Recipes

Cast Iron Pan Maintenance

Back in March I did a post about our Kitchen Must-Haves and our number one item is the cast iron fry pan.  I figured it was time to go over how Hubby got this thing to where it is today.

Seasoning is probably the most important thing when it comes to these types of pans.  It’s the seasoning process that gets them to be nonstick and the cleaning that keeps them that way.

Seasoning:

New or old this is the process that we (and by we, I mean Hubby) took.  Getting a cast iron pan to become come nonstick takes a lot of love, sweat and tears (of joy when it’s finally done)!

Start with a pan that has a nice smooth cooking surface. Some new pans have a textured surface and these are no good! The best place to find a smooth cast iron pan is at an antique store, or maybe online?


Start with a wet and soapy wire pad and scrub the crap out of the pan. I mean it! Really giver on that thing.  Hubby probably worked on it for more than an hour.  He got it down to where most of the black residue was gone and it had a nice silver colour again. Heat up the pan a bit to ensure its totally dry before continuing! Since we’re dealing with iron, its going to start rusting really fast once its dry… Gotta get through one seasoning cycle before its safe to leave alone.

Using flax seed oil (because of its high smoke point) give the pan a super thin coat all over the cooking surface and sides. Try to wipe out the oil with a paper towel even to make it extra thin. Place it upside down in the oven and turn the temperature to 425f.  Leave it in there for 2 hours, turn off the oven and just leave the pan in there to cool off.  Repeat this oiling/baking at least four times, then its ready to use!

The more you use the pan with care, the better its seasoning will become.

Cleaning:

To keep the seasoning perfect do not, I repeat, do not use soap. Ever.  Sounds gross, I know, but using soap on seasoned cast iron is a big (and I mean big) no no! It will take away your hard-earned seasoning.

If you are the type of person that lets dishes soak then I’m sorry but cast iron isn’t for you. Having water sit in the pan can make it rust. Eww.

To clean the pan after use, just wait until the pan has cooled down  then rise with water and wipe with a paper towel.
If food is burned-on, then you’ll need to get that off.  We, again Hubby (he’s the dish man), uses our super thin spatula to scrape anything off of it.  I’ve read that you can use coarse salt too and for those of you that are grossed out by not using soap… that is your answer.  The point is you need to preserve the nonstick surface.  Then you must dry the pan thoroughly!  Hubby puts our pan back on the stove for a few minutes on low. Lightly oil the pan and you’re all done!
Other Things to Note:

Cast iron pans are probably the most versatile thing in your kitchen, just don’t boil water in it… It can wear down your seasoning
Don’t turn up the stove too high or the seasoning will burn. We don’t turn our stove past 4 (out of 10) ever
Always heat up the pan before using it, it will hold the heat longer so you don’t need a high heat
The handle gets hot!  You’ll need an oven mitt.  We’ve had ours for 6 years and I still do this…so know that you won’t be loan when you do touch it
Use paper towel when drying it.  The oil will just get over and ruin your nice dish towels
When you cook with cast iron, the food absorbs some of the iron which is healthy for you!

This might all sound daunting, but it really is easy once you get to know your pan. It will become the pride of your kitchen in no time!
Uptown Baby

Uptown Baby – The First 6 months

Me and my little man! May 23, 2014 (1 month old)

I can’t believe Evan is six months!  It’s crazy!  He surprised us early and has been a joy ever since. He has grown so much.  He came home from the hospital at 5lb 5oz and he is now 20lb 5oz and wears 9 to 12 month clothing!  He’s a giant.  I’m not shocked because Dan was a big baby too.  I’m pretty dam proud of myself!  My body made this little man and is feeding him to date!!

Babies are no joke.  They are hard work!  Here are some of my personal tips that worked for me during the first 6 months:

Eating while feed: Food needs to be eaten from a bowl with a spoon while feeding.  For the first three months, Evan was a very slow eater.  I would be sitting feeding him for at least 45-60 minutes every 2-3 hours.  So the best thing for me was to eat either finger foods (like veggies and cheese) or from a bowl.

Hot drinks: Drink all hot things out of a thermos – don’t want to spill anything on the baby!

