen can be a terrible place to be. There are many things you can do however, when it comes to cooking a nice homemade meal that doesn’t require traditional stove top or oven cooking.

Learn to utilize some of the lesser heat producing equipment in your kitchen, such as the crock pot, in order to truly beat the summer heat and keep your cool while preparing a nice hot meal for friends and family.

How does crock pot cooking really help beat the heat? Simply put, the crock pot in and of itself puts off far less heat when cooking than an oven or stove top. This is the first and possibly the best reason to utilize the crock pot in your summer meal planning.

You should also consider the fact that using a crock pot to cook with will not heat the house and therefore preventing your air conditioning (or other cooling methods) from working overtime in order to compensate for the additional heat that other cooking methods introduce.

This makes crock pot cooking a win-win situation as the costs involved in operating a crock pot are far less than the costs involved in operating a stove or oven in general. Whether electric or gas, your stove and oven are often serious energy hogs. Add to that the fact that you are not raising the temperature in your home by traditional means of cooking and you are using even less electricity.

Unfortunately, the general consensus has been that crock pots are meant for comfort foods and hearty winter meals. The truth is that the crock pot should be one of your best loved and most often utilized cooking methods if you can manage it.

When it comes to cooking with a crock pot, the options are almost limitless. Almost anything that can be baked can be made in the crock pot. That includes many wonderful, enticing meals and treats.

Benefits of Crock Pot Cooking

In addition to the cost benefits mentioned above when it comes to crock pot cooking there are many other benefits that are well worth mentioning.

First of all, the bulk of the work involved in crock pot cooking takes place early in the day when you are refreshed rather than at the end of a hectic work or play day. This means that you are less likely to forget an ingredient or make other mistakes that often occur as we hurry to prepare a dinner when we are exhausted from the activities of our day.

Second, many great crock pot recipes include the vegetables that insure we are getting the nutrients we need. So often, when preparing a meal at the last minute, we may open a can of vegetables (in most cases canned vegetables have little to no nutritional value) in favor of expedience. Crock pot cooking in many instances is a meal in one dish.

Another great reason to use a crock pot for your summertime cooking is the ease of clean up. Unlike pots and pans, most crock pot meals are made in one dish. This means that there will not be mountains of dishes to be either hand washed or loaded into the dishwasher afterwards.

You can spend less time cleaning just as you spent less time slaving over a hot stove. Once cleanup is complete you can get back to enjoying the sun set, chasing the lightening bugs with your little ones, or waiting for the first star.

While there will never be a one size fits all best cooking method, crock pot cooking comes very close. If you have a crock pot collecting dust somewhere in the back of your pantry it is time to get it out, dust if off, and dig up some great summertime crock pot cooking recipes.

Here’s a great article we posted on the safety of crock pot cooking: Slow Cooking, Is it Safe?

 

Header Image credit: Restore Community Center

 

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Baked Spinach Stuffed Tilapia

Baked Spinach Stuffed Tilapia

Tilapia are mainly freshwater fish found in shallow streams, ponds, rivers and lakes. Tilapia were one of the three main types of fish caught in Biblical times from the Sea of Galilee.

Tilapia have very low levels of mercury,as they are fast-growing, lean and short-lived, with a primarily vegetarian diet, so do not accumulate mercury found in prey. Tilapia are low in saturated fat, calories, carbohydrates and sodium, and are a good protein source. They also contain vitamin B-12 and trace minerals such as phosphorus, niacin, selenium, and potassium.

Black pepper adds more than just flavor, it is also good for digestion. Spinach is a cruciferous vegetable, and 4 servings a week of this class of vegetable helps ward off cancer causing cells.

As a side note, this recipe is great nutritional support for those who suffer with Schizophrenia (Read More Here: Nutritional Hope for Schizophrenic Patients).

