Thursday, June 16, 2011

911 for a charred pot

Before: a charred mess
of a chili pot

Maybe it's my approach to cooking.  For one thing, perhaps smoking hot isn't the best temperature for every food.  For another, when food is bubbling away, maybe it would help to peek under the lid once in awhile...maybe a little stir would help.  Whatever it is, I find myself trying to repair a mess of charred crust on the bottom of my pots now and then. If you have a beloved pot with charred food on the bottom don't despair,  this no-fail method will get your pot back on the cooking line fast.
After: ready for the next fire

  • Fill the ruined pot with water ... 3/4 full is a good start
  • Add a generous handful of baking soda
  • Cover and heat to boiling
  • Turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes
  • Use a heat-proof spatula to scrape the bottom while it simmers
  • Empty the mess into the sink and fill with HOT water
  • Scrub the remaining black crust with baking soda using a scratch-proof scrubbing pad (like the back of a blue sponge)
  • Rinse and repeat if necessary.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Broccoli for Jessica

Broccoli can be fun!  Well...maybe fun isn't exactly the right word, but it you work with this cancer fighting ninja, you can create a healthy side dish that doesn't suck.  Here's how:
  • Chop a head of broccoli into small pieces (less than an inch).
  • Coat them in olive oil. I use extra virgin and make sure they are.
  • Throw them in a smoking hot wok or frying pan.
  • Toss in a generous helping of salt and pepper.
  • Sautee for 3-4 minutes.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Real Deal: Seasoning Cast Iron Woks and Pans

Seasoning a cast iron wok
I've been singularly unimpressed by the advice on the web about seasoning cast iron pans and woks.  I guess you get what you pay for right?  Luckily enough, the good people at Cook's Illustrated  have taken matters into their capable hands in their "Summer Grilling" issue.  Adapting their technique for seasoning cast iron grills, here's the method that finally worked to give my cast iron wok a lovely indelible sheen.
  1. Heat the pan as hot as possible. You're aiming for smoking hot. 
  2. Dab a smidgen of cooking oil on a paper towel or rag.  Using tongs rub the oil on the hot cast iron until it turns dull.  Expect a lot of smoke... use the vent or better, do it outside on the grill.
  3. Repeat
  4. Repeat
  5. Repeat and keep repeating until the metal stays shiny. It took me about 8 repetitions.
This method creates a sheen on the wok.  The wok becomes remarkably easy to clean... just wipe it down.  Nothing sticks.  Thank you Cooks Illustrated.  It's well worth the cost of an issue to know these things.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bermuda Grass Update

In April I spent a few hours pulling, digging and grubbing out all the little pieces of Bermuda grass I could find in a few patches of my garden.  This included rebuilding some of my lambs ear beds.   So far the results aren't bad.  I keep after the new growth as it emerges.  The real story will be told in August when the ground gets hard and no amount of water will keep plants alive in this bay clay soil.

Garden Update June 7, 2011: The Triumph of Roses

Last year June 7th brought my first handful of green beans and I thought last year was cold... this year the weather was cold and rainy until yesterday and nothing is happy about it.  The basil is shivering, the tomatoes are slacking off.  The poor Italian lemon is bereft in a poor canopy of scraggly yellow leaves.  On the plus side, the lettuce is still growing and the strawberries pay this kind of weather no-never-mind. Also doing well are mint, chocolate mint and red chard.  And roses... the roses always seem to triumph don't they?