Bonding: Bond with your baby during the day. Night feeds are strictly business. I used Netflix and Pinterest to stay awake.  Then during the day, we were bonding pros!  
Bathroom breaks: Pee before feeding.  Nothing worse than being in the middle of a feed and feeling like you are going to wet yourself. 


Drink water:
 Lots of it and then have a little more – before, after and during every feeding.

Clothing: Wear clothes that you can sleep in but still look fine when people come over to visit.  I kept to leggings, hoodies and breastfeeding tops.

Find a community of other mothers!  This has been so great for me and Evan.  We have met an amazing group of moms and babies.  We get out of the house almost everyday and are socializing with lots of other babies and moms.  We also message each other often when we are having an issue or a successful nap!  I’m so happy to have met with mamas and their babies.

Do a load of wash everyday: Even if it takes all day because you have zero memory because you are so tried, it’s ok!  No one will judge you, they will probably think you are amazing and have it all together!  Staying on top of it is so important, or else it will take over!  I have to thank my Mom for this one.  She got us off on the right foot when she was here for the first two weeks. I can’t thank her enough.  Thanks Mom!!

Cooking: When it comes to cooking, try and make way more food than you need.  So you’ll have lots of leftovers to freeze.  If you have the energy to cook you may as well take advantage of it, right? This includes grains as well. We are big rice and barely eaters, so I always make 3 times more.  This way the days I don’t feel like cooking it just a matter of defrost, reheat and eat.

Also, try and take advantage of your oven settings. My oven has a delayed start and cook time feature (who knew!). So on the off chance that Evan is napping longer than 30 minutes, I get dinner together and set up the oven for it to be all cooked by 5:30ish.

Build a good routine: Forget a schedule, go with a routine.  I’m not a professional but this is what works for us:  Do what will work for you and your baby!  I cannot express that enough.  We don’t have a set schedule at all.  Tried it and it didn’t work for us.  Evan’s nap times can go for 15 minutes to 2 hours.  So going with a routine is what works best for us.  Our routine is “Eat, Activity, Sleep” without paying attention to time. Sleeptime comes when Evan shows that he’s tired by an eye-rub or a yawn. This seems to work really well for us.  It does of course change from time to time and that’s ok because well… that’s life.  I’m not a super schedule person anyway and this is probably why a routine works for us.

Daycare: It is never too early to start planning on daycare (tear!).  Locally, we have a single online wait-list for all daycare centres.  Sounds like a good idea but really its just another step in the process. Daycares seem to have their own wait list anyway.  I think it’s too new still for it to be working the way people want it too.  Either way, we started looking into care when he was 4 months (this is in addition to going on these wait list when I was just 10 weeks pregers – crazy!  I know).  So we’ll see what happens.

Feel free to add anything in the comments section of things that worked for you!!

Rock on!  Us leaving the NICU – May 1, 2014 (9 days old)
One of his preemie sleepers vs. what he wore the other night (a 9 month sleeper)
One of my favourites!  One month vs. six months (he was sitting and then fell over into this position so I went with it) 

Recipes

Turkey Pie

What a great Thanksgiving weekend!  We stayed local because my SIL is pregers with her third baby and she is due any day now.  It ended up being an amazing family filled weekend with lots of food as well.

I cooked two dinners; 1) turkey for five people and 2) roast beef for 14 people.  My mom walked me through the turkey process and I rocked the beef all by myself!  I believe in lists and that is what kept me cool in the kitchen.  On Sunday, I planned for dinner at 6 and we were sitting down at 5:45!  On Monday, I planned for dinner at 5 and we were eating by 5:07.

So now what!  We have all this food and only two people to eat it.  Can you say Turkey Pie!?!?  It’s kind of like a chicken pot pie but with all the leftovers from the turkey dinner (including the cranberries).

Ingredient

Turkey Dinner leftovers (my leftovers included: turkey, mash potatoes, sweet potatoes, gravy, cranberries and dressing/stuffing)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen green beans
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups chicken stock (or turkey stock if you happen to have made some)
2 pie crust for each pie you plan on making

Directions

Mix the leftovers, frozen veggies and stock together.