Here is what you will need for our featured recipe:

8 oz. spinach leaves, trimmed

4 oz. Feta cheese

1 ½ lbs.Tilapia fillets, cut 6 ways

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

6 tbsp. butter, melted

Heat oven to 400 degrees

Cook spinach in large saucepan on low heat until just wilted. Drain and cool. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach; chop finely. Combine spinach and feta in medium bowl.

Cut lengthwise pocket down 1 side of each cut Tilapia, being careful not to cut through. Pack 1/3 cup spinach mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Baked Spinach Stuffed TilapiaBake in heated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until done. Plate and serve with your favorite side dish, such as we have here with a Bacon Cornbread or Baked Parmesan Potato.

Source of information about Tilapia: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

 

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Beyond Skillets 4 Must Have Cast Iron Cookware Pieces

Beyond Skillets 4 Must Have Cast Iron Cookware Pieces

Cast iron skillets are so easy love. Whether inherited from a beloved grandmother, found at a bustling flea market, or purchased brand new, the origin of these durable and dependable skillets doesn’t really matter. Once one makes its way into your home, it will soon become a treasured kitchen staple.

Fortunately, the beauty of cast iron doesn’t end there. In fact, there are many affordable cast iron pieces available that are just as wonderful as your favorite skillet.

Here are four other great cast iron cookware pieces:

1. Dutch Oven – No kitchen is complete without a cast iron Dutch oven. There are many choices available, especially now with the increasing popularity of the enamel finishes. Although the colorful designer styles can be pricey, you can still find the simple ‘campfire’ or ‘raw’ varieties of cast iron at a very reasonable price.

Both the designer and raw styles work extremely well – after all, the quality is in the cast iron, not the color!

When you shop, choose a Dutch oven that is heavy, with sturdy handles, and a tight-fitting cast iron or heavy glass lid. A good cast iron Dutch oven can be used on top of the stove to make soups and stews or it can be used in the oven to make roasts and casseroles. You can even take a “raw” version on your next camping trip to whip up some delicious meals over your campfire.

Aside from your cast iron skillet, your Dutch oven will be among your most often used cookware pieces.

2. Grill/Griddle Combo – Although you may long for a stove with a built-in grill/griddle combination, it may not be a realistic option in the near future. However, you may be surprised to discover how easy and fun it is to cook with a cast iron version. Just heat up your cast iron griddle and you will feel like a short-order cook in no time!

Cast iron is so versatile, you’ll soon be frying up crispy bacon, golden brown pancakes, and perfectly done eggs without having to wash several pans or mess around with a bunch of specialty appliances. Plus, the grill side makes those nice grill marks that make everything you cook look so wonderful. For some reason, food that looks good seems to taste better, too.

3. Muffin and Loaf Pans – The best part of making cornbread in a cast iron skillet is the golden crust that forms around the outside of the pan. When you use cast iron muffin or loaf pans, you’ll end up with even more of that golden crusty goodness.

In addition, you can use cast iron muffin pans for all sorts of muffins and other individual serving size dishes, plus switching to cast iron loaf pans for bread results in consistently golden brown crusts with no scorched bottoms.

4. Fajita Serving Platters – To re-create that restaurant-style sizzle when your fajita or steak comes to the table, you can’t beat individual cast iron serving platters. Just heat the platters in a hot oven, and when your meal is ready to serve, carefully pull the platters from the oven and plate them up for that mouth-watering sizzle everyone loves.

You can also find sizzle platters with heat-resistant carriers so all you have to worry about is making enough food so you don’t run out when everyone asks for more!

Besides the fun restaurant-quality presentation you can achieve with these individual serving platters, they offer the added bonus of keeping your food warmer longer. This is a great idea when you’re cooking and serving outdoors. No more chilled plates on the picnic table, which makes sizzle platters both fun and practical.

A good set of cast iron skillets is a great starting point for every kitchen. But, once you get your basic skillets seasoned just right, isn’t it time to expand your horizons?

These four versatile pieces will open up a whole new world of cast iron cooking in no time. From roasts to soups to breads to the lazy weekend morning breakfast extravaganza, cast iron cookware does it all – and does it deliciously!

 

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How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware

Over time, cast iron cookware develops a thin protective coating known as “seasoning” from the natural fats and oils associated with the cooking process. This coating fills in all the nooks and crannies inherent in the pan metal to create a smooth, uniform surface.

This seasoning is what gives cast iron cookware its wonderful non-stick quality.

Today, most new cast iron cookware comes with this protective coating or “seasoning” already on them. If the package has “pre-seasoned” printed on it, your new pan should be ready for use because the manufacturer has already completed the initial seasoning process for you.

When you buy a brand new pre-seasoned cast iron skillet, all you need to do is rinse it out in hot water and dry completely by placing on your cooktop over medium-high heat. Make sure the entire surface is dry before putting away because cast iron can and will rust if water is left sitting on its surface.

After cooking with your new cast iron skillet, wash it by hand in hot water right away. Avoid putting your skillet in the dishwasher or soaking it in water overnight due to the potential for rust.

Instead, once the pan cools to the touch, rinse it under hot water while using a dishcloth or soft-bristled nylon brush to remove cooked-on particles. Also avoid using any harsh soaps, detergents, or metal scouring pads and scrapers as these items can damage or remove the seasoning.

How to Re-Season Your Cast Iron Skillet

If your seasoned cast iron cookware loses its sheen for whatever reason, you may need to re-season it to get it back into tip-top shape.

If you search online for how to re-season a cast iron skillet, you may be a bit overwhelmed by all the different points of view out there regarding the best methods and types of oil to use.

How to Care for Your Cast Iron Cookware using flaxseed oilFor example, there is a lot of debate about what oil to use due to the different smoke points associated with each type of oil and the release of unhealthy free radicals caused by using oils with too-low smoke points. As a result, flaxseed oil is often suggested as an ideal oil to use due to its high smoke point.

According to Lodge, a leading manufacturer of cast iron cookware, the proper way to re-season their products is to start by preheating your oven to 350 – 400˚.

While it is heating, wash the pan with hot, soapy water and a stiff brush. (It’s okay to use harsher soap and a stiff brush for this because you’re not trying to protect the original seasoning at this point).

Once clean, rinse and dry completely before applying a very thin coat of melted solid vegetable shortening or other cooking oil of your choice. Place the pan upside down on the upper rack of your preheated oven, with a metal cooking sheet under it to catch any drips.

Leave pan in hot oven for at least an hour. Turn oven off and allow the skillet to cool completely while still inside the oven. Remove pan from oven and if the coating isn’t as consistent as you’d like, repeat this process until the desired sheen is achieved.

Following these easy tips on how to care for your cast iron cookware will help keep your pieces in great shape. A minimal investment of time and effort on your part will yield delicious meals for you and your family for years to come.

 

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5 Reasons to Love Your Cast Iron Cookware

Lodge Cast Iron 5 Piece SetOnce you start cooking with cast iron, odds are you’ll end up loving it. For starters, it’s a true culinary work horse able to go from cooktop to oven to outdoor grill to blazing campfire with ease. No matter what’s on the menu, you know it’s going look and taste better when you use your favorite cast iron cookware.

Here are 5 Reasons to Love Your Cast Iron Cookware:

1. Versatile: Cast iron cookware can be used in many different ways: on top of the stove, in the oven, under the broiler, on the grill, or even over an open campfire. This versatility saves you both time and money because you don’t have to buy or wash a bunch of extra pots and pans.

For example, to make a big pot roast in a single pan, pull out your cast iron Dutch oven to brown the meat, and then add the remaining ingredients before placing in the oven to cook.

Who needs a big roasting pan? Just take out your largest cast iron skillet and roast a whole chicken in it. You can also sear steaks on top of the stove and then put it them in the oven to finish cooking without needing to dirty another dish.