I didn’t include a picture of the mixture because… well it doesn’t look that good but it taste is delicious!

Place mixture into one pie crust and top pie with another pie crust.  Gently push the crust down and fold up the edges.

Pinch edge with fork and poke the top of the pie for venting.

I’m going to freeze my pies for eating at a later date.  So I have wrapped them in cling wrap, then tinfoil and placed the pies back into the boxes.

When cooking (fresh or frozen) here are the direction:

Preheat the oven to 425.  Brush a little milk on the top of the pie and bake for 10 minutes then lower the temperature to 325.  Bake for an addition 35 minutes or until the crust gets a lovely brown colour on it.

My leftovers made 4 pies!

Enjoy!

Recipes

Crockpot Sweet Potatoes

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone!  I’m a very luck girl and I’m getting to cook two (yep! two) dinners.  I haven’t had much experience with cooking a turkey so I’m just going to do that one night and the next night I’m planning on doing a big roast beef.  I’m only doing the turkey for five people so if it doesn’t turn out not a big deal.  I know the beef will be good so that’s why I’m doing it for the larger dinner of 14.

Last Christmas, I did a post on Crockpot Mash Potatoes and an old friend asked if I had a recipe for doing sweet potatoes this way.  At the time I didn’t but I do now!!  Please note: I do these potatoes over night because I find it easier.  Who doesn’t want food to cook over night!

I enjoy a sweet sweet potato so please feel free to adjust the sugar.  Here is the recipe and I’m hoping it will be enough for 10:

Ingredients

6 Sweet Potatoes (because that’s how many I had), peeled and chopped into slices
2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
3/4 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (I used coconut oil because I run out of butter)

Directions

Place the potato in the bottom of the crockpot.  Mix together the stock, vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin spice and sugar.  Then pour the mixture over the potatoes.  Place dollops of the butter (or coconut oil) on top of the potatoes.

Cook on low over night.  I did give it a stir before going to bed.

Some of the potatoes did go a little brown but once everything was stirred together it was fine.

What it looked like in the morning after a good stir

After they cooled down a little I gave them another good mix.  Can’t wait to eat them!

In Dan’s family, they top sweet potatoes with marshmallows and roasts the dish so feel free to try that.  I’m going to leave them this way as they are pretty sweet.  I also have a little pumpkin left over from making pies which I’m going to add to this.  I would rather add it to something then toss it out.

I’m excited that this worked!  Thank you old friend for the suggestion.

Enjoy!

Uptown Baby

Uptown Baby – Preemie Power

After this post, I’ll be all caught up!  Yeah!!  Thanks for hanging in while I got my head around being a busy pergo and a new mom.  I know that the posts from the last month or so have been out of date.  The great news is things should start to be a little more normal in the near future.

Without further adieu – Preemie Power!

We had no idea how long Evan would be in the NICU for – our midwife had said 48 hours and on the fist night the nurse say two weeks!  We ended up learning that it would be closer to two weeks.  The 48 hours was how long he would be on medication.  He had to get his breathing in check, be feeding on his own and pass a car seat test before heading home.

Honestly, I’m so thankful for our experience in the NICU.  The nursing staff was amazing.  He had the best care and did really well!  He was in the hospital for 9 days.

This poster hung right by the doors into the NICU and did it make me feel good each and every time I walked in.

Evan did great!  He was off his oxygen by day three and we were starting to feed him by day five.  Dan come down with a cold so I was going to the hospital on my own and managing all the family visit.  I never once had a negative thought as to what could have been.  That came later.  Like I did during my pregnancy I just stayed positive and pushed the negativity away.

I had to pump and that was hard work!  We so badly wanted him to get my milk and not formal that we gave the nurses every last drop.  I found, at the hospital, I was able to produce milk but at home it was a fight.  I’m thinking it was because I was away from him but I’m not sure.  Dan had taken a video of Evan sucking on his soother and that’s what finally worked for my milk to come in at home.

What a crazy start to parenting!  We learned so much when he was in the hospital and now looking back I see that time as so valuable to us and I will never forget it!