2. Economical: A basic piece of cast iron cookware is usually a steal, whether you buy it new or at a yard sale. The simplest form, called ‘raw’ cast iron (the black color), is what you might envision on a campfire. There are also more colorful enameled varieties, but they tend to cost a lot more. Fortunately, some well-known lines of old-fashioned cast iron cookware have come out with their own enameled versions that rivals the designer labels.

For the most part, if you want a good, solid piece of cookware without spending a lot of money, cast iron is the right place to start.

3. Durable: This old-fashioned cookware is nearly indestructible. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t damage the seasoned finish, but even if you do – it can be fixed in most cases. First, try cooking some bacon or other fatty food in it. If that doesn’t give the results you want, you can always re-season the pan to restore the finish to its previous luster.

Know you know why cast iron cookware is handed down for generations – it lasts forever!

4. Practical: Have you ever started cooking a dish on your cooktop only to realize you need to pop it under the broiler to finish it?

If you have ever had to transfer food from one piece of cookware to another just to complete a recipe, you know what a pain that can be. If you are using a regular skillet, you need to worry about whether or not the handle will melt or if the whole thing will crack from the heat.

Unlike regular pots and pans or fancy specialty cookware, cast iron is no-nonsense, which means you don’t have to think about anything but your recipe and gathering everyone around the table.

5. Sentimental: Cast iron has been a mainstay in kitchens for generations. As a result, cast iron is often associated with warm, happy memories of delicious meals shared with close family and friends.

Perhaps you have fond memories from your childhood of delicious Sunday breakfasts at grandma’s house or of your mom’s favorite comfort foods hot from the oven. Or maybe you had the chance to hang a cast iron pot over an open fire before enjoying a hot bowl of chili or stew.

Whatever your personal memories of cast iron may be, chances are your own frequently used pieces will become a treasured part of your family’s history, which is truly something to love.

Be sure to come back for another recipe made in a cast iron pot!!

Image credit: Chefs…The Best Kitchens start Here

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Double Chocolate Cupcakes over Raspberry Sauce Topped with Almond Mocha Whipped Cream

Double Chocolate Cupcakes over Raspberry Sauce Topped with Almond Mocha Whipped Cream

Cupcakes

1 18.25-ounce box devil’s food cake mix

1 2.5-ounce jar baby food pureed prunes

1 cup strong coffee

3 large egg whites (see video below, how to separate egg whites from yolks)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

Sauce

2 12-ounce packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca or arrowroot starch

Topping

2 teaspoons instant espresso

1 cup heavy cream

½ cup powdered sugar

2/3 cup sliced almonds, dry-roasted

Preheat the oven to 325°F

Place a medium metal mixing bowl with beaters into freezer.

Lightly spray two 12-cup muffin pans with an olive oil spray

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cupcake ingredients. Pour two tablespoons each per cupcake well in prepared muffin pan. Bake in oven 21 minutes or until center of cupcakes are done.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, stir together the raspberries, sugar, and starch until the starch is dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, or until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes.

Double Chocolate Cupcakes over Raspberry Sauce Topped with Almond Mocha Whipped Cream with CoffeeRemove the metal mixing bowl and beaters from the freezer. Attach the beaters to the hand mixer and pour the cold heavy cream into the cold mixing bowl. Beat on high until cream just starts to thicken. Stop beating and add powdered sugar and instant powdered espresso. Begin beating again until the add ingredients are mixed in well and the cream begins to form stiff peaks. Place whipped cream into refrigerator until ready to use.

For each serving, spread 2 tablespoon raspberry sauce on a dessert plate, top with a cupcake, spoon 2 tablespoons of whipped topping mixture over the cupcake, and sprinkle with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of sliced almonds.

Check out more Desserts by Splendid Recipes and More

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4 Commonly Asked Questions About Cast Iron Cookware

Cast Iron Cookware

Whether you’re new to cast iron cooking or have been using your favorite pieces for years, chances are you may have a few questions about how to use and care for your cast iron.

Here are four common questions about cast iron cookware:

1. Question: I bought a new cast iron skillet and it says it’s “pre-seasoned” and “ready to use.” Is it really? I’ve heard so much about the proper seasoning of cast iron, this
just doesn’t seem right.

Answer: This is a tricky question two-part question which actually can be answered both “yes” and “no.”

Yes, you can cook in new “pre-seasoned” cast iron cookware without going through any seasoning process. However, it is not truly “ready to use.”

You should still rinse your new cast iron piece in hot water to remove any of the dust or dirt it picked up on the store shelf. Then, dry it completely by heating over a burner set to medium-high heat for about one minute. Once it is completely dry, allow your pan to cool before lightly coating with a good food-quality oil or fat with a high smoke point. Adding a light coat of oil after each use will help build up an even better patina on your pan surface over time.

2. Question: I had a really nice seasoning on my cast iron skillet, but now it seems to be peeling and chipping. What happened?

Answer: There are a few things that can cause this. The most common causes are washing your skillet with a harsh soap or letting it soak overnight in the sink. Both of these actions can soften the finish and cause it to peel off or disintegrate.

The recommended method for washing your cast iron is to give it a quick rinse in hot water, wipe with a paper towel, and dry thoroughly on a hot burner. This will maintain the cast iron patina.

Cooking highly acidic foods or using metal cooking utensils can also damage the patina on your cast iron pieces. For instance, if you are making something with a lot of tomatoes, you may see some distress or dulling on the finish. To combat the reaction that acidic foods have on the finish, be sure to cook other types of food in the same pan often.

Fortunately, if the patina is very well established, a little acid isn’t going to hurt it. It’s really in those first stages that you might have some pitting and softening. Just watch it closely and avoid acidic foods as much as possible in newly seasoned cookware.

3. Question: I recently pulled out my grandmother’s old cast iron skillet and noticed that rust had formed where the pots were stacked together. Is it ruined?

Answer: No, definitely not. While it can be discouraging to find rust on your favorite pieces of cast iron, it is not impossible to remove.

There are a lot of remedies out there, but the most natural methods for rust removal are often the best and safest. Simply sprinkle salt onto the area, cut a lemon in half, and rub the lemon over the salt. Let the cast iron sit out to dry, then rinse. Repeat the process to remove any remaining spots of rust.

The nice thing about this method is you are not going to hurt the pan, and you can repeat it as often as necessary. Be wary of any suggestions that a spray-on oven cleaner is the only remedy. A little salt and lemon will remove the rust without severely stripping whatever patina you have already built up.

4. Question: I really want to wash my cast iron cookware, but I keep hearing people say I should just wipe it out to keep the finish nice. Isn’t that just asking for trouble with germs?

Answer: In a perfect world, soap would never touch your cast iron cookware. However, there are times when a little mild dish soap on a sponge is needed. The key is to not overdo it with harsh detergents or abrasive surfaces so you don’t damage the patina.

If you’re worried about germs, soap and water isn’t the only solution. Heat your cast iron over high heat and add some oil to the pan. Allow the oil to heat to just below the smoke point. Then, remove from the heat, let cool and wipe with a paper towel. No germs will survive through this process.

If you still want a water bath, add water to the cookware and bring it to a boil, then pour it out, and dry on a hot burner, wiping the cookware clean. If you absolutely must use soap, then do so sparingly. Wipe the cookware with a sponge (never a scrubber) and a dab of dish soap. Then, rinse and dry thoroughly. Be sure to brush on some oil or grease after each cleaning, regardless of what method you use.

Keep in mind, there are different methods to care for your cast iron cookware depending on the types of foods you cook in them. For example, if you cook a lot of chili or other acidic food, you may have to season your cast iron more often. If you use a skillet just to fry eggs and bacon, you can probably just wipe it out with a papertowel and you’ll be good to go.

With a little practice, you’ll know exactly what your cast iron needs to perform perfectly every time.

Come back later  and we will show you how to oven roast a whole chicken using a 10.25 inch cast iron skillet.


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